On Data Collection

“Data” has become the mantra of educators for more than a generation. In my observations of these folks, there seems to be little regard for the quality of our data or the ethics whereby it is collected. Forty years ago, the OECD published eight principles of data collection that still provide good guidance… as long as we understand and apply them:

Collection Limitation: Data collection must be lawful and done with consent of the subjects.

Data Quality: The data must be relevant to the purpose, correct, and up-to-date.

Specified Purpose: When data is collected, consent is given for the purpose stated by the collector and understood by the subject.

Use Limitation: The data can only be used for the specified purpose.

Safety Safeguards: Steps must be taken to ensure the data are not released to unauthorized individuals or for other purposes.

Openness: Subjects should be able to get information about the collection, storage, and use of their data.

Individual Participation: The subject can challenge their personal data that is collected and stored.

Accountability: The individuals and organizations who control the data are responsible for ensuring these principles are followed.

Before wielding the term “data-driven” to describe you and your practice, ask yourself if you are truly aligning your use of data with these principles.