Saying No To Naviance: Active Non-Cooperation Is The Best Form of Resistance

Reposted with permission from Wrench in the Gears.

free library

Of course the point of Naviance is to preemptively erase people like me. It won’t do for scrappy, critically thinking, non-cooperators to remain on the board when gameplay begins. The “college and career readiness” enforcers expect everyone to passively accept their assigned slot; to be grateful to even have a slot; so grateful they won’t risk imagining another future or challenging the status quo to create an alternate reality. Which is exactly why our family refused to allow our high-school daughter to create a Naviance account two years ago. Parents in other states are doing the same.

John Trudell espoused a policy of non-cooperation. To his way of thinking, when confronted by oppression, it is our responsibility look for ways to gum up the system. This week my wrench-throwing target was Naviance, a subsidiary of Hobsons, a company that promotes itself as a college and career readiness solution.

The Philadelphia School District entered into a five-year, $1.5 million contract with Naviance in 2015. The William Penn Foundation and the Philadelphia School Partnership, both proponents of school privatization, pitched in with $750,000 to cover half the cost. An article from Inside Philanthropy stated the software is “essentially, a high school guidance counselor in a website form.”

It is a program that seeks to replace human interaction with digital ones, which is bad enough, but the company also builds its bottom line collecting data mined from students’ tender, just-forming identities starting as early as middle school. The software deploys intrusive surveys and “strengths assessments” to develop robust profiles used to track kids into career pathways.

I would have fared poorly in such a system. I was a humanities-loving art history student, who took up a graduate degree in historic preservation with a focus on cultural landscapes. Over time, and with the guidance of friends who helped me open my eyes and look hard at the world, I developed an analysis that led me to become a radical researcher intent on exposing purveyors of predatory digital disruption.

Of course the point of Naviance is to preemptively erase people like me. It won’t do for scrappy, critically thinking, non-cooperators to remain on the board when gameplay begins. The “college and career readiness” enforcers expect everyone to passively accept their assigned slot; to be grateful to even have a slot; so grateful they won’t risk imagining another future or challenging the status quo to create an alternate reality. Which is exactly why our family refused to allow our high-school daughter to create a Naviance account two years ago. Parents in other states are doing the same.

But now, as a senior, she had to figure out how to get transcripts to apply to college. In a growing number of school districts Naviance holds families hostage. If they refuse to set up an account and complete all the surveys their children cannot graduate, request letters of recommendation, or have transcripts sent. Naviance, a private company whose profits are manufactured from the student data they collect, is becoming a gatekeeper to college admission. Plus, our district paid them $750,000 (plus the $750,000) for the privilege! Below is a comment on a recent blog post to that effect.

After several email exchanges with school district officials and a productive meeting with our daughter’s lovely human (not web-form) guidance counselor, we came up with a plan to do the application process sans-Naviance. We’d do it the old-fashioned way with embossed seals, paper copies, signatures across envelopes and snail-mail postage. Sure, she’ll have to pull her submissions together a bit sooner to give us a buffer in case something gets lost along the way, but in exchange we’ll enjoy the peace of mind knowing her “strengths” remain beyond the reach of Hobson’s predictive analytics.

Below are two emails I sent to the Chief Information Officer of our district with Superintendent Hite copied, as well as the Head of Student Support Services. It explains our thinking and affirms the stance we took was not just for ourselves, but to keep the door open for others who desire to pursue the same course.

If you can opt out of Naviance at Masterman, you should be able to opt out of Naviance anywhere in the School District of Philadelphia and be supported in your decision to do so. Support your school’s guidance counselor. Opt out and demand funds used to pay these data-mining companies instead be used to reduce counselors’ caseloads and free them up to spend more quality time with their students.

Our concerns about Naviance:

Email dated September 20, 2018

Dear XXXX,

I think you were looped in later, so I wanted to make it clear to all involved that our desire to opt out of the Naviance platform is grounded in concern over:

1) use of student data to create profit streams for private companies

2) use of data to generate profiles of students that may in fact cause them harm, especially given its use of surveys and strengths assessments

3) outsourcing student services to private companies when public funds would be better spent expanding access to HUMAN counselors in our schools

4) Naviance, a private company, becoming a de facto gatekeeper for access to post-secondary opportunities

See the excerpt from a market report for Hobson from 2013.

