Communicating Student Data Privacy

May 15, 2016

In recent years, student data privacy has emerged as a major education issue at federal, state and local levels. Recent news coverage and social media conversations about student data access, especially as it relates to outside service providers, have heightened the public’s overall interest in the use and security of student data.

According to Future Ready partner Data Quality Campaign, there are currently over 100 privacy-related bills in 32 state legislatures. With student data privacy being debated at the federal level, state legislatures enacting new laws throughout the nation, and school boards developing new policies at the local level, the many layers of privacy law and policy can leave stakeholders in a state of confusion. As such, adequately communicating student data privacy policy and practice has been a challenge.

In a recent Future Ready Webinar, I had the privilege of being joined by Jaryn Emhof, Vice President of Communications at the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd), as she shared research-based messages and tactics to effectively communicate with parents and other stakeholders about this important issue facing school districts today.

Ms. Emhof outlined a variety of key messages and resources found inside ExcelinEd’s recently released Student Data Privacy Communications Toolkit. Some examples of what was shared in the webinar were:

  • qualitative and quantitative research findings;
  • key messages identified as most compelling and of interest to parents;
  • sample letters and language that can be used by school leaders; and
  • methods, tools, sample letters, and other resources available to assist schools and school districts with communication.

As student data privacy debates continue at all levels, districts must clearly communicate the data they’re collecting, how it’s being used, and how student information remains secure. It’s imperative that district leaders stay on top of changes in the law and work closely with their local school board to ensure a robust policy that empowers teachers with the digital tools needed to personalize student learning, yet simultaneously keeps student information safe and secure. The toolkit released by ExcelinED and the work of DQC is a great starting point for district leaders.

All for the kids we serve,
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Thomas C. Murray
Director of Innovation
Future Ready Schools

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