Over the last several months, I’ve shared a fewupdates on state bills introduced this year that address student data privacy. Now, as the majority of states have wrapped up their 2014 legislative sessions, it’s time to take a look at exactly what happened this year—and what may be coming next.
To help make sense of the 110 introduced student data privacy bills and over 20 new laws, DQC is releasing a paper today. It summarizes the important factors policymakers faced this year, the approaches states adopted to address these critical issues, and the new privacy landscape that will inform next year’s conversations and legislation.
So how did policymakers seek to safeguard student data privacy through legislation this year? Many bills introduced addressed a specific type of data, such as biometric data or data the state defines as sensitive (39 and 48 bills respectively). Other bills sought to govern data more broadly, often by assigning new privacy and security responsibilities to the state board of education (32 bills) or school districts (28 bills). Still other bills focused on new types of data collection, usually data collected by online service providers (17 bills).
Whatever approach states took to safeguard student privacy this year, the conversation is likely to evolve and continue next year. Protecting privacy isn’t a one-time event. States need responsive data governance and transparent, comprehensive policies to meet the growing opportunities to use education data to help students succeed. In the coming year, states will need to learn more about different types of education data (e.g., data collected by school districts and data generated by student use of online services) and the implications and different legislative approaches. In addition, states must continue to develop ways to make data use transparent and valued by parents, educators, and the public.
By understanding what happened in states across the country this year, everyone with a stake in education can help create and advocate for better policies in the future that harness and share the power of education data—and effectively safeguard them. Ultimately, implementing policies and practices that achieve both of these goals will build public trust in the value of education data and improve education for all students.
At the National Center for Education Statistic’s STATS-DC Data Conference, Donna Beauregard, a data coach from New Hampshire, gave a presentation on how the state is using data teams to transform the curricular instruction in classes. With so many useful tools and methods to keep track of student trends, improvements, and interventions, this presentation really stood out as a prime example of how education data can lead to significant progress in student achievement.
One unique aspect of the data teams in New Hampshire is that the state has only eight data coaches, all specialists in their own fields. For example, there is one data coach focused on reading and one on math, while another is a coach in the actual data systems used by the schools. This simplifies the use of data systems because the data coaches are working to ensure the same practices are followed in each school to form a teacher-friendly database, rather than separate data coaches using the system differently and preventing a common standard of use.
New Hampshire has several tools used by data coaches and teachers to ensure that students’ needs are met—and are recognized at an early level. For example, the database has an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) tool, which allows teachers and data coaches to store notes, observations, exams, and grades that can be shared if the child moves to a new school or a new city. This is helpful to teachers who are receiving new students and want to prepare for any additional instruction and assistance that a student may need.
The ILP tool ensures that a student’s needs are met at any school they attend because it includes a record of the number and types of interventions the student has had with their teacher and data coach in attempting to help reach their academic goals. The new teacher can look at the ILP and take note of trends illustrating which learning methods works for the student and how many interventions are necessary to keep the student on track. This saves time for the new teacher determining how to help students because the most effective learning methods for them have already been observed and recognized by previous teachers and data coaches.
Another tool I really appreciated was the online assessments that students were given throughout the year. The emphasis of these online assessments was placed on the fact that kids were able to take it and receive immediate feedback. This tool can be used after a data coach and teacher have worked with the student on a specific subject and want to assess the student on whether they have fully grasped the concept. Because feedback is immediate, data coaches and teachers can help the student move on to their next challenge quicker than if the online assessments were not utilized.
All of the tools used by data coaches and teachers in New Hampshire were created to help track a student for an extended period of time and to ensure that every teacher utilizes the most effective learning tools proven to improve that specific student’s academic achievement. I am so excited to see how these tools help improve overall student achievement throughout the state of New Hampshire in the coming years and how other states will replicate these tools to help their students as well!