Can Student Data Improve Learning Without Compromising Privacy?

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Instead of locking student data in the principal’s office, more school districts are moving it to cloud providers.

By sharing data with private companies, schools can improve student learning using data analysis tools. But on the flip side, privacy advocates worry that student data is not safe in the hands of schools or the third parties they contract with. “Across the board, students unfortunately don’t have the level of protection they need,” said Khaliah Barnes, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s Student Privacy Project. Voices of concern seem to be getting louder.

A lawsuit filed in California accused Google of violating anti-wiretapping laws by scanning student email, a practice the company has since abandoned. At least 32 states have taken up student data privacy legislation this session. And policymakers throughout the nation had previously gathered in Washington, DC for a School Privacy Summit that addressed this matter. The issue of student data privacy has indeed sparked a national conversation.

Common Sense Media recommends three overarching principles for schools and policymakers to consider:

  1. Students’ personal information should be used only for educational purposes.
  2. Students’ personal information and online activity should not be used to target advertising to students or families.
  3. Education technology providers in schools should have appropriate data security policies in place.

Can Student Data Improve Learning Without Compromising Privacy?