Time to make student data privacy a priority

Time to make student data privacy a prioritySchool data breaches do not get the publicity of Sony’s hacked emails about Angelina Jolie ‘s acting talent or how Jennifer Lawrence’s pay compares to that of her less well-known male costars.

But they are equally embarrassing and compromising in the local community.

Last month, Tewksbury, Massachusetts Public Schools accidentally released private information about 83 special education students and ratings of their parents’ “cooperativeness.” The district rated parents on a scale of 1-3 for internal use. Somehow, this confidential data was released, creating a community-wide uproar.

A few years ago, a high school in one of Long Island’s largest districts, had to inform parents of the release of the names of 15,000 students with school ID numbers and lunch designations. A high school student was later arrested for the hacking incident.

According to a new survey by Washington, D.C.-based Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), nearly 57% of school district technology leaders say they are more worried than they were last year about the privacy and security of student data.

Parents and legislators are more worried than ever, too. More than 160 student data privacy bills were introduced in 42 U.S. states in the first 3 months of 2015—nearly 50% more than were introduced in 2014.

One reason the risk has increased is that educators simply have become more sophisticated and heavier users of technology. This means that schools now have increased exposure to hacking risks and unfortunate accidents. A school becomes a potential target for unauthorized data sharing of confidential information every time a teacher downloads a new education app. Another reason for the increased risk is that data has become highly valuable for marketing and other purposes

Here’s what you need to do now as an education leader to protect student data.

First, become more informed about the problem and the risks, about current and proposed legal requirements. Educate your staff about the problem and risks and get them involved in protecting your student data. Establish data security protections and protocols. Make security a priority.

Once your biggest technology problems were getting your teachers and staff to embrace computers, email and the computerization of all your key operations. They have.

With your success comes the new challenge of protecting student data privacy so your use of educational technology can continue, uninterrupted, on its exciting course.
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Webinar: “Game On: Steps to Take Now to Protect Student Data Privacy” more info…

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