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5 Things Every Parent Needs To Know About Student Data Privacy

Every parent wants to protect their child—it’s human nature. But it’s getting harder to do in the digital age. 

Now you have to look out for physical and cyber threats. And the risk isn’t just at home, it’s at school.

Schools are getting more and more tech-savvy. And the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated this trend by forcing many students to do school from home.

That meant learning remotely via laptops and video conferencing software like Zoom.

But online educational technology collects data on its users just like most internet applications do, which leads to a major question: How is this data being used? 

Data privacy concerns aren’t new. But with how much more data on students is being stored these days, parents need to educate themselves on what’s going on.

5 Things Every Parent Needs To Know About Student Data Privacy

So here are 5 things every parent should know about student data: 

1. Schools collect a lot of data on students.

Even before the internet was widely used in schools, they would record information on students’ academic performance, attendance, health, behavior, career goals, and more. 

Not to mention basic directory information like names, birthplace and date, attendance dates, awards, and so on. 

Now that school recordkeeping is done with software, you need to know that a lot of this information is stored online. 

2. You have the right to access your childs’ data.

Per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) enacted in 1974, you have the right to access any student data on your child. This includes the right to:

  • Review records
  • File complaints
  • Correct or delete inaccuracies

This applies to all public and private schools that receive any federal funding. So contact the school if you are concerned in any way about what’s on record. 

Once your child turns 18, they will have exclusive rights to all their student data as well.

3. Others have access to some of your child’s data.

Some of your child’s student data is available to educators, staff, other schools, and service providers so that they can do their jobs. 

In fact, most schools work with third-party companies that provide teaching technology, both hardware and software.

Though the school maintains control of student data, they give vendors access to data for approved educational purposes or to improve their own programs.

To help prevent your child’s data from being misused or getting in the wrong hands, insist that your school has a strong data protection infrastructure in place. 

4. You can opt out of having your child’s data shared publicly.

By default, many schools share directory information with the public. This is information you’d find in a yearbook like names, attendance dates, awards, and such.

But it could also include addresses, photos, grade levels, and sport and club participation. 

Schools are required to inform parents what is considered directory data, so you should already know. But if not, contact the school to find out. And if you aren’t comfortable having it shared, opt out.

5 Things Every Parent Needs To Know About Student Data Privacy

5. Student data can improve your child’s learning experience.

Despite all the risks that come with storing student data online, it also serves a good purpose. It allows for more personalized educational programs.

For example, students and teachers can automatically track learning progress in ways that were never possible in the past.

They can also keep a detailed historical record of their entire school career.

Final thoughts

However concerned you are about data privacy, you have the power to have your child’s data treated the way you would like.

Every parent should at least know the data protection policies that their child’s school has.

That way, they know what to expect.

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