“Hobson is also developing a third business line – data and analytics – which focuses on this data, much of it proprietary, that flows through its solutions at both K-12 and HE (higher education). The recent acquisition of National Transcript Center (NTC) from Pearson enables Hobson to capture data along the student lifecycle by facilitating e-transcript exchanges…The company’s acquisition of Beat the GMAT in October 2012, together with its College Confidential business, also supports Hobson’s strategy in creating communities with strong underlying data, which has a value to HE institutions and CAN BE MONETIZED.”

Most people don’t take the time to dig into the corporate underpinnings of the online platforms their children are supposed to use, but in this case it does merit serious consideration. Naviance is owned by Hobson, a division of the Daily Mail and General Trust in the UK. Lord Rothermere, former owner of the Daily Mail, consistently gave positive press to Hitler throughout the 1930s link.

Hobson is also based in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is quite interesting in that that is also the corporate headquarters of Knowledgeworks, one of the primary advocates for a shift to a learning ecosystem model. This model seeks to replace schools with drop-in centers, badged credentials, and a combination of digital and out of school time learning opportunities. I have seen the data fields for Naviance, and it appears this platform is aligned to such a model. As a person who values the importance of neighborhood schools as physical places, this worries me greatly.

Among the primary responsibilities of public school districts is the management of student records and support of students in accessing those records. I feel strongly this is a responsibility that should not be delegated to a for-profit, third party company that has a stated interest in expanding their market share through data-mining children. While some families may find this “service” a convenience, we do not.

Our daughter has two institutions to which she intends to apply early action. Those deadlines are the first of November. She is in the process of finalizing her materials now, but we need to know how we can transmit official copies of her transcript and her letters of recommendation to the institutions to which she is applying outside of Naviance. We need to have this information by the end of September.

I very much appreciate the School District leadership’s assistance in helping us with this matter.


Alison McDowell

Post-Meeting Follow Up Email

September 20, 2018

Hello everyone,

I just wanted to share an update. XXX and I had a very productive meeting with XXX this morning. There is indeed an embossing stamp of approval for printed transcripts and provisions to obtain paper copies of letters of recommendation in sealed envelopes. I very much appreciate the school’s flexibility in accommodating our desire to pursue the college application process outside this platform, and we have a plan over the next month to pull everything together for her early action forms.

That said I want to re-emphasize that the School District of Philadelphia would do well to revisit its contractual agreements with Naviance, given the fact that their business model is fueled by student data. The amount of data being poured into this company, including sensitive behavioral data, is extremely troubling given its historic origins. It is imperative that adults do all they can to protect the children in their care from being harmed or used as a profit center. Many families do not have access to the background information I do and may not be aware that they have the option to apply to colleges outside of this third-party platform. I hope the district would extend the same level of support to other families that choose to opt out of Naviance.

As a parent and taxpayer I would prefer to see public funds used to reduce caseloads for school counselors so they have more time to spend with students. XXX has been great to work with over the years.

Once again XXX, thanks for your time today and your knowledgeable input.  We look forward to coordinating with you as we plan XXX’s next steps.


Alison McDowell


No Thank You to Naviance

Reposted with permission from Feral Families.

feral families

The district has designed a scope and sequence of how to use Naviance with a focus on 11th and 12th grade but actual implementation will be left school to school. Once parents have forfeited their chance to opt out there will not be any other chances to give consent for certain portions. They told me it is an all in system with individual schools being left to make decisions about how they will accommodate students who opt out….

