Why is the College Board selling student data? Urge your state legislator to get answers!

In Illinois, it's illegal to sell the data of children under 16 without their parents permission. It's also illegal for vendors to sell or rent data from students collected in school. But one of the biggest state test vendors, the College Board, is doing just that, and students and parents aren't even told it's happening.

Before appropriating another dollar to the College Board, the Illinois General Assembly should get answers from the College Board and the IL State Board of Education about how student data is being collected and exploited by the College Board.

Write your state senator and state representative to ask the General Assembly to hold a subject matter hearing on the College Board's business practices in Illinois.

Families, taxpayers and legislators need and deserve answers!

The College Board, the maker of the SAT, PSAT and AP tests, sells student data as part of their Student Search Service for $.47/student, including names, contact info, test score range and answers to survey questions, including self-reported grades, netting $100 million/year from its data sales business.

Illinois has state laws barring vendors from selling or renting data collected from students and barring any sale of data from children under 16 without consent of a parent. And the US Department of Education warned state and local education agencies about the data sales in 2018.

Students are told participating in the search service will help them find colleges and scholarship opportunities, and neither they nor their parents are told that the College Board is profiting from it.

The buyers of this data are not just colleges and universities, but also for-profit orgs of limited educational value.

And, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, colleges and universities are even purchasing large volumes of data on students that they know are unlikely to be accepted in order to inflate their applicant numbers, lower their admission rates and increase their selectivity ranking.

In October, IL Attorney General's office was looking into the College Board's business practices after nine legislators urged the AG to do so. Then, in December a class action lawsuit was filed against the College Board on behalf of a Chicago family in response to their data sales.

The College Board is recipient of millions of taxpayer dollars in Illinois each year from the state and from local districts. They are the collector and custodian of highly sensitive personal data, which can directly determine the educational and job opportunities available to Illinois children.

As such, they should be subject to the closest oversight, not just with respect to whether their business practices are meeting the letter—and the spirit—of the laws of our state, but in how their actions are affecting the life outcomes of Illinois children.

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