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Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

December 20, 2013 at 6:00 PM

OSPI says KUOW data agreement story inaccurate

The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) said Friday that a recent story aired by KUOW inaccurately asserted that a data agreement between OSPI and The Seattle Times authorized The Times to receive personally identifiable information about students.

The radio station has since clarified the report, which first aired Thursday, to underscore that The Times never requested and has not received any such information, including student names, and student and staff social security numbers.

In a statement posted Friday afternoon at the top of the story, KUOW acknowledged that the original version “left some of our readers mistakenly believing that their children’s names and Social Security numbers had been released to the Times.”

In its Friday statement, OSPI said:

 The recent KUOW story about student data being provided to The Seattle Times is inaccurate. OSPI takes student privacy laws very seriously. No identifiable information will be given to The Times.  All student records have been ‘de-identified,’ meaning that we will remove student names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. Furthermore, the data sharing agreement prevents Times’ staff from trying to identify individual students, as well as from reporting anything that would allow others to identify individual students.

The Times has requested data from OSPI that would help reporters and editors spot trends that might be newsworthy.  OSPI offered to provide a set of data that it commonly provides to researchers.

“The original KUOW story was misleading,” said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best. “There is nothing in the data agreement with OSPI that authorizes Times reporters to get confidential identifying information, such as students’ names, or student or staff Social Security numbers. Furthermore, the Times has never requested such data and has no interest in obtaining it.”

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