Through my daughter’s eighth grade year, I started to familiarize myself with how high school is organized nowadays in SPS. It’s been a long time since my Ingraham days of “tennis shoe registration” where we ran station to station with little index cards and golf pencils signing up for our courses manually. So with a few weeks until school let out when I received this email from Seattle Public Schools, my interest was peaked,

Dear families,

We are pleased to announce the district’s college and career planning tool, Naviance, will be available in the 2018-19 school year to support your student’s personalized journey through high school. This is a web-based, mobile-friendly tool that you and your student can use to explore interests and options, consider post-high school plans, and ensures all students can have access to post-high school planning supports.

The Naviance college and career planning tool will allow students to:

• Research careers and colleges: Learn about career fields linked to personal interests, compare data from college admissions offices, take personalized surveys to understand strengths and goals.

• Get involved in the planning process:Build a resume, manage timelines and deadlines for making decisions about colleges and careers; organize and track documents related to the college application process, such as requesting and submitting letters of recommendation and transcripts.

• High School and Beyond Plan: Schools will be using Naviance to deliver high school and beyond plan lessons in grades 8-12.  The high school and beyond plan is a graduation requirement, which helps students and counselors make sure graduation requirements are met and are aligned to identified goals.

• Scholarship search: Students can search a database of scholarships based on their interest and goals, and organize materials for scholarship applications in one place.

Student Data and Opt-out Information

The district thoroughly vetted Naviance’s policies and practices with respect to preserving data security and student privacy. Families can choose to opt their students out of using this tool.

For students to utilize the college application support tools in Naviance, some student demographic and academic records need to be shared.  This may include gender, ethnicity, and transcripts. Students will also have the opportunity to add information about themselves when developing their high school and beyond plan and using other college and career exploratory resources within the Naviance tool.

We will be importing student information beginning on July 1 so counselors can use their training days during the summer to prepare for supporting your student in the fall. The window to opt out will be June 4-22, and will open again at the start of school.

Read more about Naviance’s commitment to data security and student privacy and opt out instructions

Each of our students is on a unique educational journey. We are committed to ensuring every one of them receives the support needed to prepare them for college, career and life. High school and beyond planning is one way we are supporting this commitment.

Thank you,

The College and Career Readiness Team

Seattle Public Schools

To which I responded,

Dear Superintendent and Directors,

I received a letter about Naviance informing me that I could opt out but not how to opt out. I found the information on the district website and it says I have to change the preferences on my Source account but I do not participate in the Source. I consulted our upcoming high school principal and guidance counselor and neither of them know how to opt out without a Source account. I also tried replying to the College & Career team but the email was sent with “no reply” options or contact info.

Please advise. The opt out window ends on 6/22.

Thank you,

Shawna Murphy

I was surprised by a quick reply from the College & Career Readiness team offering to teach me how to set up a Source account. I said no thank you and let them know that for a variety of choice and access issues they need to offer families another way to opt out. Their department sent me a computerized form a day or two later which I remember finding funny because if you don’t have computer access to use The Source, how would you fill out a computer form? By this time I had talked to several friends who wanted to opt their children out of Naviance too, but the form stopped working. I contacted the College & Career Readiness team again and it turned out THEY HAD MADE THE FORM ONLY FOR MY USE! Now I do appreciate that I am a privileged outlier but I reminded them they need a simple way for ALL families to opt out; not just the well known agitators. They thanked me for the feedback and said that they would work on that for the next opt out window of 9/5-9/19. They asked me to check back at the beginning of the school year.

On the first day of my daughter’s high school experience I emailed the SPS Director of College & Career Readiness, Caleb Perkins to loop back about what kind of outreach they were doing for families about Naviance and how one might elect to have their child opt out of this new system. Many parents of middle school and high school students I had spoken with were wary of this new system over data sharing, privacy and tracking concerns. Mr. Perkins responded to my email requesting a phone meeting we scheduled one for the following day.

I knew what questions I wanted to ask and they mostly centered on how parents will learn about this system so they can make an informed choice whether they would like to participate. My friend and educational blogger, Carolyn Leith is much more knowledgeable about some of intricate details of the system and she sent me a list of questions to use for my meeting, they are as follows,

1. How is Naviance going to be used? What classes will be using the software and what surveys will students be expected to participate in. Will the district inform parents of what surveys their students will be expected to complete.

