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External Factors

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Submitted By dczubby
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There are literally hundreds of e-services currently being offered to the public on various state Board of Education websites. From the simplest calendar of events and directories to lost child notifications, what you can do with this type of media is endless. I currently have 3 children in 3 different schools (Elementary, Middle and High), the advantages of going on-line to check academic progress at a moment’s notice or find a missing assignment, far outweigh the risk associated with its effectiveness.
There are many factors that may impact the effectiveness of e-services offered by state Boards of Education. Security and individual privacy are on the forefront of concerns. How secure are these sites and who has access to the data listed? Federal law requires the masking or hiding of data for groups with 10 or fewer students to protect confidentiality of individual students. But with a limping economy and the many budgetary cuts taking place is the proper funding available to ensure these sites are secure? One of the biggest factors that may impact the effectiveness of e-services offered by state Boards of Education is the lack of money or financing to properly build and maintain these web sites. A lack of funding or sudden elimination of a funding source may affect the ability of state boards to provide adequate security. Additionally, the lack of funding may affect the ability of states boards to offer across the board e-services to all school districts, let alone the support required to maintain these sites. In Missouri the Missouri Comprehensive Data System (MCDS) provides student achievement results for the state, school districts and individual school buildings. This pilot program was funded by a grant received from the United States Department of Education to support developing its much larger Federal longitudinal data system. When the Federal grant dries up, who will be left with the maintenance of the system? I can see the educators /teachers being left with the burden that will be required. Forcing educators to be “dual-hatted” and be much more tech-savvy themselves to ensure security and confidentiality of the systems left in place. I believe that all the external factors that may impact the effectiveness of e-services offered by states Boards of Education will eventually be tied back to, “Is there adequate funding available to keep it going?”, and that is a scary thing. While funding is scarce and I am looking toward becoming an educator myself, I still feel that the benefits far outweigh the risks associated with any type of social or economic impact. These systems are amazing, everything from what did my child have for lunch, to what and when is the current assignment due. These systems are just too good to fail and we have to do what is necessary to ensure these systems are working and available to every student, parent and educator. If information is power, then this system provides power.

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