Gates-funded student data group to shut down
- Article by: CAROLYN THOMPSON
- Associated Press
- April 21, 2014 - 5:20 PM
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The student data processing organization inBloom will shut down in the coming months, its chief executive officer said Monday following criticism that led to the recent loss of the startup's last active client — New York state.
"It wasn't an easy decision and the unavailability of this technology is a real missed opportunity for teachers and school districts seeking to improve student learning," a statement from CEO Iwan Streichenberger on the inBloom website said.
Launched in 2013 with $100 million in financing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Carnegie Corp., the nonprofit's goal was to give educators a data-based tool to personalize instruction. InBloom, based in Atlanta, offered to store and synthesize student data, such as grades, disciplinary actions and disability records in cloud-based servers.
Nine states initially signed on but backed out as parents, school administrators and lawmakers raised questions about privacy and security. Opponents feared the information could be subject to data-mining, sold or sought by colleges during competitive admissions processes.
Despite inBloom's assurances that the data would be safe, New York earlier this month became the latest state to sever ties and directed inBloom to delete any stored data. Illinois was allowing districts to use inBloom, but none had uploaded data, the company said.
"We stepped up to the occasion and supported our partners with passion," Streichenberger said, "but we have realized that this concept is still new, and building public acceptance for the solution will require more time and resources than anyone could have anticipated."
The Gates Foundation, in a statement, said: "Anything that limits the tools teachers and school districts can use to directly benefit their students is disappointing. Teachers should be able to easily support the individual learning needs of students. We believe the technology behind inBloom is an important part of making that a reality."
New York's largest teachers union said the closing "demonstrated the power that parents and teachers hold when they work together and fight for what's best for students." New York State United Teachers had pushed the state to cancel its contract with inBloom.
"Promoting equity of access for students to personalized learning, while ensuring the highest levels of security and privacy protection, has always been our goal in supporting inBloom," a Carnegie Corp. statement said.
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