2. Some surveys used by Naviance were intended to be filled out by students under the supervision of a parent. Will parents have access to student accounts?

3. How will students who opt out of Naviance be accommodated? How will this work if Naviance is part of a planned curriculum? For families who object to their student’s participation with Naviance, will a counselor be made available to help students navigate the last two years of high school.

4. How will opting out be handled with courses such as career essentials?

5. Does answering/ using different surveys change the data sharing agreement signed between the district and Naviance? What data is being shared (or made available for access via API’s ) and with whom?

6. What platforms ( such as Google Suite, Clever ) have access to Naviance? Does Naviance also have access to the data collected in Google Suite, Clever, and other platforms?

7. Is Naviance interoperable with other platforms and software used by Seattle Public Schools? Will parents be informed of what data is being shared and with what programs?

8. Is Seattle Public Schools willing to put in writing that it holds student personality tests and other sensitive data collected by Naviance and does not share it and will be liable for any breaches or misuse?

9. Is Seattle Public Schools willing to make transparent what algorithms and weighted factors are used to put students on specific career tracts? Is Naviance willing to share this information?

I started the conversation casually, moved on to the questions, without recording their answers and then moved into a friendly discussion of the larger issues at stake. Mr. Perkins has committed to sending me written answers to these questions, but since the opt out window only runs until 9/19, I decided to write a blog post about our conversation now while it’s still fresh. Incidentally the College & Career Readiness team has set up five regional Naviance Information Sessions but to date they have been poorly publicized and offered only from 5:30-6:30, which is a tricky for many families.

A few things I learned at the beginning of my meeting on speaker phone with Caleb Perkins and Krista Rillo were that SPS paid a little over $600,000 total to Hobson for the use of Naviance for three years. The district paid for Naviance using a voter approved technology levy. The district believes their legal team has thoroughly vetted the contract and has stiff penalties in place for any future theoretical data breach.

The district has designed a scope and sequence of how to use Naviance with a focus on 11th and 12th grade but actual implementation will be left school to school. Once parents have forfeited their chance to opt out there will not be any other chances to give consent for certain portions. They told me it is an all in system with individual schools being left to make decisions about how they will accommodate students who opt out. In addition to The Source, families can also opt out by informing their school office. I gave strong feedback that these were not enough options. Not all families feel comfortable working with their school office and not all school office staff are going to welcome opt outs. I gave the example of how differently SBAC opt outs are handled school to school. At my daughters’ school, it was seen as no big deal with as many as 10% of our students opting out of standardized testing. But other schools are much more hostile to test refusers. At nearby Denny Middle School there was a school carnival that only students who had taken the SBAC could attend and other friends around the district reported having principals want to schedule parent conferences in response to their opt out emails. These parents were then strongly encouraged to have their students take the SBAC. I suggested publicizing a phone number that parents could call directly to opt out of Naviance.

Both Caleb and Krista talked about aspects of Naviance they are excited about. Students can apply directly to colleges, send transcripts and apply for scholarships. Mr. Perkins is especially excited about a set of videos featuring underrepresented groups in non traditional careers. I asked if parents would have access to this information. The answer was a little shocking. They said they were not building in parent access this year and that parents would potentially have “read only” account access next year. They also said that based on what types of searches and inquiries the student was making, they would receive more info in those areas. So if your student was surveyed to show interest in engineering, they would start receiving notices about STEM opportunities in the area. For me, this is a red flag for tracking, and between that, lack of parent access and the idea that my child may be sending my financial information to multiple parties through this system, I am alarmed.

