June 01, 2016

6/1: Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy News

Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy Newsletter

Week Two: June 1, 2016

The Youth and Media team at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Data & Society Research Institute are proud to bring you this Student Privacy, Equity, and Digital Literacy newsletter on a bi-weekly basis. If you have suggestions or reflections, please send them our way—thanks for reading!

Student Data Privacy

NASBE Student Privacy State Legislative Recap
The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) Student Privacy State Legislative Recap 2016 webinar was last Thursday. The core issues of the 2016 session included establishing governance related to data privacy, governing third parties and service providers, improving transparency, and considering the role of parental consent and notification. Slides from the webinar will be archived sometime this week here. On top of that NASBE released a policy update this month on trends in student data privacy bills. One trend in new laws is the regulation of third parties to ensure that students get equal privacy protection regardless of whether they can afford their own device or relies on school devices.
An overview of major statistics that can be found in the update include:
  • 38 states have considered 112 new bills on student privacy
  • 73 bills have carried over from the previous session
  • 18 of these have become law as of May 24th
  • Legislation on data privacy governance accounted for 73 of the measures
  • SOPIPA became law in six states
SOPIPA is the Student Online Personal Information Act. Originally passed in California, SOPIPA  was the first law to address student privacy and went into effect January 1, 2016. This law puts the responsibility for protecting student data on the industry and prohibits education technology service providers from selling student data.
Happenings: The Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely released the Educator’s Guide to Student Data Privacy, which is a free guide that gives advice to teachers on how to keep student information private. The guide covers information such as what exactly student data is, good practice for using and vetting apps in the classroom, and further educational resources.  Learning to be Watched: Surveillance Culture at School examines the role of advertising in schools and provides an overview of relevant legislative actions.

Data & Equity

Office for Civil Rights Enforcement Activities 
The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released a report detailing OCR’s enforcement activities that were aimed towards protecting students’ civil rights in 2015. The OCR administers the Civil Rights Data Collection initiative that includes 97,000 U.S. public schools and 49 million students. Edweek created visual representations of the civil rights complaints detailed in the OCR report, highlighting that black students have three times the expulsion and suspension rate of white students and that of high schools with high concentrations of black and Hispanic students, 1 in 4 do not offer second-year algebra courses.
Rep. Jackie Speier introduced a bill that would require purchasers of prepaid cell phones to present identification showing their name, address, & date of birth on March 16, 2016. Color of Change has circulated a petition against the passing of this bill, claiming that it is likely to have disparate impact on low-income and Black communities. Color of Change believes that the laws rely on “heightened standards of identification that overwhelmingly target and marginalize Black communities.”  This bill has potential consequences for low income students’ access. A 2015 Common Sense Media report revealed that only 54% of teens in lower-income families have a laptop at home, as opposed to 92% of teens in higher-income families. The researchers found that in low income households without regular computer or Internet access, some teenagers used smartphones to complete their online homework assignments. The Alliance for Excellent Education held a webinar on May 6, 2016 discussing district strategies for achieving digital equity emphasizing the role of out of school broadband access. During the webinar Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), noted that the vast majority of schools are not thinking about digital equity.
Happenings. The Washington Post published an article critiquing the use of big data to narrow the achievement gap. The article cites findings from PISA data in 2012: “the highest performing education systems are those that combine quality with equity.” Stanford researchers released the first of an ongoing series of studies that highlight disturbing, growing trends in racial achievement gaps. The White House released a report on big data, algorithmic systems, opportunity, and civil rights that raises concerns about discrimination in higher education admissions. The Schott Foundation released a series of infographics focusing on the barriers facing Black girls in US public schools, including higher rates of exposure sexual harassment and violence. ProPublica examined risk scores in criminal justice, calling attention to the potential for racial machine bias in predictive analytics, which, when presented with black and white inmates convicted of the same crime, will designate the black inmate as a higher risk for future crimes. The annual Condition of Education report shows that poverty disadvantages students starting in kindergarten; however, a positive relationship was reported between learning approaches and academic gains, and these are particularly strong for low-income students.

Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy Skills of Preadolescents
To follow-up last week where we saw what teenagers were doing in their spare time online, a study, What Are Preadolescent Readers Doing Online?, found that students in fourth and fifth grade are “moderately skilled at navigating, reading, and writing online.” However, when the data was broken down by gender, it was found that girls actually performed better with an average score of 14.43 out of a possible 27 than boys (12.69). Hutchinson, in an interview, stated that it is not known why girls tested better than boys, but that it might have to do with correlations between girls having strong print-based literacy skills. Despite testing better, girls still ranked as having lower confidence in their digital abilities in comparison to boys. This study also reports that students spend more time on their digital devices in the classroom than at home, and that the majority of that time is spent consuming online information as opposed to creating it.
Happenings: This last week saw some international digital literacy programs take steps forward. Intel Corporation announced a collaboration with Joyful Women Organization (JOYWO) to train over 1 million Kenyan women in digital literacy by 2020. The hope is that the training provided will teach women both Internet safety practices and applicable uses of technology in their day-to-day lives. In India “Internet Saathi,” a joint program between Google India and Tata Trust, announced that they plan to expand their program into West Bengal, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Tripura. The program’s goal is to provide digital literacy training to women in India, specifically in more rural areas.