28 May, 2015
With the many advancements in identification technology that make vetting students’ identities easier, it would seem that the Social Security number wouldn’t need to be leaned on as much as it used to be.
That’s not the case in Florida’s Polk County School District, where schools have printed end-of-year tests with students’ Social Security numbers typed and bubbled in. It’s a decision that has sparked concerns amongst parents.
According to a report from The Ledger, both parents and school staff contacted the district with privacy and identity theft concerns. In an effort to rectify any issues, the School District has since asked teachers to manually black out the numbers.
A spokesperson for the school district says that school staff were able to successfully scan the bubble test sheets after blacking out the Social Security numbers.
Social Security numbers are still used by the state and its school districts as the primary student identification number. The Polk County School District says it was unaware that student Social Security numbers were being printed on the test booklets when testing began earlier this month for elementary students and secondary students.
In addition to manually blacking out the numbers, the district insists that other security measures were in place from the start. These measures include test training for teachers, the signing of a security agreement and procedures detailing how to securely store the tests. According to district officials, the tests are stored in a secure district testing warehouse for a period of time, in case a student appeals a score, after which the tests are shredded and recycled.
The Florida Department of Education is working to find a different way to identify students as stipulated by a 2014 legislative motion, but a new statewide identification system is yet to be agreed.