School districts across the country have embraced student data use as a means for enhancing school operations and classroom instruction. While the practice of collecting student data is not new – K-12 schools and institutions of higher education have been gathering and reporting test scores, grades, retention records, and the like for decades – the means by which student information is collected, the types of information collected, and the entities that ultimately have access to this data have expanded dramatically. At the same time, the poor data security practices in many schools and subsequent lapses in student privacy demonstrate troubling side effects of irresponsible data use.
CDT believes that realizing the full potential of education technology requires robust student privacy standards. In addition to strict legal compliance, including with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the 100+ state-level student privacy laws that supplement it, protecting student data and using it responsibly requires clear data governance frameworks, well-trained school staff, proactive community engagement, and discerning relationships with education technology vendors. CDT helps education practitioners achieve these goals by providing strategic policy advocacy and actionable guidance resources.