What Teachers Need to Know About the New Student Data Privacy Law
November 8, 2016
A law protecting student data privacy went into effect October 1, and Connecticut districts are required to make sure they're in compliance.
The public act that passed the Connecticut General Assembly last spring protects classroom data by restricting how student information may be collected and used by certain websites, apps, and board of education contractors that handle student data.
The implementation of this act addresses the over-collection and potential misuse of student, teacher, and classroom-level data. In many cases, this work will ultimately save money by reducing duplicative purchases of technological tools—however coming into compliance is a challenge for districts right now and will continue to be until these tools are all inventoried and their terms of service vetted.
Teachers should check with their department chairs or building administrators to find out what steps their districts have put in place to securely use technology tools available to students.
As a best practice, districts should collect the names of online programs and apps being used by staff and then produce, post, and communicate a list of vetted apps and services. Some districts are already doing this to provide parents with information and teachers with peace of mind and access to new tools.
Districts should check to be sure that the terms of service and any signed contracts include the protections required by the new law. For a list of what is required, see the Public Act or a summary of the Act from the Office of Legislative Research.
The state is working directly with larger service and app providers, including Google and Microsoft, to develop a statewide template contract for all districts—and will subsequently work to develop similar templates with smaller providers.
As districts inventory and review contracts and terms of service, it will become clearer which apps and services are in compliance with the new law. Companies that want to continue to have their apps and services used by schools in Connecticut will simply have to come into compliance.
For more information check out:
A Student Data Privacy Toolkit from the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology
This document offers definitions and general best-practice guidelines as well as communication templates, tools to check compliance, and other resources to help school leaders. It is updated frequently with new resources and findings.
Operationalizing Public Act 189: Insights, Best Practices, and Tools for Connecticut Schools
A presentation by the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology delivered at the state data privacy forum on September 8.