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Rachel Anderson posted on 5/22/2015.

EdData Privacy Update: 5/22/2015

The current flurry of state and federal legislation reflects a national consensus: safeguarding student information is important. The uptick of attention paid to student privacy is understandable given the recent shift of education technology—and data use—from the fringes of classroom culture to the mainstream. Also a part of this national conversation is the need to protect teacher information. States, districts, and the service providers they work with collect data on teachers and while some information on teachers may be of public interest, other information is sensitive and must be safeguarded.

How can we think about teacher information?

Much like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) designates some student information (such as name, address, grade level, participation on sports teams, etc.) as directory information that can be disclosed in more situations than other parts of a student’s record, there are two ways to think about teacher data:

  • Employee information (name, address, information about teachers’ education, certifications, and experience, etc.)
  • Performance information including student growth data and classroom observations (e.g., data that’s often used for teacher evaluation)

Most of the headlines about teacher data focus on performance information, but employee information is a critical piece of the teacher privacy picture as well.

Questions around when and how states should disclose teacher performance data are leading states into largely uncharted territory. At the crux of the issue is the question: Do parents (or the community, or policymakers) have a right to know teacher evaluation scores? If yes, does the right to be informed outweigh a teacher’s right to privacy? The answers to these questions have very real implications for teachers, parents, and communities. For example, much debate was sparked back in 2010 when the Los Angeles Times published the value-added ratings and names of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District and was met with swift backlash from teachers and unions. More recently, Virginia has been in the spotlight after a parent sued state officials to force the release of teacher evaluation data under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

How do existing state laws protect teachers?

Most states have laws that govern access to employees’ personnel records. Some states’ open-records laws and court interpretations give the public a right to access employee evaluations. In other states, government officials can keep some information from employees’ personnel records strictly confidential. Many other states determine public access to employee records on a case-by-case basis.

Still, state employee privacy laws don’t always apply to teacher data. Where general employee privacy laws are not sufficient, states can implement policies specific to teacher data. For example, New York limits the disclosure of teacher evaluation information to parents or guardians of students in the teacher’s class. The public can still see evaluation data, but only with the names of teachers removed. Tennessee and Louisiana have strong teacher privacy laws. The Tennessee law specifically addresses the disclosure of teacher performance data to the press, whereas the Louisiana law offers a more comprehensive look at teacher evaluation, including the parameters for disclosure of teacher performance data.

What legislation have states considered around teacher privacy in 2015?

A few states have made efforts to protect teacher privacy in 2015 legislation—most by simply applying the state’s protections of student data to teacher data as well. Eight states have introduced 13 teacher privacy bills so far in 2015, all of which deal with protecting teachers' employee information. In comparison, during the same time period, 45 states introduced 178 bills and passed 12 laws relating to student privacy.  Only few states this year have introduced bills to keep data on teacher performance private; for example, South Carolina introduced a bill to prevent through FOIA the disclosure of teacher evaluation records that could identify an individual with the goal “to promote candid feedback for continuous improvement of teaching and learning.”

Looking ahead, what should we be aware of?

As states continue to develop laws that both protect teacher privacy and provide critical data to schools and parents, they’ll need to address some important issues including:

  • How to ensure teachers have access to their own data and are empowered to use this information to reflect and improve on their practice.
  • How to protect privacy while avoiding any unintended consequences that might interfere with established education practices. For example, prohibiting videotaping in a classroom could have unintended consequences for professional development opportunities or teacher evaluations processes. Limiting when teacher data can be shared could prevent the state from providing feedback to teachers’ preparation programs on how their graduates do in the classroom.
  • How to protect teacher privacy when they use a third-party website/app.

States must work to ensure that all education data are used as a flashlight to illuminate best practices and successful pathways, not as a hammer to punish perceived failures. As states continue to create student and teacher data and privacy laws, they can find ways to protect privacy and turn on the light!

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Brennan Parton posted on 5/12/2015.