The conversation then took a turn into the big picture and that’s when I really began to question what Seattle Public Schools has gotten themselves into trying to fulfill the legislature’s high school and beyond requirements. Mr. Perkins told me that there had been discussion by the School Board Directors, with some directors in opposition, to naming this new project “Seattle Ready” after the idea that in order to live in Seattle now one will need to have a high paying job. They argued that this idea is “economy driven” and I argued that the opposite is actually true. Not only is child care highly sought after in Seattle, as working class person, a child care provider making about $20, I took strong offense to this notion that students might be dissuaded from pursuing a meaningful career like mine, that gives me so much joy, and supports so many people, because it does not pay “Seattle Ready” wages. I pointed out to them that they were actually doing a disservice to their own workforce by promoting these classist and elitist ideas and I suggested they look to the example of our First Student bus drivers. A “Seattle Ready” system is never going to suggest that a student might enjoy a career as a bus driver and yet what vacancies have not been able to be filled this year and last? School bus drivers. The school bus driver shortage is wreaking havoc on our Seattle working families who’s school buses are frequently late and sometimes don’t show up at all.

Another example I gave, is the district’s own IA’s who often do not earn enough to afford housing in Seattle and have long commutes into the city. These are the same people that the district relies on to care for our most vulnerable students, a position I hold in high esteem and yet the district would deem this career not “Seattle Ready” viable.

I would rather that my student were taught the value of a day’s work and learn about social justice and organizing for better pay for all workers than be taught that some jobs are better than others. I don’t buy it. And what about my friends who ARE artists and musicians and writers but that is not the job they do for money. This early emphasis on what job we have and how it defines us is misguided at best and troubling for me as a parent of kids who dance to their own drum. My youngest has always said she will be an animal communicator and a fortune teller when she grows up and my oldest would like to write for sitcoms but is interested in retail while she starts working on her scripts. It seems highly unlikely these tracks are available in Naviance or any “economy driven” system but I want my children to be who they are, loving, kind and interesting people, who also will some day have jobs, and maybe many many different kinds of jobs; this is why I have chosen to opt out of Naviance.

-Shawna Murphy

Seattle’s Naviance Opt-Out Go Round

merry go round

Unfortunately, what looked to be a simple step to empower parents, when implemented, morphed into a bureaucratic and technical barrier.

Much to the credit of Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors, an opt-out provision was included in the contract signed with Hobson to bring Naviance, a career and college online planning tool, into the district.

Unfortunately, what looked to be a simple step to empower parents, when implemented, morphed into a bureaucratic and technical barrier.


First, parents were required to have an account with The Source, an online dashboard which gives parents access to their student’s grades and assignments.

Yes, I know the district wants every parent to have an account with The Source.

I also know the district has been ratcheting up the pressure to get holdouts to comply with the district’s vision.

But is using opt out as leverage to get parents to comply with the district’s wishes the message our board and superintendent want to send to parents?

The Second Barrier: No Option to Opt Out

If you happened to have a Source account, the second barrier you would encounter while trying to opt out of Naviance would be the option to opt out didn’t exist.


According to the district, the option to opt out of Naviance would be available under the “preferences” section of The Source — except it wasn’t.

After I spent two days trying to opt out via The Source and then writing a letter to the school board sharing my experience, this mysterious “technical glitch” was finally solved.


If you have to write the school board to exercise a basic parental right something is very wrong.

Why am I writing about this now?

The second window for parents to opt their students out from Naviance is September 4-12, 2018. This option is available for students in grades 8-12.

This time I expect no mysterious technical errors. Seriously, I find it baffling that in one of the tech hubs of the United States, no one thought to test to see if the opt-out option was functional before going live for the first opt-out window.

More Helpful Hints for Administrators Who Want to Do the Right Thing.

If the district is serious about empowering parents I would also expect other, less tech specific and rigid routes for parents to exercise their rights.

In a community centered district, the option to meet with a counselor instead of leaving this work up to a software program would also be a option.

Why would a parent want to opt their kids out? Please read Naviance Not so Transparent & Cooking Up Data Starting in Kindergarten?  and then make up your own mind.

Was the Bungled Naviance Opt-Out a Nudge?

My summer reading list included two books: Inside the Nudge Unit by David Halpern and Why Nudge? The Politics of Libertarian Paternalism by Cass Sunstein.

Both books describe how behavioral economics was incorporated into policy making decisions in the U.K. under the Blair and Brown Administrations and in the United States during the Obama Administration.

