A Parents’ Guide to Student Data Privacy

privacy-header-cropStudents are online now more than ever, both academically and socially, allowing students to learn about virtually any subject and connectwith people and places around the world. Teachers are also using technology to enhance instruction to meet the needs of every child while also making curriculum more engaging.

However, as recent headlines remind us, online activity comes with a risk to personal privacy. Over the last year, National PTA has become involved with identifying best practices for safeguarding and managing student data and ensuring parents have appropriate notification and consent as to what and how children’s data is collected and used. As part of this effort, National PTA has partnered with the Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely to develop a free digital guide to help parents understand the laws that protect student data as well as students’ and parents’ rights under these laws.

The guide answers such questions as:

  • Who has access to personal information about my child?
  • What is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and when does it apply to information from students?
  • When do I have the choice to “opt-out” of my child’s information being shared?
  • How do I gain access, make corrections, or request deletions to my child’s data?

Schools have always held a wide range of data about children and families. Name, address, names of parents or guardians, date of birth, grades, attendance, disciplinary records, special needs, eligibility for lunch programs, and similar information are all necessary for basic administration and instruction. Teachers and school officials use this information for lots of reasons, including to assess how well students at a school are progressing, how effective teachers are at teaching, and how well a school performs compared to other schools. State departments of education also collect and aggregate data to help guide policy decisions and plan budgets. Guaranteeing the effective use of students’ information while keeping this information protected remains paramount.

Find out more by downloading the guide and reading up on the details of privacy rights for students and parents at ferpasherpa.org.