State Legislatures Look at Education Data Use—Round 2

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Last week I did a quick roundup of some of the legislative efforts to make education data useful to educators. Early warning systems, student data backpacks, and professional development focused on data use have all been topics of legislation this session. Lest you think that is the extent of policymaker attention on #eddata use—I am here to tell you, fret not, reader, there is more. In addition to policies proposed to help teachers use data, there has also been a slew focusing on using data to better understand the quality of teacher preparation programs and how well teachers are supporting student learning. You can find round two of our mid(ish)-legislative session recap, below.

Publicly reporting data regarding the characteristics and success of state teacher prep programs can be used to provide leaders, principals, and aspiring teachers with a picture of how well the programs are preparing future educators. Minnesota, at it again, has proposed multiple legislation regarding the public reporting of information about the quality of the state’s teacher prep programs. One bill requires the Board of Teaching and Board of School Administrators, in cooperation with all colleges of education in the state, to annually collect and report summary data on teacher prep and performance outcomes. This bill in particular also requires future teacher development programs to include opportunities for teachers to use student data as part of their daily work toward increasing student achievement. It’s so important for aspiring teachers to understand the value of data as a tool in the classroom, and to gain data literacy skills while in pre-service training. 

Another bill proposed by Minnesota lawmakers also included a requirement that the report on teacher prep data be published in an “understandable, useful, and readily accessible format.” More often than not, the public is unaware of the amount of publicly reported data they have access to or are provided data in difficult to understand formats. In DQC’s public reporting guide for policymakers, we suggest making information for stakeholders easy to find, access, and understand. Policymakers should provide additional resources for stakeholders to know how to interpret the information and use the data to inform decision-making.

Texas took a different, yet still meaningful, approach to the reporting of teacher prep data. The Lone Star State’s bill requires each teacher prep program to submit disaggregated data elements to the State Board of Education. The goal of these reports is to ensure access and equity through an annual performance of each program. 

Also top of mind for many legislators this session are reforms to teacher evaluation systems. I mentioned in my last post that for data to be useful, they have to be trusted. With so much change in the education space right now, particularly new assessments, leaders want to make data-based evaluation systems trustworthy. Several states have focused new legislation on reducing the weight of student growth and academic performance on teacher evaluations. Colorado introduced a bill that reduces the required weight of academic growth from at least 50 percent to 15 percent.

In that same vein, several bills regarding the use of data in teacher evaluations have already been signed into law by governors. These include a Tennessee bill that first decreases, and then steadily increases the weight of student growth data in teacher evaluations over the next few school years. Florida also passed a bill establishing a third of all educator and administrator evaluations must be based upon data and indicators of student performance. Finally, Maine passed a bill that requires student growth to be a significant factor in educator evaluations, however the proportionate weight of this growth is left up to local decision.

The value of data for educators and schools in improving student achievement is only effective when policies and practices are in place to safeguard critical student information.  Regardless of what happens with these bills, I am glad to see so many of our lawmakers paying attention to the various ways they can exercise leadership to make data both safe and useful. 

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admin posted on 3/21/2014


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Guest posted on 8/9/2013


Informed Decisionmaking in Practice: Connecting Data and Policy in Delaware

Kristin Yochum posted on 8/2/2013


DQC Gets a New Baby Sister: Workforce Data Quality Campaign

Amilcar Guzman posted on 7/31/2013


Can Data See the Future?

Elizabeth Dabney posted on 7/29/2013


One Parent’s Experience Using School Report Cards

Stephen Firestone posted on 7/25/2013


You Don’t Have to Be a Data Geek to Love Data

Guest posted on 7/23/2013


Data Advancing College and Career Success in NYC

Brennan Parton posted on 7/19/2013


MYTH BUSTER: Why Teachers and Data Go Together

Guest posted on 7/17/2013


Leveraging Data and Lighting Fires

Adam Ash posted on 7/15/2013


Policy Reform? Let’s Talk Data!

