Student Data Privacy Around the Around

A brief recap of the first 3 months of student data & privacy related news in 2016.

Every Student Succeeds Act

President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December, 2015, reauthorizing the 50-year-old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and intended to fix No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The ESSA is intended to ensure student success for students and schools, containing provisions for protecting disadvantaged and high need students, including academic standards and assessment requirements, and supporting development of evidence-based educational intervention.The National Center for Mental Health in Schools in the Department of Psychology at UCLA released a policy brief in February analyzing how well the policy addresses barriers to learning and re-engaging disconnected students, and presents frameworks for improving how schools provide student and learning supports. The Center reports that the act clearly identifies the barriers to learning that need to be addressed but addresses them in a piecemeal fashion that “conveys a fragmented picture and lack of coherence with respect to essential student and learning supports.”

How to handle testing opt-outs is an area that remains unclear under the ESSA. The act requires states to report the percentage of students participating in mandatory state exams and that the states need to provide a clear explanation of how the State will factor the requirement into the accountability system. The lack of specificity leaves it up to states to determine how to factor opt-out rates into the accountability system and what actions to take to address high opt-out rates.

The Senate HELP Committee held a hearing on the implementation of ESSA with education leaders from across the country in late February. Senator Patty Murray stated that the law rolls back government involvement and reduces the “burdensome” requirements of NCLB but provides appropriate guard rails for states. School districts and educators requested that clarity be provided about vague aspects of the law (i.e., accountability, & assessment).

CC BY 2.0-licensed University of Maryland and Sourcefire Announce New Cybersecurity Partnership by Merrill College of Journalism Press.

Articles & Resources

· The National Association of State Boards of Education released an issue of its journal focusing on designing effective assessment systems, providing guidelines and examples of successful systems.

· NYC Board of Regents Chancellor, Merrly H. Tisch, ending post

· The Future of Privacy Forum provides an explanation of FERPA’s School Official Exception.

· Educators at SXSWedu 2016 discuss their experiences with tech in schools and concerns related to student data.

· The ACLU and the Tenth Amendment Center join forces to push states to adopt model legislation that they argue will fill gaps in student data privacy protections.

· The Center for Democracy and Technology posted a blog about the risks of schools surveilling students’ social media

· Senator Al Franken wrote a letter to Google CEO about the company collecting information about students’ Internet habits without their or their parents permission.

· Family suing Palo Alto school district for “genetic discrimination” after child’s DNA test results were shared.

· Natasha Singer of the New York Times reports on an app that lets teachers track student attendance and automatically text guardians if the child is absent or tardy.