Student Data Principles

What are the Student Data Principles?

In fall 2014, the Data Quality Campaign and the Consortium for School Networking convened a diverse coalition of national education organizations to talk about what we needed to do together to address important and pressing concerns about student data privacy, and equip the field with the ability to effectively use and protect student information.

Together we developed the Student Data Principles. These 10 principles are the values that guide our work and that we believe should guide the work of everyone who uses student information to support learning and success. This is a fundamental framework for educational institutions to build upon, above and beyond complying with federal, state, and local laws.

10 Foundational Principles for Using and Safeguarding Students’ Personal Information

High-quality education data is essential for improving students’ achievement in school and preparing them for success in life. When effectively used, data can empower educators, students, and families with the information they need to make decisions to help all learners succeed.

Everyone who uses student information has a responsibility to maintain students’ privacy and the security of their data, especially when data is personally identifiable. This starts with limiting the data that is collected, stored, shared, and used to support student learning and success. Whenever possible, aggregated, de-identified data that does not identify individual students should be used to inform key policy decisions and help improve services and systems that benefit students.

In instances where using personal information is necessary, those few individuals who have access to this information to carry out their duties must handle it in a legal, responsible, and ethical manner.

As organizations that believe passionately in the effective use of data to support student learning and success, we offer this set of principles for safeguarding students’ personal information. In addition to complying with federal, state, and local laws, we believe educational institutions and anyone who has access to students’ personal information should adhere to and build upon the following foundational principles.

We believe:

  1. Student data should be used to further and support student learning and success.
  2. Student data is most powerful when used for continuous improvement and personalizing student learning.
  3. Student data should be used as a tool for informing, engaging, and empowering students, families, teachers, and school system leaders.
  4. Students, families, and educators should have timely access to information collected about the student.
  5. Student data should be used to inform and not replace the professional judgment of educators.
  6. Students’ personal information should only be shared, under terms or agreement, with service providers for legitimate educational purposes; otherwise the consent to share must be given by a parent, guardian, or a student, if that student is over 18. School systems should have policies for overseeing this process, which include support and guidance for teachers.
  7. Educational institutions, and their contracted service providers with access to student data, including researchers, should have clear, publicly available rules and guidelines for how they collect, use, safeguard, and destroy data.
  8. Educators and their contracted service providers should only have access to the minimum
    student data required to support student success.
  9. Everyone who has access to students’ personal information should be trained and know how to effectively and ethically use, protect, and secure it.
  10. Any educational institution with the authority to collect and maintain student personal information should:
    1. have a system of governance that designates rules, procedures, and the individual or group responsible for decisionmaking regarding data collection, use, access, sharing, and security, and use of online educational programs;
    2. have a policy for notification of any misuse or breach of information and available remedies;
    3. maintain a security process that follows widely accepted industry best practices;
    4. provide a designated place or contact where students and families can go to learn of their rights and have their questions about student data collection, use, and security answered.

The Student Data Principles were created by the following 41 supporting organizations in the fall of 2014 who share these core beliefs and have used the Principles to guide their work since:

All4Ed, AASA, AACTE, AASL, AFT, ASCA, ASBO International, Connect Safely, COSN, CAEP, CCSSO, DQC, Digital Promise, The Education Trust, Educators 4 Excellence, ExcelinEd, FPF, iKeepSafe, IHEP, iNACOL, ISTE, Knowledge Alliance, NAESP, NASSP, NASBE, NASDTEC, NCLD, NCTQ, NEA, NPTA, NSBA, National Student Clearinghouse, PDK International, Project Tomorrow, SIF Association, Stand for Children, SETDA, SHEEO, Strive Together, Students First, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute.