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!
2016 State Legislative Action-- Home Stretch!
The home stretch of 2016 state legislative action includes new student privacy laws in Connecticut and Colorado. As of October 1, 2016, under Public Act 16-189 (“An Act Concerning Student Privacy”), Connecticut schools will be required to adhere to “new standards for contracts between a board [of education] and a contractor” that involve the handling of student data, including content produced by students. Some of the new standards include statements of FERPA compliance by both parties and assurance of “security and confidentiality” of student data by the contractor. The Act includes notice provisions, including that affected students must be informed of the new contract within 5 days of the contract being executed and notified within 48 hours if there has been a security breach.
In Colorado, House Bill 1423 (“Student Data Transparency and Security Act”) has been signed into law. This Act aims to balance the “imperative that information that identifies individual students and their families is vigilantly protected from misappropriation or misuse” with the legislative finding that “there are many positive ways in which a student’s personally identifiable information may be used . . . to positively impact the educational and career outcomes that the student achieves.” House Bill 1423 had unanimously passed both houses of the state legislature earlier this spring; a sponsor of the Bill explained that the Bill was intended to “‘heal’” an existing “lack of trust between parents and school officials on the issue” of “student data privacy.” New measures include those that will “increase transparency by requiring the state to disclose which data is collected and how it is used.”
For a deep-dive into 2016 state legislative action in the student privacy space through May 2016, check out NASBE’s analysis here.
Happenings: A recent study found that suspensions and expulsions at public and charter schools in DC have been declining since schools began releasing comprehensive discipline statistics several years ago. Data Quality Campaign released a guide for federal policymakers on how to “make data work for students.” In the higher ed space, researchers convened earlier in June for “Asilomar II: Student Data and Records in the Digital Era,” a conference that “made progress toward developing a set of shared standards for ethical use of student data, including how the data should be used to improve higher education.”
LGBTQIA Student Data
The recent tragedy in Orlando has brought renewed national focus to issues of discrimination against the LGBTQIA community. In discussions of student data and equity, LGBTQIA students are often left out of the equation. Yet not many studies address LGBTQIA students’ data rights. In 2014 Edweek highlighted the difficulties in obtaining data about the school climate for LGBTQIA. At that time, schools did not include information about sexual orientation in student records. Although the inclusion of this data would allow for a deeper understanding of the issues faced by LGBTQIA students, advocates feared that inclusion of this data could lead to administrators prematurely “outing” students.
There are organizations focusing on making LGBTQIA students visible through education data. Since 1999, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has conducted evaluations (including large-scale teacher/student surveys and observations) of the school climate for LGBTQIA K-12. GLSEN is hosting webinar on June 29 to release new findings on factors that contribute to reduced retention rates for LGBTQ youth in K12 “New Findings on Drop Out, Push Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline among LGBTQ Youth.”
Happenings: The Schott Foundation released an infographic aimed at empowering transgender students, citing data indicating that 80% of trans students feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression. Kate Crawford argues “sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many ‘intelligent’ systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.” Calling attention to the ways in which human bias can result in inequity in well-intentioned platforms, Airbnb has responded to numerous reports of discrimination. Nikole Hannah-Jones chronicles the continued racial segregation of schools in America in her reflections on choosing a school for her daughter. Gene V. Glass, a renowned statistician and researcher in educational psychology has announced that he is no longer comfortable being associated with educational measurement, one reason being the false promise of equity through the use of data. There has been backlash against the use of predictive algorithms in criminal justice, in part, because of the worry that the systems might reproduce systemic inequality, categorizing people as “high risk” based on race. Data shows that for-profit college students are more likely to borrow money to attend school.
OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy: Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity
The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) met on June 21-23 in Cancun, Mexico to discuss “key policies for skills development adapted to the digital economy.” Dialogue focused on four major policy tracks including “digital trust” and “jobs and skills.” Details on discussion around this event can be found using #OECDDigitalMX. According to the 2016 Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy Background Report, due to the current digital landscape, people must constantly update their skill set in order to be able to make meaningful use of new and emerging technologies. Of particular note: “International research shows that participation in ECEC [Early Childhood Education and Care] programmes can have a significant positive impact on educational quality and equity outcomes.” Robust programming in primary and secondary learning environments is crucial as well. For instance, Sweden has implemented policies that make digital literacy as part of educational requirements for primary and lower secondary schools. The United States now has the Computer Science for All Initiative to provide funding to “increase access to K-12 CS by training teachers, expanding access to high-quality instructional materials, and building effective regional partnerships.”
ISTE 2016: New Standards & New Collaborations
ISTE 2016, a major annual ed tech conference & expo convened by the International Society for Technology in Education, is underway from June 26-29 in Denver, Colorado. Events kicked off with an announcement of a new ITSE-Microsoft collaboration “to ensure educators and school leaders around the world have access to school planning and professional development resources.” This collaboration will include “partner[ship] with schools around the world to further develop new Microsoft Showcase Schools, a global community of more than 600 schools engaged in digital transformation to improve learning and teaching.” The ISTE 2016 program will also include content on the new ISTE standards for students, which are designed to be used by educators with any level of ed tech experience and can be incorporated into the curriculum at any grade. The Los Angeles Unified School District is breaking new ground by being the first district in the country to adopt these new standards to integrate technology into the classroom because the standards “support a ‘learner-driven’ approach . . . and provide a blueprint for educators to make sure students are at the center of a shift to technology in the classroom.” More events and announcements can be followed using #ISTE2016.
Happenings: New England College’s annual Summer Institute for Educators is winding up, after offering courses to teachers such as “The Empowerment Classroom: How Student Voice and Partnership Can Improve Engagement, School Attachment, and Learning” and “A Teacher’s Role in Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline.” Amazon has announced a new educational marketplace service for teachers called Amazon Inspire; an application for a beta early access version is now available. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced “curriculum-based virtual reality field trips for Google Expeditions.”