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The Indiana Network of Knowledge (INK) is a relatively new system so naturally there are a lot of questions surrounding it. Please take a few moments to review our frequently asked questions below to see if you can find the answers to your questions. You can also learn more about INK through our "Understanding INK" document or by reaching out to us via our Contact page.
Is INK a data collection system? [View]
No. INK itself does not collect data and is in no way designed to take over the data collection responsibilities of partner agencies. Instead, it links and houses data that are collected by various agencies, such as the Family and Social Services Administration, Indiana Department of Education, the Commission for Higher Education, and the Department of Workforce Development.
Is the intent of the INK project to take over data collections from various agencies? [View]
No. The intent of the INK project is NOT to take over data collections from any agency. Each agency that contributes data to INK is responsible for its own data collections. Those agencies are also responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the data that they collect, and creating reports to meet stakeholder needs. The INK project is designed to link various elements of the data collected by agencies in order to more accurately answer important stakeholder and policy questions about various pathways throughout the pre kindergarten-workforce spectrum.
What is the purpose of INK? [View]
The overarching goal of INK is to integrate state workforce and education data and make the information more readily available for research, analysis, and data-driven decision making. INK is not meant to tell people what to do; rather, its purpose is to help students and employees, advocates, educators, and employers make informed decisions based on the best available data. It will also be a resource available to legislators and policymakers to aid in making data-driven decisions.
What data elements does INK currently have? [View]
Currently, INK contains various data elements from pre-K, K-12, higher education, workforce, and social services. Pre-k data elements include information on early learning program quality, assessments, and demographic information. K-12 data elements include information about high school graduation, diploma earned, test scores, attendance, and demographic information. Higher education data elements include higher education enrollment, major pursued, cumulative semester GPA, credits attempted and earned, remediation status in English and Math, degree earned, and major area in which degree was earned. Workforce data elements include wage, industry of employment, and area of employment (e.g., county or economic growth region). Social service data elements include information about assistance programs, job training, and demographic information. INK does not include non-educational or workforce information, such as biometric information, juvenile, disciplinary, and criminal records, or medical and health information.
Is INK used to “track” individual students? [View]
No. INK contains longitudinal data that links records across pre-K, K-12, higher education, and the workforce. However, the INK production system does not contain identifiable information; therefore, it is not possible to identify any individuals through the system. Further, per FERPA, state law, and Bureau of Labor Statistics policies, as well as the MOU between the partner agencies, INK data may be used only to fulfill statutory aggregated reporting requirements; for audit and evaluation of state- and federally-funded programs; for research using de-identified data; and for aggregated reports designed to answer key stakeholder and policy questions.
Is INK secure? [View]
Yes. INK is a secure system. The production database that is used for pulling data out of INK contains only de-identified data, meaning that an individual cannot be identified. The INK system has been developed and will be maintained by the Management Performance Hub (MPH). The servers on which INK is located are hosted by the Indiana Office of Technology (IOT) and are covered by all security policies and procedures in place at IOT. IOT has developed an Information Security Framework that applies to all state agencies supported by IOT (which includes FSSA, DWD, and CHE, as well as the servers on which INK is located). IOT also has a robust disaster recovery plan in the event of a natural or human-induced disaster.Per agency policy and state and federal law, only authorized representatives of each partner agency are permitted to access record-level data. Data sharing and reporting are covered by privacy and confidentiality laws, described below. It’s important to note that INK is a state system built by Hoosiers for Hoosiers. Almost every state has some form of a statewide longitudinal data system for education (pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education). Indiana is unique among its peers in that it has included workforce data from the very beginning. INK will allow Indiana to expand access, maintain rigorous security standards, and protect confidentiality using the latest technology available.
What types of privacy and confidentiality laws cover the data elements contained in INK? [View]
Data collected and maintained by the Indiana Department of Education and Indiana Commission for Higher Education are covered by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Data collected and maintained by the Department of Workforce Development are covered by various state laws governing the allowable use of wage and employer data, as well as policies in place from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to protect employer and employee privacy.
As part of the existing MOU in place between the four partner agencies, a governance policy was designed that provided additional requirements around reporting of aggregated data, to further protect individual privacy. Prior to publishing any aggregated reports that use linked data, each source agency must review and approve the reports to ensure that student, employer, and employee privacy is protected. Further, data cells that contain fewer than 10 individuals are not publicly reported in order to ensure that privacy and confidentiality is protected. In addition, under the new INK legislation, the governance committee, in collaboration with the Executive Director and agency leads, is tasked with creating and implementing any additional policies and procedures necessary to ensure that data are secure and that privacy rules are being followed. For more information about the laws related to INK data check out our Statute and our Privacy page.
