Protecting Data Privacy with Thoughtful Policy

Data privacy is an issue that is coming to your backyard…if it hasn’t already. It was that sentiment that Data Quality Campaign’s (DQC) Aimee Rogstad Guidera used to kick off the Data Privacy Challenges and Opportunities panel at ExcelinEd’s 2015 Summit on Education Reform (#EIE15).

Policy research from DQC confirms the current level of state activity on student data. According to DQC’s September 2015 Student Data Privacy Legislation overview, 46 states introduced 182 bills addressing student data privacy and 15 states passed 28 new student data privacy laws.

In order to highlight the fact that everyone plays a role in protecting student data, the EIE15 panel featured diverse voices: Buzz Brockway (Georgia House of Representatives), Mark Schneiderman, (Vice President of Government Affairs, SchoolMessenger & Former Senior Director of Education Policy, SIIA), Kristen Soltis Anderson, (Founder, Echelon Insights) and Elana Zeide (Research Fellow New York University’s Information Law Institute).

The panel wasn’t sheepish about addressing the real concerns–from those of parents to policymakers–when it comes to the student data privacy. In acknowledgement of these challenges, the panel pointed to policy solutions that can boost transparency, protect privacy and power personalized learning. States can turn to resources from organizations like ExcelinEd and DQC to review recent legislation that can serve as inspiration for states to strike a balance between protecting student data and allowing teachers, leaders and policymakers to use data to improve education.

According to pollster Anderson, surveys of parents indicate that student data privacy is not among their top educational concerns. However, as technology increases the flood of student data, when parents are interested in what, when and how the data is being used and are most comfortable with data that informs instruction.

In recognition of the valid concerns of parents and communities, Schneiderman highlighted the Student Privacy Pledge, that now boasts nearly 200 signatories and shows the edtech industry’s commitment to “carry out responsible stewardship and appropriate use of student personal information according to the commitments below and in adherence to all laws applicable to us as school service providers.”  He also reviewed a list of ways the technology industry is working with schools and districts through adaptive courseware, communications and engagement, recommendation engines, enterprise software and R&D/Continuous Improvement.

The Data Backpack was also raised as a powerful vehicle and “important concept” for protecting privacy and powering personalization.

ExcelinEd has made supporting states on Data Privacy a key priority. Their resources include:

For more on Data Privacy and Personalization, see:

For more on the @ExcelinEd National Summit on Education Reform visit the #EIE15 hashtag on Twitter.

ExcelinEd is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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