For Immediate Release: February 13, 2018
Contact: Renee Rybak Lang, renee.lang@nasbe.org, 703-740-4841

 NASBE Report: Wise Student Data Privacy Policies Bolster Personalized Learning

Alexandria, VA – A new NASBE report argues that good student data privacy policies recognize the potential for personalized learning to accelerate student achievement while also guaranteeing safe, secure access to a predetermined, transparent set of student data. To advance personalized learning, state policymakers need to develop laws and policies that avoid key pitfalls that can hamper the efficient, effective use of data by school leaders, teachers, parents, and students.

In “Advancing Personalized Learning through Effective Use and Protection of Student Data,” William Tucker and NASBE’s Don Long explore the growth and potential of personalized learning, on the one hand, and the tension between data access and protection, on the other. Personalized learning depends increasingly on digital technology to deliver instruction and gather and store data that provides teachers crucial feedback to accelerate student learning. Use of these technologies has intensified concerns about commercial influence in education generally and about third-party access and misuse of data in particular.

Tucker and Long detail how states like Louisiana, Kansas, and California have created policies to address privacy concerns without hamstringing beneficial uses of data in the classroom. For example, Louisiana pairs restrictions on biometric records with an opt-in policy for parents and students. Kansas clearly defines biometric information and also provides an opt-out for parents and students. California’s laws require strict compliance for third-party vendors and regulate access to personally identifiable information while affirming the desirability of personalized learning.  

Other states have swung too far in the other direction, say the authors. Florida and New Hampshire’s privacy laws effectively “close the door” on personalized learning. In both cases, biometric data restrictions could be read as prohibiting useful data collection for personalized learning.

“Legislation that stymies personalized learning programs takes choice away from parents and students regarding their learning opportunities,” write Tucker and Long. “Laws that take a more measured approach let schools track information with the proper consent of students and parents and thereby give space for personalization to schools, districts, and organizations working with them.”

The authors recommend actions state boards can take to foster personalized learning and data protection:

  • share stories of schools using data to advance student success in their states;
  • promote transparency about what student information is being collected and how it is used;
  • ensure that data access and privacy policies keep up with changes in technology; and
  • convene stakeholders to collaborate on best practices in personalized learning.

Read the NASBE report, “Advancing Personalized Learning through Effective Use and Protection of Student Data.”

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.

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