When we develop policies or make decisions that affect students, we have to start with our values. This is true no matter if you are in the classroom or on Capitol Hill. For the first time, the education community has come together to affirm its commitment to the safe and effective use of student data and articulate common values to guide this work.
Last week at SXSWedu, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) released the Student Data Principles, fundamental beliefs about how students’ personal information should be used and protected. Over 30 education organizations representing a range of perspectives and voices at all levels of the education system—from parents to school board members to state school chiefs—support these 10 principles.
Each of our organizations believes passionately that the use of high-quality education data are critical to improving student achievement and success, and that educational institutions and anyone who has access to students’ personal information must do everything in their power to ensure that information is protected and used to support students.
So what do the principles say? At a fundamental level, we believe student information should support student learning; foster continuous improvement; and inform, engage, and empower students, families, and educators. It should be accessible to parents, students, and educators; inform the professional judgment of educators; and should only be shared for authorized school purposes.
We believe anyone with access to student information should follow clear rules that are publicly available, only have access to the minimum data they need to support student success, and be trained to ethically and effectively use student data.
Finally, we believe institutions that collect and maintain student information should have somebody responsible for making decisions about student data, notifying the public in the event of misuse or a breach, developing security that follows industry best practices, andensuring families and students can easily have their questions answered.
Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding student data. With these values guiding our work, we are on a better path to support the ability of everyone with a stake in education to use data effectively to support student achievement.
For more information about education data privacy, see resources from DQC and CoSN.
If you’re not familiar, Digital Learning Day is a time to learn about and celebrate the innovative strides education leaders are taking to meaningfully enhance students’ learning experiences with digital resources and tools. This year’s Digital Learning Day features everything from live events to lesson plans. One of the biggest highlights of the day’s festivities is its focus on stories of digital learning in action. Whether at the national event, on the Digital Learning Day website, or at their own local events, educators from across the country (and the world) will share their digital learning experiences and highlight best practices and new ideas about using technology in support of student learning.
But does embracing these new technologies and opportunities also mean having to compromise students’ privacy? Not at all. The education field, including educators, advocates, and representatives of the education technology industry, have been working to ensure that digital learning does not conflict with safeguarding students’ privacy.
Earlier this week, DQC and the Consortium for School Networking released the Student Data Principles to help guide the work of everyone who uses student information. These 10 principles, which over 30 education organizations have already signed on to, represent a shared commitment to using students’ information to benefit their learning and to safeguarding students’ privacy. The principles are one of a number of recent initiatives to safeguard student information, such as the Student Privacy Pledge developed by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association. Over 120 education technology organizations have signed on to this industry-led commitment to use data only as authorized by schools and families and to protect students’ data privacy.
In addition to the activities of the education and technology fields, the federal government and states have also been talking steps to ensure students’ privacy is protected when they use online or digital services. While the federal government considers new legislation and opportunities to update existing statute and continues to provide resources, states are introducing dozens of bills focused on protecting students’ digital data.
What all of these privacy initiatives suggest is that while digital learning may be new, the values we want to uphold—using information to open doors for students and protecting privacy—are not. As the Alliance for Excellent Education explains, “Digital Learning Day is not about technology, it’s about learning.” Technology represents a powerful tool for expanding classroom opportunities and personalizing learning, but it will only be used and useful if students, families, and educators can trust that their privacy is protected and learning is the goal.
New Book: How Do School Leaders Effectively Use Data to Improve Achievement?
In 2013 the Petworth neighborhood campus of Center City Public Charter Schools posted the biggest English Language Learner (ELL) achievement gains in Washington, DC. Through the use of data, teachers and other education leaders in the school found patterns that improved instruction by addressing the unique needs of each student.