Nudges are used by choice architects to encourage people to make some choices while avoiding others. For instance, choosing healthy food, getting your steps in, or insulating your attic.

One of the key elements of the nudge is making the preferred behavior easy. According to Inside the Nudge Unit (page 65), Richard Thaler, Chicago Economist, Nobel Prize Winner, and Choice Architect is credited as saying, “If you want to encourage something, make it easy.”

Choice architects use the concept of easy by eliminating friction or hassle in choosing the preferred behavior. This can be done by setting the default to the preferred choice (opt-in instead of opting-out) and elimination unnecessary steps.

Was opting out of Naviance easy?


Could it have been?


In my opinion, the requirement for a Source account, then finding an obscure choice box – buried at the bottom of the page – when it was available at all – sure felt like a nudge.

Here Comes the Hard Sell

Another disturbing development is once parents started expressing interest in opting out, the district suddenly decided to have community meetings during the second opt out window to help parents make an “informed choice” about opting out of Naviance.

Here’s my question: Why weren’t these meeting held for parents BEFORE the district purchased Naviance?

In a district that has trouble covering the basics and even paying its teachers and support staff enough to live in the city they work in, why would the district be so gosh darn over enthusiastic about investing $600,000 in something parents may not even want?

It makes me wonder.

-Carolyn Leith












Naviance Not So Transparent & Cooking Up Data Starting in Kindergarten?

Reposted with permission from Missouri Education Watchdog.

Data Cook Book

What to do when a vendor wants to know EVERYTHING about your child but won’t tell you what they are doing with the data?


We have found it difficult, if not impossible, to see who Naviance shares the data with.  Interestingly, we have noticed that Naviance and Hobsons have NOT signed the SIIA pledgeWhy won’t Naviance sign this pledge that promises to not sell student data? [Interesting update, since this posting Hobsons has signed onto the self-policing software industry SIIA pledge.] We did a little digging and found that Hobsons (who owns Naviance) recently bought the Predictive Analytics reporting Framework (PAR)  and they describe themselves here:   We are a non-profit multi-institutional data mining collaborative.

PAR, now part of Hobsons, also affiliated with the Data Cookbook.  Speaking of data mining, this is all tied into IMS Global, whom we wrote about here.

IMS Global

Alrighty then, nice of these folks to admit that they are data miners.  But they collect children’s data, so what exactly are they mining and sharing?

Naviance Personality Test

You will remember we wrote about Naviance who gathers personal information about school children, including personality surveys, hobbies, likes and dislikes,  employment history, and family information and financial, income information via grant applications, scholarship applications, college applications.  We also explained that during the Naviance process, there are many third party vendors who access the data.  In fact, students were asked to waive their FERPA rights while using the Common App through Naviance.  You can read about it here.

We asked Naviance if we could see a list of their third party vendor contracts, what data they get, how they share it. Here is what Naviance said,

“We are legally bound by confidentiality agreements with our third party providers and may not release these contracts.”   – Hobsons  VP of Policy and Advocacy  (see full letter here

* 2017 Update*  Thanks to a new Colorado law, vendors who collect pii student data must provide names of subcontractors and a copy of the data sharing contract.  Hobsons Naviance still has NOT provided contracts, or cited data elements that are shared, but has provided a list of subcontractors.  Please see their March 2017 letter and subcontractor list here.

Hmmm.  So much for transparency and advocacy.  As for asking the school district, they didn’t know either, and actually gave us the contact information to ask Naviance ourselves (who pointed us back to the school district.) Rinse, Repeat.


Naviance seems to be capitalizing on the push to combine school and workforce readiness. In most states, Naviance is started in high school, or even middle school.    But…why leave those elementary kids un-tracked?

Naviance, (Hobsons), has just rolled out their workforce young children program.  See Hobsons’ press release and why they think it is important to start thinking about a career plan in Kindergarten and how schools should “integrate college and career exploration into elementary classrooms. ”

You can see how 10 year old Colorado students are used in this commercial for Naviance in Elementary schools.

What’s next Naviance?  “Workforce for babies”?  Maybe “Workforce in the Womb”?

