nies and agencies under seemingly “ safe ” conditions . Many schools share data with grant organizations as part of a contract . In exchange for funding a program measuring student achievement , or perhaps assessing the need for community health care , schools often share data with the funding organization . Do these schools know all the ways this data is to be used ? Even if the data use is legitimate , do you know how these organizations store , safeguard and eventually dispose of this data ?
How can we begin to protect our students ’ data ?
The first step is to review or create a student data security plan . This involves reviewing available board policies , creating or enforcing a vetting process for all purchases of school systems which collect any level of student data , creating or enforcing data security practices , and to put adequate professional development in place so all key staff are aware of this issue and how to comply with established policies and guidelines .
This professional development should include overview introductions to applicable laws such as the FERPA , the Children ’ s Online Privacy Protection Act , the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment , and more , depending upon your location .
What resources are available to help our schools or districts with this issue ?
If your school administration does not have information or training available on this topic , there are sites that can help you locate your particular state ’ s law , and provide overall information on these questions .
If you Google the FERPA website you will find easy access to materials and resources to help guide responsible uses of student ’ s data .
Additionally , studentprivacypledge . org provides a list of twelve commitments K-12 schools can use to safeguard student data privacy .
The issue of data security has existed for many years , although many of us in education are only just beginning to fully realize the scope and potential liabilities of the issue .
This is not going to change anytime soon . There is no new technology around the corner that is going to magically resolve this issue for us . We must take responsibility for this data , just as we take responsibility for all the other levels of protection we provide our students while they are in our care .
There is help available . The resources and information provided in this article can get you started . And as always , your membership in ACSA is a strong benefit as well . Reach out to our Member Services staff and they will be happy to help find specific answers to questions you may have .
Tony Baldwin ( tbaldwin @ acsa . org ) is the Director of Information Technology for the Association of California School Administrators . Prior to joining ACSA , Tony consulted with several school districts in California . He also served as the Director of Technology Services for Anderson Union High School District after serving in the same position for Cascade Union Elementary School District .