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ERIC Number: ED558607
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Apr
Pages: 49
Abstractor: ERIC
On the Block: Student Data and Privacy in the Digital Age--The Seventheenth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends, 2013-2014
Molnar, Alex; Boninger, Faith
National Education Policy Center
Computer technology has made it possible to aggregate, collate, analyze, and store massive amounts of information about students. School districts and private companies that sell their services to the education market now regularly collect such information, raising significant issues about the privacy rights of students. Most school districts lack the resources to manage all of the student data that federal and state laws now require that they collect and report. As a result, they are likely to hire private vendors to identify, collect, manage, and analyze student data. This has opened up opportunities for private vendors to access student information and to share it with others. Further, the computerization of student work offers opportunities for companies that provide education technology and educational applications to obtain and pass on to third parties information about students. Which information may be appropriately collected, who has a right to see it, how long the information may be held, and how errors and inaccuracies are to be corrected have become critical policy issues. Important in this mix is that student information, even information in the form of "anonymized" meta-data (or massive amounts of data reported without linking specific information and individuals), is valuable to marketers interested in selling products and services to students and their families. Because of these critical concerns, this year's report on school commercializing trends reviews the policy landscape related to student data and assesses the dangers associated with the dearth of policies to protect students and their families from third parties who wish to profit from access to information collected through schools. As legislators develop statutory language and district leaders develop their contracting policies, the authors recommend that they review the comprehensive guidelines detailed in the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Student Privacy Bill of Rights. The authors also recommend that policymakers develop policies that encompass not only the privacy of student educational records but also the wide variety of student data (including anonymized data that may now be collected and shared). These policies should explicitly address the potential commercial use of any data collected. Finally, the authors recommend that the burden of protecting student data be placed not only on schools and districts but also on any private vendors with access to student data. This would align the interests of all parties, public and private, in protecting student privacy. An appendix contains: State Laws Addressing Student Data Privacy (2011-2014): Synopses of Major Provisions, Noting Significant Gaps in Protection, Exclusions and Omissions. (This report contains a list of 103 notes and references.)
National Education Policy Center. School of Education 249 UCB University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309. Tel: 303-735-5290; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Consumers Union
Authoring Institution: Arizona State University, Commercialism in Education Research Unit; University of Colorado at Boulder, National Education Policy Center
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act 1974