By Moriah Costa / September 22, 2015
<STUDENT DATA: A new survey from the Future of Privacy Forum found that the majority of parents are okay with data collection, if it helps their kids learn.
The majority of parents are okay with data collection, as long as it helps their kids succeed in the classroom, a survey from the Future of Privacy Forum found.
According to the survey, the vast majority of parents support using data for things like grades, attendance records, special needs status and standardized test scores.
About 71 percent of parents surveyed said their child uses technology at school, while 76 percent of parents said they know what data is being collected and how it is being used. But more than half of parents said they didn’t about existing federal laws that regulate student privacy.
“This survey makes it clear that we must do a better job of explaining to parents how their children benefit from improving the effectiveness of education products based on things learned in the classroom,” said Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future of Privacy Forum.
Around 42 percent of parents said they were not as comfortable with schools sharing data with private companies that create educational technology. But if parents believe that technology will directly benefit their kids, they are more likely to support it, with 57 percent of parents saying they support companies using data to improve products.
At the same time, about 87 percent of parents are worried about student data being hacked or stolen.
The findings were released in conjunction with the organization’s National Student Privacy Symposium on Monday. It was conducted because of the lack of parent views on privacy.
Student data collection and privacy has drawn national attention in recent months, with eight student privacy bills introduced in Congress last session and numerous bills introduced or passed on the state level.
Among the chief concerns is who has access to that data and what is being done with it. Student privacy advocates argue that there isn’t enough transparency about what is done with that information. Others argue that student data is necessary for teachers and parents to track student progress. All agree that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, originally passed in 1974 to protect student privacy, wasn’t designed for a digital age and should be updated.