GOLDEN - Some teachers say it's the future of the classroom - every aspect of a student's academic life at instantly accessible. Some parents say it's an invasion of privacy and an online fruit ripe for hackers to pick.
"The new pilot would place data at teachers' fingertips, giving teachers and parents a more robust picture," Leslie Dahlkemper, president of the Jefferson County School Board, said.
She's talking about a program called Classroom Dashboard that would store data in a cloud system run by a national non-profit program called inBloom. The Classroom Dashboard would allow teachers to see instantly various factors associated to each student.
"Teachers can identify at a glance precisely which students are having trouble and with which skills," Dahlkemper said. "Parents have access to data, too, and there are no surprises."
But, Rachael Stickland says there could be a different kind of surprise no one wants. She worries that ease of access for teachers means ease of access for hackers, too.
"Despite lofty promises, where's the research proving that diverting money from classrooms and investing in technology will deliver," Stickland said. "To my knowledge, it doesn't exist."
Stickland says inBloom's program will also profile and track children, inappropriately.
"[The program] inBloom is providing a unique service, one that has never been created before," Stickland said. "Therefore, it is untested. Therefore, it is an experiment on our children."
David Millard is a 5th grade teacher who piloted the Classroom Dashboard program in his school last year.
"Our handling of data and how we use it is not what it could be. It's not what it should be. It's not what it has to be," Millard said. "After using the dashboard that was my perception - we are in a critical need of a system that ties together the data we have."
Sharon Bates is the chief product manager at inBloom. She says the data is encrypted and totally secure. Bates also wants parents to know inBloom will not share student data with anyone else.
"People don't look at data at inBloom," Bates said. "We're really there working as the transportation on the back end. We're not a testing product."
School Board Member Laura Boggs doubts inBloom can keep any data safe. She says she obtained student information on Dahlkemper's own daughter through a different program called Schoology.
"I can't imagine if we weren't in control of that," Boggs said. "If there were discipline data with that, if there were health data with that, this is bad enough."
Jeffco Schools will continue to pilot the program in certain schools this year before making a final decision in January on whether to implement the Classroom Dashboard program district wide starting in 2015.
Stickland says several other states have already pulled out of inBloom's program because of privacy concerns.
"School is an environment that our children should run to, not run from," Stickland said.
Dahlkemper says this could be a revolutionary tool that will help accelerate learning in the classroom.
"Teaching to the middle or a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't cut it anymore," Dahlkemper said.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)