The push to protect student data

It’s summer. School is out and kids are more concerned with what they're wearing to the pool, than with history and algebra.

But that doesn't mean teachers and other educators are taking a break.

In fact,  lots of them are spending their summer breaks grappling with student data.  What to gather. How to use it. And how to protect it.

Data has never played a greater role in education, particularly as schools move to models of "personalized learning," or tailoring a child's education to meet his or her abilities.  

And while there are lots of upsides to having so much information on students, there are downsides as well.

Parents are concerned about privacy—especially after the  NSA revelations and the Target data breach. Parents are also worried that marketers could get a hold of their kids' information.

The U.S. Department of Education has jumped in.  It issued new guidance for schools and districts about how to keep parents informed about data collection.  

There’s also a new government website focused on the federal laws that cover how student data can be used.  

And this video highlighting The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act known as FERPA: 

 

Last week, U.S. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced new federal legislation to protect student privacy.  They’ve called it the “Protecting Student Privacy Act of 2014.” 

Here are some highlights of the bill.   (And take note, it's  all about how data is shared--not about what's collected) 


 cloud  Security 

  • Requires educational agencies and schools to have security measures in place to keep student data confidential.
  • All parties to whom schools and agencies disclose data must have established security procedures to protect the data.
  • Any outside party obtaining access to records must destroy all copies, after the data has been used for the expressed purpose.

cloud  Marketing

  • Outside parties can’t use the data to market to students.

transparency Transparency

  • Parents and students must be allowed to view records and request corrections of any data they believe is inaccurate.
  • Agencies and schools must keep track of who requests access to educational records.

 

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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