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Safeguarding Data to Ensure Effective Data Use. Paige Kowalski |Director| State Policy & Advocacy. July 2014. The Value of Data. @ EdDataCampaign. # eddata. Why Data Matters to Everyone with a Stake in Education. @ EdDataCampaign. # eddata. The Privacy Conversation. @ EdDataCampaign.

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safeguarding data to ensure effective data use

Safeguarding Data to Ensure Effective Data Use

Paige Kowalski |Director| State Policy & Advocacy

July 2014


The Value of Data




The Privacy Conversation




Landscape of Privacy Concerns

  • School-reported student data
  • The scope and type of student data schools collect and the privacy of those data
  • Who is collecting and accessing student data/education records
  • The role of 3rd party service providers
  • The role of the Assessment Consortia
  • Self-reported student data
  • Protections and use of data collected when teachers and schools use free cloud based tools
  • Protections and use of data collected through school-sanctioned social networking or communication tools




Education Data Collection




An Evolution: Collecting, Storing, & Securing Student Data


Back in the Day


Image Source: Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education



data collection through student use of technology
Data Collection Through Student Use of Technology

Online Learning Tools (e.g., Edmodo)

  • Students provide basic information (name and username).
  • Student use generates information (e.g., the page requested and other details of activity) needed to tailor and improve services and better personalize learning for the student.

One Size Fits All Services (e.g., Google)

  • Users provide basic information (name, email address, phone number).
  • Useuse generates information (e.g., local storage data and cookies) needed to tailor content, develop and improve services, and combine personal information collected from other services.

Not All Student Data Are Created Equal

Data collected by districts

Data collected by vendors through online services

State policymakers need to govern all types of data, but differently.




Addressing Privacy Concerns



did you know that ferpa
Did You Know That FERPA…
  • Celebrates it’s 40th birthday this year?
  • Was amended in 2013 to allow foster care case workers access to education records?
  • Was most recently clarified in 2008 and 2011?
  • Was strengthened in 2011 with the addition of the Privacy Technical Assistance Center and a Chief Privacy Officer?
  • Only protects PII?
  • Does not address data security?
  • Only covers education records in agencies receiving federal funds?
  • Is just one of several federal privacy bills addressing student data?
next steps for federal action unclear
Next Steps for Federal Action? Unclear

Congress held a hearing on student data privacy and heard these recommendations from three of their panelists:

  • Say yes to privacy and student data.
  • Have teachers sign confidentiality agreements specifying what student data they can share with whom. 
  • Conduct a yearly state audit in school districts to see who knows where the data is, who has access to it, what security measures are in place and whether it\'s safe.
  • Minimize the data that\'s collected and do not collect Social Security numbers.
  • Encrypt the data that is stored and transferred.
  • Hire chief privacy officers at the state level to help school districts through issues. 
  • Update FERPA legislation because it leaves major holes in student data privacy.
  • Do not update FERPA legislation because it adequately protects student data as written with additional guidance from the U.S. Education Department, and new legislation poses the risk of stifling innovation.
  • Pass federal student privacy legislation.
  • Require vendors to keep data secure and private.
  • Review contracts with district solicitors.

Panelists: Alliance for Excellent Education, Fordham University School of Law, Software and Information Industry Association 

activity in the states 2013
Activity in the States: 2013


bill passed related to student data privacy in

1 state



activity in the states 2014
Activity in the States: 2014


  • bills related to student data privacy in




the state role
The State Role
  • Provide transparency to ensure parents understand the “who, what, where, how” of data collection/use
  • Deliver services to demonstrate the value of data: trust is based on relationship and services are the key (e.g., student data backpacks)
  • Shift the culture around data use by communicating that data is used for continuous improvement; not just accountability/compliance
  • Support your districts with resources, model policies, tech assistance, guidance, training
  • Establish 21st century privacy/security policies that don’t unnecessarily prohibit data from being used in support of student achievement.







contact information
Contact Information

Paige Kowalski

Director, State Policy and Advocacy

[email protected]