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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Student Privacy In the Age of Data Collection

From Smart Kids with LD

November 11, 2013

In the past decade, technology has made it easier for school systems to collect and store large amounts of student data, including potentially sensitive information about learning disabilities and classroom behaviors.

The practice is raising concerns among some who suggest student privacy may be at risk.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Mass. Senator Edward J. Markey voiced misgivings about the increasing use of outside vendors to manage student data:


“By collecting detailed personal information about students’ test results and learning abilities, educators may find better ways to educate their students. However, putting the sensitive information of students in private hands raises a number of important questions about the privacy rights of parents and their children.”

A recent blog post on The New York Times web site detailed the content of Senator Markey’s letter to Secretary Duncan asking for clarification of the Department of Education’s position on this matter:

"In his letter, Senator Markey asked Mr. Duncan to explain whether the Department of Education had assessed the types of student information schools share with private companies; whether the department had issued federal standards or guidelines that outline the steps schools should take to protect student data stored and used by private companies; what kinds of security measures the department requires companies to put in place to safeguard student data; and whether federal administrators believe that parents, not schools, should have the right to control information about their children even if it is housed by private companies."

Senator Markey speaks for a growing number of parents concerned about how the data will be used and who will have access to it—particularly whether the information will be sold or distributed to other companies without their permission.


As the Senator concluded, “Such loss of parental control over their child’s educational records and performance information could have longstanding consequences for the future prospects of students.”

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