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Parents Are Rightfully Concerned about the Board's Desire to collect and use "Big Data"

April 7, 2020 – Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., shared a presentation to the Board about the path forward for #1LISD students.


Gearing explained he believes the path for knowing and understanding each of our students involves gathering and disseminating [big] data – then using AI and the power of machine learning to help educators make better human decisions. He said the best platform he’s found for this approach is called “AYO”.


Gearing and eight other administrators recently attended the AYO Conference hosted by Mesquite ISD. "AYO uses technology instead of test scores to better understand a student’s capacities, strengths and weaknesses and to identify unique qualities and passions," according to MISD's website.

AYO gathers various kinds of data about every student such as – Health data, Discipline data, Attendance data, Strengths, Weaknesses, Mental capacities, Writing samples, Date of birth, Sibling info, Food allergies, Hobbies outside of school, Extracurriculars, Likes/Dislikes, Race, Ethnicity, Socioeconomic status, Nurse visits, Gallup strengths, Learning styles, Grades, Test scores, Personal and academic goals, etc. – and puts it all in a student profile that would follow the child from K thru 12. He [Dr. Gearing] said this profile would be accessible “to everyone who needs to know” while being mindful of privacy concerns.


The tool will also have a social-emotional check in through the app, Gearing said. “Kids can check in as often as every period of the day to let the system know how they’re feeling, how they’re doing. That data then gets generated over time. The system will start to pick up on patterns,” such as whether a child always feels bad at a particular time of the day. “The machine’s job is not to decide why that child is feeling bad, but simply to nudge the humans involved to ask the questions.”


“So if the child is feeling particularly bad every single morning, it might beg the question, is the child eating breakfast before they come to school? And if they’re not, can we do something about that? … It can help to nudge us to ask better questions, and to intervene in a more timely manner.”


Dr. Gearing emphasized that nothing has been decided and the platform is still being evaluated.


For more information, check out the Superintendent’s message starting at 2:40:08 on the 4/7/20 Board meeting video (8:50 PM), AYO’s promotional video, the My AYO FAQ and a Dallas Morning News article on the implementation in Mesquite ISD. Stay tuned for future Board discussions and opportunities to raise concerns through community feedback.


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