Vista Equity Partners has been buying up software used in schools. Parents want to know what the companies do with kids’ data By Todd Feathers
Over the past six years, a little-known private equity firm, Vista Equity Partners, has built an educational software empire that wields unseen influence over the educational journeys of tens of millions of children. Along the way, The Markup found, the companies the firm controls have scooped up a massive amount of very personal data on kids, which they use to fuel a suite of predictive analytics products that push the boundaries of technology’s role in education and, in some cases, raise discrimination concerns.
One district we examined uses risk-scoring algorithms from a company in the group, PowerSchool, that incorporate indicators of family wealth to predict a student’s future success—a controversial practice that parents don’t know about—raising troubling questions.