Guest posted on 7/12/2013


Harnessing the Power of Data in Garden City, Kansas

Chris Kingsley posted on 7/11/2013


Changing the Ground Game

Aimee Guidera posted on 7/10/2013


3 Reasons We Need Data to Improve Education

Chris Kingsley posted on 7/9/2013


Introducing Citizen Kingsley

Rachel Anderson posted on 6/28/2013


Insights Abound at Virginia’s LDS Conference

Evan Omerso posted on 6/27/2013


Congrats to 2013 Guaduates!

Kristin Yochum posted on 6/26/2013


DQC's Six Federal Policy Principles

Adam Ash posted on 6/21/2013


House Committee Highlights Data’s Importance in ESEA Reauthorization

admin posted on 6/19/2013


DATA FLASH: June 19, 2013

Amilcar Guzman posted on 6/19/2013


5 Tips on Early Warning Data

Brennan Parton posted on 6/17/2013


College and Career Readiness Begins before High School

Adam Ash posted on 6/14/2013


The Continued Role of Data in ESEA Reauthorization

Paige Kowalski posted on 6/12/2013


The Box of Data under the Bed

Kristin Yochum posted on 6/10/2013


ESEA Flexibility Waivers and Data

Guest posted on 6/6/2013


New Report Explores Federal Opportunities to Promote Data in Classrooms

Amilcar Guzman posted on 6/5/2013


Using Early Warning Data to Keep Students on Track toward College and Careers

Guest posted on 6/4/2013


Interview with FERPA and Privacy Attorney Steve Winnick

Kathy Lally posted on 6/3/2013


Helping Children in Foster Care with Data Sharing

Adam Ash posted on 5/30/2013


Are You Ready? Why Data Are Critical to the College-Going Process

Guest posted on 5/29/2013


Go Far, Go Together

Amilcar Guzman posted on 5/28/2013


How the Federal Budget Can Support States’ Data Efforts: A Deeper Dive

Rebecca Shah posted on 5/24/2013


Report Cards Aren’t Just for Students

Lisa Sparrow posted on 5/23/2013


Empowering Parents with Education Data

Kristin Yochum posted on 5/22/2013


Geek Chic

Elizabeth Laird posted on 5/21/2013


Don’t Call It a Rebrand

Elizabeth Dabney posted on 5/20/2013


Where Does Your State Stand?

Evan Omerso posted on 5/17/2013


Seek, and Ye Shall Find Resources

Jessica Lyons posted on 5/16/2013


Tell It Again, Tell It Again!

Elizabeth Laird posted on 5/15/2013


DQC's New Website Is Live!

Amilcar Guzman posted on 5/10/2013


How the Federal Budget Can Support States’ Data Efforts

Evan Omerso posted on 5/8/2013


The Countdown Is On: One Week Until the Big Reveal

Aimee Guidera posted on 5/8/2013


Four Actions Researchers Can Take to Make Their Work Count (and Support Education Data!)

Jessica Lyons posted on 5/6/2013


Homework: Kids and Parents Hate It but Education Data Make It Better

Jessica Lyons posted on 5/6/2013


DATA FLASH: May 6, 2013

Lisa Sparrow posted on 4/29/2013


Using Data to Make Smart Investments in Education

Guest posted on 4/19/2013


It’s All About Collaboration: Kentucky’s Early Childhood Profiles

Brita Fitzpatrick posted on 4/17/2013


The Business of Data in Education

Amilcar Guzman posted on 4/12/2013


Collecting and Sharing Data in Two Hemispheres

Elizabeth Dabney posted on 4/9/2013


Trust Me!

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 4/5/2013


How Data Help Locally: Students, Parents, Teachers, and Administrators

Adam Ash posted on 3/29/2013


Using Federal Resources to Develop Workforce Data Systems

Brennan Parton posted on 3/26/2013


Data Are Most Powerful in the Hands of Educators

Brennan Parton posted on 3/20/2013


Communicating the Data Message: Teacher Effectiveness

Jessica Lyons posted on 3/18/2013


DATA FLASH: March 18, 2013

Kathy Lally posted on 3/15/2013


My Three St. Patrick’s Day Wishes for Education

Guest posted on 3/13/2013


"Making Better Happen" Requires Data

Jessica Lyons posted on 3/13/2013


DATA FLASH: March 13, 2013

Paige Kowalski posted on 3/11/2013


Are We There Yet? The Quest for Sustainability

Rachel Anderson posted on 3/8/2013


Universal Preschool? Not without Data!

