Now more than ever, teachers are using digital tools to help students learn. But how do we ensure that educators don’t end up in the hot seat in student privacy debates? In a Project 24 webinar this week, Tom Murray, state and digital learning director at the Alliance for Excellent Education, talked with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) expert Mark Cheramie Walz about the steps schools and districts can take to keep student information safe and ensure that apps used in schools comply with privacy laws, such as COPPA.
Created in 1998, COPPA is a federal law that requires commercial online service providers, such as the makers of educational apps, to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under age 13. By governing how online service providers collect and use student information, COPPA helps ensure children’s information is kept secure and supports a parent’s rights to protect their child’s data.
Verifiable parental consent is a critical component of COPPA. It requires the operators of online services to obtain a parent’s sign-off before collecting any personal information, such as name and email address, from kids. When online services are used in schools, school administrators and district leaders can play a leadership role in ensuring parents give consent before any apps are used.
In addition to the issue of consent, Walz and Murray touch on a variety of other issues, such as terms of service and third-party contracts. Go here to watch a full recording of the webinar.
We were so lucky to have a data-literate rock star teacher in our office this summer, when DC Public Schools teacher Raquel Maya Carson joined us to provide insight on teacher data use in the classroom. We learned so much about the real nitty-gritty of teacher #eddata use from Raquel. Now that she is back in the classroom passing on her magic to a new group of students, I have salved my sadness around her absence a little bit by discovering this video featuring a data-literate teacher in action via our friends at Urban Teacher Residency United.
My favorite part of this video is that Micah O’Hare, the teacher featured here, talks about data foremost as a tool for empowering his students and helping them own their progress. Because data are so often elements of quality accountability models, it’s easy when we talk about them to forget that the ultimate goal of data use is empowerment and improving student achievement.
State policy alone cannot change culture, but it can create a framework and an impetus for the kinds of changes needed to build an educator workforce that uses data as one tool in their efforts to serve every student. Check out DQC’s recommendations for building teacher data literacy here. The best thing that state leaders can do, in addition to implementing these recommendations, is to seek out their schools and districts that have already found strategies for incorporating data into daily practice and use them as models for policy and implementation.