Does an individual, agency, or entity “own” INK? [View]
No individual, agency, or entity “owns” INK. Instead, the project is a collaboration across agencies with shared ownership that is managed by a governance committee. The governance committee is staffed by the Governor’s office. Additional leadership and support for INK would be provided by the INK governance committee. The governance committee is made up of representatives from the Indiana Department of Education, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the Family and Social Services Administration, a representative for private higher education, and a representative from the business community.
The governance committee is responsible for working with the Executive Director to ensure that proper governance procedures are carried out; that each agency is responsible for providing data to the system and acting as the expert data steward for the data that it collects; that appropriate stakeholders are identified and engaged; and that all privacy and confidentiality rules governing the data are followed. Each agency is responsible for collaborating with the other partner agencies to identify key stakeholder questions that utilize INK data and for identifying the data elements necessary to answer those questions. To learn more about the governance committee and see the current members visit the Governance Committee page.
Does any one agency or entity have the authority to run reports or data calculations, using another agency’s data, without that agency’s knowledge? [View]
No. INK is not designed to allow an agency, entity, or individual to run data reports or calculations using another agency’s data without the knowledge of the source agency. Most data elements found in INK are designed to promote longitudinal data analysis, across various levels of education and the workforce. Reports that use data collected by various agencies are created with input from each agency, including input on appropriate data elements, data definitions, business rules, and reporting structures. The memoranda of understanding between each agency, as well as policies created by the governance committee, in collaboration with the Executive Director and agency leads, help to guide decisions on what reports are created and published.
Who decides which data elements are incorporated into INK? [View]
Primarily, it is the role of the governance committee to identify which data elements, collected and stewarded by each agency, should be included in the INK data system. To create the initial version of INK, the governance committee collaborated with agency leads and technical experts at each agency, as well as the Executive Director, to create a statewide research agenda and research questions. The guiding questions and agenda helped to determine which data elements were needed in order to answer the questions and support the research agenda.
Once those data elements were identified, each agency lead and their technical teams became responsible for working with the Executive Director to establish a schedule and routine process for submitting those elements to INK. The agency leads, agency technical teams, and Executive Director are then responsible for working collaboratively to create appropriate business rules and data definitions necessary for supporting any reporting frameworks that are created to support the research agenda. The governance committee, in collaboration with their agency leads and technical teams, will be consulted on adding additional data to INK as other potentially meaningful data are identified.
What is the role of the governance committee? [View]
Since INK is a collaborative effort that requires joint ownership, the governance committee ensures that “ownership” of the system is fairly distributed; is collaborative; and represents the interests and constituencies of all stakeholders. The governance committee is responsible for direct oversight of INK. The governance committee is also responsible for setting a research agenda and identifying key research questions; approving the project budget; developing and implementing security and privacy plans; and overseeing the development of public access to the system. The statute does not allow INK governance committee to supplant the agencies’ data collection efforts and agencies continue to own their own data. To learn more about the Governance committee and see the current members visit the Governance Committee page.
What is the role of the governance committee? [View]
As stated above, no individual, agency, or entity “owns” INK, including the Executive Director. It is a collaborative effort that is supported by multiple agencies and individuals. The governance committee provides the ultimate oversight for the system. The role of the Executive Director is to manage the day-to-day operations of the system, to ensure that deliverables are met and that the system is operating in a safe, secure, efficient, and effective manner. The Executive Director works closely with the governance team, as well as advisory committees and other identified stakeholders, to develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures concerning the system’s data quality, integrity, transparency, security, and confidentiality.
Further, under the direction of the governance committee, the Executive Director coordinates the delivery of identified data elements from each partner agency. Note that the Executive Director is not responsible for identifying the data elements that should be provided to INK; instead, that is the responsibility of the governance committee, working in close collaboration with the Executive Director and agency leads at each partner agency. The Executive Director also works closely with agency leads at each agency to ensure that appropriate business rules, privacy safeguards, data definitions, and other important components necessary to ensure data quality and security are in place. The statute requires the Executive Director to engage stakeholders both within the state and externally to ensure the success of INK.