Rebecca Shah posted on 3/7/2013


Look Out, Silicon Valley—Virginia Is Coming for You

Brita Fitzpatrick posted on 3/5/2013


Principals Say Data Use Is the Most Important Professional Skill

Amilcar Guzman posted on 3/4/2013


Timely Information Crucial to Helping At-Risk Students

Amilcar Guzman posted on 3/1/2013


New Fact Sheet on Data to Prepare Students for Jobs

Lisa Sparrow posted on 2/26/2013


Dream a Data Dream: Why We Need Longitudinal Data

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 2/25/2013


Keeping Privacy Primary while Supporting Effective Data Use

Guest posted on 2/21/2013


Top Nine Tips for Communicating Education

Jessica Lyons posted on 2/20/2013


DATA FLASH: February 20, 2013

Guest posted on 2/19/2013


Communicating the College- and Career-Ready Agenda

Aimee Guidera posted on 2/13/2013


Lighting a Candle for Data Is Not Enough

Ashleigh Chin posted on 2/11/2013


My Search for 52 State Report Cards

Elizabeth Laird posted on 2/8/2013


David Brooks on Data: What It Means for Education

Amilcar Guzman posted on 2/7/2013


The Drive for Online Learning in Today’s Schools

Guest posted on 2/6/2013


Using Data to Improve State Policies about Principalship

Jessica Lyons posted on 2/5/2013


Wearing My Teacher Hat and My National Policy Hat

Guest posted on 2/1/2013


Early Warning Data Helping At-Risk Students in Massachusetts

Brennan Parton posted on 1/30/2013


10 New Tools for Talking about Education Data with Anyone

Aimee Guidera posted on 1/29/2013


Data Are Critical to Meeting Texas’s College- and Career-Readiness Goals

Jessica Lyons posted on 1/25/2013


DATA FLASH: January 25, 2013

Guest posted on 1/25/2013


Students Need the Right Information to Make Informed College Choices

Elizabeth Dabney posted on 1/24/2013


Linking, and Matching, and Sharing, Oh My! (Part 3)

Elizabeth Dabney posted on 1/23/2013


Linking, and Matching, and Sharing, Oh My! (Part 2)

Elizabeth Dabney posted on 1/22/2013


Linking, and Matching, and Sharing, Oh My! (Part 1)

Guest posted on 1/17/2013


Using Data to Grow a College-Going Culture at Liberty High School

Aimee Guidera posted on 1/16/2013


DQC Applauds Congress for FERPA Clarification Supporting Better Outcomes for Foster Children

Amilcar Guzman posted on 1/14/2013


High School Feedback DFA2012 Fact Sheet Released Today

Jessica Lyons posted on 1/11/2013


DATA FLASH: January 11, 2013

Brennan Parton posted on 1/9/2013


Teachers Should Not Have to Wing It When It Comes to Data

Brennan Parton posted on 1/7/2013


MYTH BUSTER: Think Parents Have the Info They Need about Their Students? Think Again.

Brennan Parton posted on 12/21/2012


Five Pressing Challenges to Effective Data Use: Challenge Five

Jessica Lyons posted on 12/21/2012


DATA FLASH: December 21, 2012

Guest posted on 12/20/2012


Data Shows the Importance of Early Education

Brennan Parton posted on 12/20/2012


Five Pressing Challenges to Effective Data Use: Challenge Four

Brennan Parton posted on 12/19/2012


Five Pressing Challenges to Effective Data Use: Challenge Three

Brennan Parton posted on 12/18/2012


Five Pressing Challenges to Effective Data Use: Challenge Two

Brennan Parton posted on 12/17/2012


Five Pressing Challenges to Effective Data Use: Challenge One

Guest posted on 12/14/2012


Early Warning System Reduces Dropouts in Alabama District

Rebecca Shah posted on 12/12/2012


Unpacking “P–20W Data Governance”

Amilcar Guzman posted on 12/9/2012


Early Warning Systems DFA2012 Fact Sheet Released Today

Guest posted on 12/7/2012


Turning Data into Information and Action at the Local Level

Jessica Lyons posted on 12/6/2012


Where Does Education Data Sit at the Dinner Table?

