Everyone Has a Role in Safeguarding Data

Everyone Has a Role in Safeguarding Data

We have more useful and rich data than ever before that can be used to support learning and achievement of every child in this country. But teachers and families won’t use this information to make decisions, personalize learning and help students succeed if they don’t trust it is safe to do so.

Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding data. From the White House to the schoolhouse, we need everyone to prioritize keeping student data private and secure. In the past several months, there has been growing evidence that the nation is taking this charge seriously.

In the past year 21 states have passed 26 new student privacy laws, which provide greater transparency about what data are being collected, for what purposes, and how they are governed and protected. The education technology industry, which is providing data analytic tools for teachers to tailor teaching to individual student needs, has pledged a series of commitments to safeguard data that has been signed by more than 90 companies. School districts are strengthening their policies and practices around data collection, access, and use.

Over the past several months, DQC and the Consortium for School Networking have convened a coalition of national education organizations, representing a range of perspectives, experience, and stakeholders in the field, to develop a set of shared principles for safeguarding the personal information of America’s students. Those principles will be released this spring and will be shared widely throughout the education community to broaden and reinforce the efforts mentioned above

President Obama has named protecting student information one of the nation’s most important priorities, calling for Congress to pass new laws that protect student data in the State of the Union address. The president also addressed student privacy during a speech last week at the FTC, where he announced forthcoming resources from the US Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center, including a model terms of service and teacher training assistance.

In a year when Congress is considering making revisions to our foundational federal education laws, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the Higher Education Act, it is important that student data privacy and security be prioritized in each of these reauthorizations. There is an opportunity to clarify the federal protections of student data and to create coherence and alignment across federal and state actions that safeguard privacy while ensuring data can be used to improve student achievement.

Development of the principles to safeguard student data is just one of many efforts by DQC to work in collaboration with education and privacy experts on protecting student information. You can see the full suite of our resources on safeguarding data here. To learn more about CoSN’s privacy initiative, which provides education leaders with resources to better understand and navigate today’s major federal laws, go here.

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