Three state approaches to student data privacy

The task force will evaluate data storage, security, and sharing practices at district and state levels and will recommend updated standards and practices accordingly.

Balancing data privacy with the ability to put student data to good use and improve instruction is key, Boffy noted.

“It’s one thing to have data; it’s another to have data that informs the decisions of your educators,” Boffy said. “We don’t want teachers spending more time integrating data than they do teaching.”

Parental concerns over student privacy helped drive the passage of the Oklahoma Student Data Accessibility, Transparency, and Accountability Act of 2013, said John Kraman, executive director of Student Information in the Oklahoma State Department of Education (SDE).

The SDE worked with Oklahoma legislators to address voters’ concerns about student privacy, and the bill passed with almost no opposition.

The bill establishes new procedures and privacy practices for student data collection and use.

While new privacy practices will be put into place, the bill also emphasizes transparency and gives stakeholders information on how and why student data is protected.

“It’s important that we have transparency and oversight, but also flexibility—we don’t know today what we might want tomorrow,” and it’s important that the bill is flexible enough to change to suit educators’ and policy makers’ needs, Kraman said.

Lawmakers’ and educators’ efforts to craft legislation that is both protective and flexible speaks to the larger issue of “balancing privacy concerns and parental rights with empowering the people who are in our schools teaching our kids,” Kraman noted.

Laura Ascione

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