“Data Walls” in Holyoke Public Schools create controversy

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Parents and teachers in Holyoke are protesting mandatory “data walls” in public schools.

“Data Walls” are publicly displayed test scores, results or reading levels.

Holyoke parents went to Monday night’s school committee meeting at Dean Technical High School to protest the displays.

Parents say the posters display first and last names, along with tasks that a child has mastered or failed to master in certain academic areas.  Some of the posters have code names or symbols, but parents say they are still easily decipherable.

Paula Burke, a mother of a Holyoke third grader, told 22News, “Parents are largely unaware that their children’s names and personal academic information are being shared with the public without their consent. Data should be used to drive instruction, not to publicly humiliate children.”

Burke said that having teachers post student achievements, or lack of achievement, on the wall violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which prohibits the discussion of a student’s private information.

22News found the following in regards to disclosure of a student’s work in the Holyoke Public School’s student handbook:

“During the course of the school year, personally-identifiable student work may be seen and reviewed
by third parties. For example, personally-identifiable student work may be displayed on bulletin
boards, at fairs/shows, during Open House, and during parent-teacher conferences and will thus be
seen by many people. In addition, classroom instructional techniques may include cooperative
learning, peer review, editing, and commenting on another student’s work. All of this activity is part
of the regular educational process and serves to benefit the student. The work produced as a result
of these instructional techniques is also considered to be part of the student record.
If the parent/guardian or eligible student does not consent to the disclosure of this type of student
work, they must provide the building principal with a written statement indicating that they do not
consent to the disclosure of the student’s work, no later than one week of receipt of this handbook.”

You can find the Holyoke Public School’s policy on the disclosure of student’s work in the Student Handbook here.

22News also tried to contact the Superintendent of Holyoke Public Schools, but he was not immediately available for comment.

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