Communicating with Parents and Students
Parents want to know how their child’s data is being collected, used, and protected, but may not have more than 10 minutes to search out answers. There are many resources that can help districts and schools communicate better with parents.
Be Able to Answer Parent Questions
Parents may come to you or their child’s teacher with questions. While some questions may require more investigation, you can prepare in advance for some of the most common parent questions, such as:
- What kind of data is collected about students?
- How is student data used?
- Who has access to data about my child?
- Who is in charge of privacy in our district?
- What apps are our district using?
- How does our district hold ed tech companies and other service providers accountable for maintaining the confidentiality of the student data they receive?
- Can parents access their child’s education records?
Create an FAQ handout (you can always adapt the one on pages 16-18 of this Student Data Privacy Communications Guide) and provide it to parents at least once annually. You could also print out or link to our Parents’ Guide to Student Data Privacy.
The first place many parents will go to find answers is their school or district’s website. It is vital to have at least a little easily-found information on your website. This doesn’t have to be fancy! One of our favorite websites from Chesterfield County Public Schools (see screenshot) is extremely simple. It has links to:
- A list of what apps the district is using and the privacy policies for those apps (don’t know what apps your district is using? Find out! Take a survey, or use a product like LearnTrials or Catch On);
- The Privacy Policies & Guidelines for the district;
- Privacy FAQs; and
- A link to a Google form where parents can ask a quick question that gets automatically sent to the person in charge of privacy for that district.
- Chesterfield County Public Schools Privacy Page
- Fairfax County Privacy Page
- Ventura County e-Safety Committee Task Force
- Houston ISD Privacy Page
- Denver Public Schools Student Data Privacy Page
- My favorite webpage ever: Wisconsin SEA Privacy Page
Don’t be afraid to steal content from other SEAs and LEAs and link to other great resources!
There are many other great ways to communicate. Some districts have an annual meeting with students and their parents about privacy. Some devote annual time for students to learn about their privacy at school. Others put information about student privacy – like a monthly privacy tip – in their district’s monthly newsletter. Figure out how parents in your district can best be reached – by mobile phone, website, in person, etc – and meet them where they are. Check out our favorite communications resource, the Foundation for Excellence in Education Student Data Privacy Communications Toolkit, for ideas and resources you can copy and paste.
- Transparency Best Practices (PTAC)
- Student Data Privacy Communications Toolkit (ExcelinEd)
- A Parents’ Guide to Student Data Privacy (National PTA, ConnectSafely, FPF)
- Data Quality Campaign
Have other communications suggestions or materials that other districts could use? Email them to us at [email protected].