Elizabeth Laird posted on 12/4/2012


NEW REPORTS: DQC’s Breaking Down State Silos Series

Amilcar Guzman posted on 12/3/2012


Improving College Choice DFA2012 Fact Sheet Released Today

Jessica Lyons posted on 11/30/2012


DATA FLASH: November 30, 2012

Aimee Guidera posted on 11/30/2012


DQC's Aimee Guidera on ED Grad Rates Release

Bob Swiggum posted on 11/29/2012


State Data Systems Make a Difference for Students

Amilcar Guzman posted on 11/27/2012


ED Releases Historic Graduation Rates

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 11/26/2012


Empowering Parents DFA2012 Fact Sheet Released Today

admin posted on 11/21/2012


What DQC Is Thankful for This Year

Guest posted on 11/20/2012


Using Data to Improve Teacher Effectiveness: A Principal’s Perspective

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 11/20/2012


What Do the Recent Elections Mean for Education?

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 11/19/2012


DFA2012 Teacher Effectiveness Fact Sheet Released Today

Guest posted on 11/15/2012


Data for Action 2012 Is Here!

Guest posted on 11/13/2012


Get Ready for Data for Action 2012!

Jessica Lyons posted on 11/9/2012


DATA FLASH: November 9, 2012

Brennan Parton posted on 11/7/2012


Engaging Stakeholders Is Key to Quality Policy Implementation

Guest posted on 11/5/2012


#DFA2012: Data for Action 2012 Results Released November 15!

Jessica Lyons posted on 11/2/2012


DATA FLASH: November 2, 2012

Brennan Parton posted on 10/26/2012


The Importance of the Data-Driven Principal

Jessica Lyons posted on 10/26/2012


DATA FLASH: October 26, 2012

Guest posted on 10/25/2012


Principals’ Decisions Are Best Made with Data

Amilcar Guzman posted on 10/24/2012


Educators Need Better Feedback to Improve College and Career Readiness

Jessica Lyons posted on 10/24/2012


Miami-Dade Wins 2012 Broad Prize: What Happens When Stakeholders Are Empowered by Education Data

Guest posted on 10/23/2012


Oh, the Data We’ll See and the Places We’ll Go!

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 10/22/2012


DQC Celebrates National Principals Month

Jessica Lyons posted on 10/19/2012


DATA FLASH: October 19, 2012

Guest posted on 10/17/2012


How Will I Know If My Child Is Ready for College?

Elizabeth Laird posted on 10/16/2012


Putting the P in P–20W Data Systems

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 10/16/2012


Election 2012: Where Data Fits into the Candidates’ Education Plans

Alexandria Barkmeier posted on 10/15/2012


Quality Data Key to Improving Education

Guest posted on 10/12/2012


Finding the Story behind Education Data

Jessica Lyons posted on 10/11/2012


DATA FLASH: October 11, 2012

Elizabeth Dabney posted on 10/10/2012


What Football Taught Me about Putting Data in Context

Evan Omerso posted on 10/9/2012


MYTH BUSTER: Do You Know What Education Data Really Are?

Lyndsay Pinkus posted on 10/5/2012


How Data Drive School Improvement

Amilcar Guzman posted on 10/3/2012


Common Graduation Rate Calculations in Danger—What We Should Do

Paige Kowalski posted on 10/2/2012


Some Ed Data Problems Can Only Be Solved by the State


Evan Omerso posted on 10/1/2012


The Flashlight Shines on Education Data

Aimee Guidera posted on 11/2/2011


Changing the Ed Data Culture Takes Real Leadership