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In This Issue
Student data privacy issues continue to take center stage in schools and policy arenas across the country—with the central debate being the need to balance the benefits of using data to drive innovation with the responsibility to protect students. This dichotomy was recently explored during the National Student Privacy Symposium, which convened education leaders, privacy and security professionals, advocacy groups, parents, and lawmakers to discuss a range of student data and privacy issues. During the symposium—hosted by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Data Quality Campaign—participants hashed out the challenges and opportunities in using data for personalized learning, parental engagement, and education research. Read conversations from the event on Twitter using #nsps2015.
The symposium featured the release of poll results showing that the vast majority of parents express comfort with schools using student data to improve learning, teaching, and attendance records. Concern, however, increases when parents respond to questions about schools sharing that data with companies that create educational software or apps. And parents are particularly worried that colleges or employers could use their children’s information against them when making enrollment or hiring decisions.
Symposium participants also discussed the overarching need for trust and communication among schools gathering, using, and sharing data; companies employing data for research and other purposes; and parents who have the right to know what data is being collected—it’s more than test results—and how it is being used.
To protect student data, Congress has begun to focus on updating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act—better known as FERPA—and to ensure student data is not used for marketing purposes. Although members of both chambers’ education subcommittees have held hearings, neither chamber will complete work on student data privacy legislation this year.
To explore these concerns, ASCD has released “Locking the Cloud: Student Data Collection and Privacy Safeguards,” the latest issue of Policy Priorities. The issue explains how data can benefit individualized learning, details parents’ concerns regarding their children’s data, and compares current principles and policies governing student data.
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Four principals have accepted positions with the U.S Department of Education as principal ambassador fellows for the 2015–16 school year. Now in its second year, the program enables principals to connect with policymakers and contribute their expertise on policies and programs intending to inform administration initiatives and improve education at all levels. One of the new ambassadors—Alicia Pérez-Katz—will serve as a full-time Washington, D.C., fellow, while three will work part-time in D.C. in addition to maintaining leadership roles in their districts.
The 2015–16 principal ambassadors fellows are
• Alicia Pérez-Katz, principal of Baruch College Campus High School in New York City.
• Joseph Manko, principal of Liberty Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland.
• Jessica Nauoikas, founder and principal of Mott Haven Academy Charter School in New York City.
• Christopher Pearson, superintendent of Conway School District in Mt. Vernon, Washington.
The 8-year-old Teacher Ambassador Fellowship program—which served as the model for the Principal Ambassador Fellowship Program—recently named its newest class. Teacher ambassador fellows play a crucial role in policy conversations both locally and at the department and have been the driving force behind the department’s Teach to Lead Initiative.
President Barack Obama joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for a stop on the sixth annual Back-to-School Bus Tour to discuss higher education opportunities with high school students and their families. The event highlighted the newly released College Scorecard, a consumer-facing tool—replacing the administration’s proposed college rating system—that aims to provide prospective students with the information they need to choose among higher education institutions. The president also announced a new initiative that will allow students to better prepare, financially, for college by applying for financial aid in early October instead of waiting until January.
SHAPE America—the Society of Health and Physical Educators—has unveiled a Back-to-School website with resources for teachers, administrators, and parents to help ensure that all students have the skills, knowledge, and opportunities to enjoy healthy and meaningful physical activity. Tips for teachers include communicating their passion for physical activity, evaluating current programs and instruction in physical education (PE), and educating themselves on lifelong healthy practices. The resource encourages administrators to support physical activity among students by establishing and adopting healthy policies, standards, and guidelines; evaluating and elevating existing PE programs; and transforming school attitudes about health with active staff and initiatives.
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