Student Data | News

inBloom to 'Wind Down'

Iwan Streichenberger, the CEO of inBloom, announced today that he will "wind down" the nonprofit data integration and content search service. inBloom launched in February 2013 with $100 million in funding (from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York) and the goal of making student data more useful to educators.

As Streichenberger put it in his statement, inBloom's mission was to "create a resource that allows teachers to get a more complete picture of student progress so they can individualize instruction while saving time, effort and precious resources."

The collection of student data created controversy, though. Last May, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten released a statement that said, in part, "Any potential inBloom has to improve and personalize learning is being overshadowed by a growing lack of public trust in its early communications and operations, and genuine concerns about the security, privacy, sharing and exploitation of data." Detractors also alleged that inBloom was created to facilitate adoption of the Common Core State Standards, that it planned to market to students and that its data was not secure — all claims that inBloom denied.

This January, Douglas A. Levin, the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association, commented, "The conversation [around inBloom] has gotten very polarized and divorced from facts. InBloom, in some respects, has become a lightning rod for these issues, but they didn't create the issues, and these issues aren't going to go away, even if inBloom goes away." 

Despite inBloom's stated policies that, "In accordance with federal, state and contractual law, as well as inBloom’s own policies, inBloom does not sell student information," and "Except as directed by its customer state or school district, inBloom does not share customer data with others," the nine states that had signed on to the service dropped out, with New York the last to cut ties with inBloom earlier this month. 

In his statement, Streichenberger said that "misunderstandings" led to the New York legislation, and that, "It is a shame that the progress of this important innovation has been stalled because of generalized public concerns about data misuse, even though inBloom has world-class security and privacy protections that have raised the bar for school districts and the industry as a whole." He added that, "The use of technology to tailor instruction for individual students is still an emerging concept."

Following Streichenberger's announcement, Aimee Rogstad Guidera, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Data Quality Campaign, released a statement commenting that, "The challenges surrounding inBloom, which partly stemmed from public unfamiliarity with cloud technology and confusion about the use and security of student data, illustrates the importance of helping the public, and especially parents, understand how increased access to data helps their children succeed."


About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.