While we hope that every child can learn ABOUT college and career options —we wonder how much Hobsons, Naviance is learning ABOUT our children.  As Hobsons states, they gather information on students’ “strengths and interests, and learn how, what they’re doing in school…” …”particularly low-income and minority students.”


It must be pretty lucrative because Microsoft just announced that they are getting in on this school-career data gathering business.

Meet Microsoft’s CirkledIn who promises to Capture-Connect-Collaborate-Compile and track kids’ and students’ school life achievements. [and] Share their holistic profile. Starting in pre-school.

No thanks.

We know our kids, we don’t need your  full-time, non-transparent,  data tracking.


-Cheri Kiesecker

Childhood Lost: Schooling a Workforce.

Reposted with permission from Missouri Education Watchdog.

Childhood Workforce Ready

While having an online platform to manage all your information sounds convenient, consider what information is being uploaded and who has access to this sensitive data.  Remember, under the weakened privacy law FERPA, personal data can be shared.  Also remember, the Federal Learning Registry partners with vendors who share student data they have gathered.

When did we shift our focus to the new 3Rs ?

With recess becoming a thing of the past in many states, a federal push for year round school and extended school days,  workforce readiness data badges starting in preschool, and children having to choose college or career paths before many even go to their first boy-girl dance, what are we doing to our children?  Can we even call them Our Children?  They have become the workforce product that business insiders see as human capital for a global economy.

Where has childhood gone?

College & Career Readiness Center

(Click this link for an interactive webpage to see YOUR STATE workforce initiatives such as ICAP, aligning standards, social-emotional behavioral metrics, Career Pathways, and Engagement metrics.)

If your state seems to be RUSHING to welcome school children into the workforce- you may be one of the *lucky*  CCSSO states who joined a CCSSO workforce pathways alliance.  The 17 CCSSO Workforce states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming. CCSSO launched its Career Readiness Task Force in the Spring of 2014 to increase the rigor in career education to meet expectations of the current labor market.

Workforce Readiness in grade school

While of course every parent wants their child to have a successful future and begin thinking about, exploring options before graduating high school, the push for children to begin a workforce or college pathway has never been greater.  This pressure for a child to decide his or her workforce future has literally transformed education. Nearly every state is in lock step, passing legislation, creating and aligning workforce-education pathways.  Why is that? Well, it has A LOT to do with data and it is part of a well-planned, multi-year progression. Remember Marc Tucker? Marc was the mastermind of the “wholly restructured school system”.  Creating national standards for academics and standards for workforce (and national assessments for both), turning schools into workforce apprenticeship training programs,  and combining community college and high school, were all part of Marc’s plan.


What is an Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP) and how does it fit with workforce pathways?

ICAP, or similarly named in other states, is a plan to guide students in grades 9-12, (or younger), as they explore the postsecondary career and educational opportunities available to them, aligning course work and curriculum, applying to postsecondary education institutions, securing financial aid, and ultimately entering the workforce.  ICAP includes career planning, guidance and tracking component and portfolio that reflects required classes and tracks the student’s progress toward securing scholarships, work-study, student loans and grants.  A student and parent, with the help of a counselor, chooses credits and courses to align with his/her chosen career or college path. This sounds innocuous, except, HOW does a child choose a career path at such an early age?  What if the child changes his mind a few years down the road? (Honestly, did YOU know what you wanted to be when you grew up? How many times did you / are you still changing your mind?)


Many schools ask  students to enter their ICAP data into a database, contracted through an outside vendor. For example, districts in Colorado use Naviance  (owned by Hobsons) to manage their students’ ICAP data and etranscripts, via Parchment.   (We will focus on this vendor, Naviance, but if your state uses another, feel free to let us know and we can include their information.)

It seems there is actually a strong push for buy-in, to get student and parents and schools to use this Naviance program.

While having an online platform to manage all your information sounds convenient, consider what information is being uploaded and who has access to this sensitive data.  Remember, under the weakened privacy law FERPA, personal data can be shared.  Also remember, the Federal Learning Registry partners with vendors who share student data they have gathered.

