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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Toolkit helps districts safeguard student privacy
March 15, 2021
The Future of Privacy Forum has developed a new toolkit to help districts and schools ensure strong student privacy practices, which have become even more important during COVID-19 and the shift to online learning.
“Student Privacy Communications Toolkit: For Schools and Districts” is designed to help school and district leaders communicate with educators, parents, and students about student privacy policies and their efforts to ethically and equitably handle student data.
“While some schools and districts have well-established student privacy programs and policies with dedicated staff and resources, others are just beginning their student privacy journeys,” according to an introduction to the toolkit. “Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, this toolkit is intended to be adapted based on the needs or circumstances of an individual school or district.”
The toolkit, which is also available in Spanish, contains a primer on student data, including different types (aggregate, personally identifiable information, etc.), how it is collected, who uses it and why. There is also information on the potential risks of not properly protecting this data.
In order to build trust among stakeholders, the toolkit also outlines how to create a clear and confident communications strategy for student privacy that will address stakeholders’ concerns. It also includes talking points for specific audiences — parents, educators and students — and template letters and text messages that can be adapted for use in schools or districts.
Other highlights include a checklist for evaluating privacy concerns in ed tech tools, how to communicate student data being used to track student attendance and engagement during online learning, and tips on creating an easy-to-navigate student privacy website.
“The shift to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the prevalence of student data collection, use, sharing, and maintenance, and the need to adopt ethical and equitable practices to properly safeguard student privacy,” according to the toolkit authors. “We hope you will use this toolkit to better understand the value of student data, inform privacy practices in an educational setting, raise awareness of the risks and challenges that come with increased data collection, take steps to help safeguard student information, and create a culture of privacy in your schools and districts.”