W/A speaks wtih Amelia Vance with the National Association of State Boards of Education on the latest in student data privacy.„Ι Read more

Student privacy continues to be a hot topic in Congress, and Amelia Vance with the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) has been all over the issue. She created a superb overview of the federal education data privacy law and related bills, which you can view here, and she will be busy keeping it up to date.

One recent bill to follow is the Student Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 3157), introduced by Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) on July 22. „ΙThe bill is an effort to update student privacy protections under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). In brief, the bill:

  • Prohibits marketing or advertising to students using information gathered from the education record;
  • Includes requirements on data security; requires vendors to list all third-party subcontractors and not share data with any other third parties;
  • Allows vendors to use personally identifiable information (PII) to improve current products and services but not make new ones; and
  • Creates financial penalties for districts not complying.

Read more about it here.

We spoke with Amelia to get her thoughts on the bill. You can (and should) follow her on Twitter here.

David: Should school administrators care about this privacy bill?

Amelia: Absolutely. Many of the decisions that we make, whether you are a teacher, an administrator, or a federal education program director, are based on data. They are based on, hopefully, reliable data that is timely and that continuously helps improve the education that we deliver to our students. We are moving to a point where our technology allows us to turn this information around quickly so that it can inform whether a student has understood a daily lesson or, from an administrative perspective, whether programs are on track and the finances are transparent. The decisions that we make are increasingly based on data. They are available for almost everything that happens in and around our schools, at the federal, state and local levels.

So when we are talking about data privacy, we are talking about legislation that will directly affect your everyday professional life – if not today, then in the near future. It is also one of the few bipartisan issues out there that has a good chance of passage. The only way to make sure that what passes is actually good is for school administrators is to stay engaged, to speak to your representatives, and help them to understand how to do this correctly.

David: Does this relate to program compliance as well?

Amelia: Of course. This has everything to do with program performance and compliance. These data are the evidence for evidence-based program measures, which we all know is becoming more critical for program oversight.

David: What is the outlook for this bill?

Amelia: They were trying to get it marked up before the August recess, but that has been delayed to get more feedback on the bill. It has a very good chance of passing the House before the fall, so it is important that people get educated about it now.„Ι