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Utah lawmakers approve creating online 'backpacks' of student data

Published March 13, 2013 12:20 pm

Education • All of a student's achievement data, across all their years of school, would be available in one place.
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Parents are likely to soon be able to find all of their kids' student achievement data online, in one place, now that the full Legislature has passed SB82.

The bill earned final passage after the House narrowly approved it Wednesday, by a vote of 38-35, after some lawmakers criticized it as an unnecessary expense. At a cost of $250,000, the bill would create a cloud-based student achievement "backpack," allowing teachers and parents to access all of a student's information across all their years of school in one place.

House bill sponsor Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, said it would make accessing such data easier when kids transfer schools and help parents.

"This information will be more readily available through cloud technology than it is today," Hughes said.

Others, however, raised a number of issues. Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, wondered about the security of so much data online, prompting Hughes to respond that measures would be taken to ensure it was kept private. Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, said as a teacher he already had access to all that information and wondered about the purpose of creating a new portal.

"I would have loved to have this $250,000 to put in other items," Briscoe said.

Hughes, however, said $250,000 is a relatively small amount compared with how much money the state already spends collecting such achievement data. He said it would be worth the price to put all that information in one place.

The bill now moves to the governor for his signature.