No Child Left Behind – Another example of the promising facade of our children’s futures
I love when doing research you start looking for one thing (data mining examples with military equipment) and stumble upon something else (data mining example with drama).
In 2002 a Louisiana representative “slipped” a provision into the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) that “requires high schools to give recruiters the names and contacts” of select students. If the school failed to comply? Then it’s Your School Is Left Behind act. So here comes the Pentagon amassing data from the Selective Service, state DMVs, and “data brokers to create a database of tens of millions of young adults and teens, some as young as 15”. Fifteen! Interesting that the database, which “now holds 34 million names” is run by Equifax.
Students can opt out, but as a parent of a young man who graduated high school in 2008 I had no idea–although I did wonder why recruiters were actually calling him on his cell phone. So, in 2007 the Pentagon agreed to “stop collecting names and SSNs of anyone younger than 17 and promising not to share its database records with other government agencies”, but I wonder if that meant private as well — that’s a huge money making database!
More data mining methods include obscure web sites like march2success.com which is run by the Army and includes ways to increase your American College Testing (ACT)/Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores as well as assisting with post high school plans [hello]. There is a little Army logo on the bottom right of the web site. Another method is classroom data mining, more notably the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. With this test each student provides critical information such as SSN, GPA, ethnicity, etc. and is a mandatory test at some high schools.
The military used a marketing and research firm to do custom segmentation which allowed the analyst (the recruiter) a way to focus in on the target. As the web site points out; it isn’t just a cold calling trick — it’s a foot in the door to conversation with the young person because it has already gathered enough information about the student to drive it.
Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies (JAMRS) was utilized for this data mining project. One of its objectives is to “explore the perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes of American youth as they relate to joining the Military”. It also says this is critical to “the success of sustaining an All-Volunteer Force” and that would probably be a true statement after a few years of media covered military deaths. JAMRS uses youth market surveys, polls and other customized studies to cluster, pattern and segment our youth.
Not just that, but how likely parents are to recommend military service (see Figure 2 in the Influencer_Poll_10.pdf). This isn’t new, we still have data from the Youth Attitude Tracking Study (YATS) which was conducted from 1975 until 1999. There was an easy fact to identify then; volunteerism declined following Operation Desert Storm and then in 1991 rose but fell again in 2004. War = less likely to volunteer. I wonder how much they paid for that study!
At any rate, most of the ways this organization used to get the data was surveys and the Pentagon can use that data along with the NCLB data, add in public school data, any time a youth clicks “Like” on the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force icon in Facebook, getting or downloading “from the hills…” cell phone ring tone, etc etc etc and you have a pretty sophisticated way to narrow in on the young men and women who are more likely to join the military.
I won’t be using this at work — I want to find patterns which address money hungry government contracts than I do human hungry recruiters.