Where’s MyData Button for students? Back in 2012, the White House, the Secretary of Education, and several major companies promised to give students a single button to click to download ALL of their education data. Their data would be in a common digital format to use themselves in so many ways. The students would be enlightened, informed, and empowered. Wow! Now in 2016, no buttons can be found.
I asked the U.S. Department of Education (USED) where MyData Button is—no button. I asked each of those companies—no buttons. Apparently no one else is asking why. Apparently if anyone did, no one would give an answer.
Education’s MyData Button was part of a bigger initiative by the Obama administration to promote open access by government. Remember when transparency was a big deal and the Obama administration was going to be the most transparent one ever? Giving data back to the consumer (termed “smart disclosure”) was a core component of its Open Government Directive. I’ve now sent two questions to the White House through their website—one to staff, one to the President. No response.
“Open access” of government data as a concept by the Obama administration is naïve for the education industry. “Smart disclosure” assumes that the students can have personal access to their data on demand—at the push of a button. The local school district isn’t a branch of Wells Fargo Bank. In the education IT community, students don’t have a few, directly connected accounts for which statements with a daily activity record for each can be printed as .PDFs. Students have demographic, enrollment, attendance, family, meals, transportation, extra-curricular, behavior diagnostic, formative assessment, art, physical fitness, remedial program, gifted program, counseling, graduation plan, grades, transcript, daily lessons, discipline, and multiple EdTech app records distributed across multitudinous databases.
Did the White House think a student might go to each of these websites separately to gather data, then be able to concatenate them into a manageable record because standard definitions and formatting had been used by each of them?
With whom did they consult before issuing their press release? Did the companies who signed up not talk to their education agency clients first?
MyData Button is the quintessential representation of hopeful Occam’s Razor optimism. Translated, that means the White House must have hoped that the simplest solution—a button to click—would meet the requirements of a problem that anyone with rudimentary experience and understanding of the education information ecosystem would have easily seen as confounding.

Click here to read the full white paper, MyData Button: Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button? Nobody! Click one button and get all your education data! Too good to be true? Yes.