Naviance and College & Career Readiness

Naviance and ICAP data

Naviance offers many tools, handled by “third party experts“, including personality surveys.

One of the Naviance tools is the Career Interest Profiler, which matches students to careers based on a questionnaire that determines their strongest interests. Some parents have expressed concern that their child’s career profile doesn’t match what their child likes or really wants to do when they graduate.   “As the assessments are completed, career pathways will be suggested that match the students’ personality types and interests.”  (To read about the accuracy of student career assessments, read here and here and here.)  Naviance’s Roadtrip Nation emphasizes 21st Century soft-skillsdata badges, and also offers the “What’s Your Road?” self-guided experience in which students answer self-assessment questions about their interests and personal attributes. The results match them with leaders in the Roadtrip Nation Interview Archive who share students’ interests. Naviance’s Roadtrip Nation has also teamed up with the College Board.  Naviance’s other “third party experts” offer SuperMatch college searchscattergrams, and PrepMe which offers ACT/SAT test prep. Naviance also offers ACT test prep by allowing the students to practice tests online, through a program called WorkKeys.

naviance personality type assesment

Students complete online personality tests, and can also enter what they do outside of school (hobbies, community engagement, summer jobs, life events, ambitions, career or college goals, what type of college they like (city vs rural, big vs small, major, minor etc) , family income for grant applications, scholarships, college applications. Naviance can take all of the student’s information and build a resume, using work history, hobbies etc.


Naviance partners with the Common Application, for creating college applications. The Common App apparently encourages students to forego their FERPA rights, through a FERPA waiver.    Let that sink in.


Interestingly, in the seemingly endless linkage of student data and vendors, The Common App also partners with The Dell Foundation, via Scholar Snapp, to connect the student’s data to scholarship applications.


Just when you think you are done…


Naviance End of Year Survey


There has also been concern expressed over an unseen, mandatory ABOUT ME  online survey sent directly to students.  Strangely, at the end of  12th grade, every student must take this Naviance survey, entitled ABOUT ME, or they won’t be allowed to graduate.  If this seems to you like businesses and vendors are incredibly interested in learning about your child, you are not alone.  Roles have been reversed.

Rather than businesses showing children the opportunities, exposing all options, allowing children to experiment… with the intense focus on data collection, are we exposing children and allowing businesses to experiment on and research our children?


Click this Workforce Data Quality Campaign’s site to see a break down of President Obama’s  White House’s proposed 2017 budget as it relates to DATA.  The 2017 Federal budget more than doubles monies for SLDS and creates all kinds of new, vague data gathering projects.

SLDS federal funding

Aligning student data bases and workforce pathways is also in line with the US Department of Labor-Workforce Data Quality Initiative which plans to use personal information from each student, starting in pre-school, using the states’ SLDS data system. 

Workforce Data Quality

To fully comprehend the breadth of this National Workforce Plan, states should look through this Colorado Education and Workforce Alignment Pathways Blueprint. The blueprint sets the stage for badges while aligning all data systems to be interoperable, share personal identifiable information starting from preschool.

Colorado Workforce Development Group


Explained very simply here aligning workforce pathways will: “expand the use of the Longitudinal Database System, which tracks academic and employment history for students, to better support planning; the state also created a longitudinal data system to link and leverage data across the state’s multiple education and workforce programs.”


Education has become a talent pipeline for the global economy.  How this will affect your child’s future, what opportunities are lost based on data,  is largely unknown.  Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that employers today are cherry-picking job applicants after hiring data brokers to determine who will be a risk for sick days, pregnancy, insurance costs. What is your child’s lifelong supply of data going to say about him or her?  As this news story reports, student data is being swapped and shared.


Schools tracking and sharing data

“What you think is just between you and the teacher and the school, that’s no longer the case,”  “Be a little more wary of what you fill out, and really read through the documents that you’re signing at school.”

  • For a shareable, interactive link to the large organizations promoting alignment of education and workforce pathways and data badges, please click here.

-Cheri Kiesecker