In “Regulating Student Data Privacy,” NASBE Director of Education Data and Technology Amelia Vance explains why concerns over student data privacy have dominated the headlines, and what states—and state boards of education in particular—are doing to ensure the safety of student data.Vance argues that strong data privacy policies strike a balance between the need for timely, accurate information and safeguarding student privacy. She cites West Virginia and Alabama as leaders in setting strong policies around data privacy. “Both state boards of education have passed resolutions expressing their commitment to student data privacy and provide full guidance to districts,” says Vance. Other states, such as New York, Virginia, and California, have also adopted key policies, such as appointing a chief privacy officer and ensuring educator training in data protection.
But Vance also warns against writing privacy policies that leave too much to interpretation, or alternatively, are overly prescriptive. Both scenarios can result in unintended consequences. “It is essential that states do not inadvertently ban technologies that can help children succeed and compete in today’s global economy,” writes Vance. “By passing informed, comprehensive policies crafted with the input of all stakeholders, policymakers can harness the power of data for enabling student success while also protecting privacy.”