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Protecting Student Data – Technology & Policy

October 2, 2015

Student Computers

One of the topics related to the technology focus of the November 3rdProtect Our Future” bond proposal is the need to address – in systemic ways – how student data is protected and managed.  There are few aspects of the school system that are more critical to consider than the matter of safely securing and managing student data.  First, educators value high-quality educational data. It is essential when striving to improve student achievement through instructional or pedagogical changes. Second, data can empower administrators, teachers, parents, and students with the information needed to make effective decisions that can benefit all learners.  So, how do we ensure that the data is secure and managed as effectively as possible?

First, we need to make sure that the infrastructure, hardware and firewall systems are up to date. Robust hardware, up to date software, and effective network architecture are all necessary to safeguard, access and use the student data.  Realistically, this is an expensive proposition.  These safety upgrades are prudent and necessary moving into an increasingly more technologically based society. Hence, there is the obligation to ask voters to consider these upgrades with the November 3 bond proposal.

The second consideration is to streamline internal processes by limiting the data necessary to support and improve student learning.  Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.  We need to ask continually whether these particular data are necessary to aid in the learning process and improve student achievement outcomes.  Whenever possible, aggregate data are used without personally identifying individual students.  This data is valuable when evaluating programs and services.

Student privacy and data security matters are ongoing concerns within the educational system.   Diligence in the selection of robust hardware, software, and network efficacy aid in structural protection. Consistent, undeviating review of policy, practice and training reduces human error. Having the necessary resources to implement this two-pronged approach to safeguarding student data is necessary in the Saline Area Schools. Remember to vote on the November 3 “Protect Our Future” bond proposal.

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