The Top 10: Student Privacy News (April – May 2017)

The Future of Privacy Forum tracks student privacy news very closely, and shares relevant news stories with our newsletter subscribers.* Approximately every month, we post “The Top 10,” a blog with our top student privacy stories.

The Top 10

  1. A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would overturn a federal prohibition on tracking the educational and employment outcomes of college students. This legislation “would allow the federal government, as well as families and prospective students, to obtain more accurate and complete data about whether students at a particular college, or in a certain major, graduate on time and find well-paying jobs, among other things.” News articles have reported on reactions to the bill so far, and New America’s new privacy fellow writes about the privacy protections built into the bill. It may be worth reading FPF’s comments to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking on this topic.
  2. President Trump has ordered a review of cybersecurity education and workforce-development efforts as part of his Cybersecurity Executive Order signed on May 11th. Among other departments, the U.S. Department of Education is supposed to provide a report to the President within 120 days with “findings and recommendations regarding how to support the growth and sustainment of the nation’s cybersecurity workforce in both the public and private sectors.” It may be useful to re-read Ben Herold’s EdWeek article on the state of K-12 cybersecurity education.
  3. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released a report, “Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy,” which was picked up by multiple news outlets. Jim Siegl released a very interesting blog posthighlighting his results when he investigated EFF’s results, and the report was criticized by other privacy experts. Check out this great EdWeek article by Ben Herold.
  4. Edmodo has had a tough week. After reports of a data breach last week, the company was criticized for ad tracking. Some in the media noted that this “revives skepticism surrounding ‘free’ edtech tools.” This follows data of students held by Schoolzilla being exposed by a security researcher in late April (see their statement here).
  5. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy and Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has released a student privacy parent toolkit (already featured in several news outlets). While alarmist in many sections, the guide also has some useful information for parents. The group is having a webinar on May 23 on the guide.
  6. Last year, the National Academy of Education held a workshop on education research and student privacy. Yesterday, they released their report from the workshop with recommendations.
  7. There has been a big focus in the news lately on top tech companies in schools. Both EdWeek and CNN wrote about how Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft “Battle for K-12 Market, and Loyalties of Educators,” and the NYTimes front page story on Sunday was “How Google Took Over the Classroom” (that article’s author, Natasha Singer, was also interviewed on the radio).
  8. Jeffrey Johnson from Utah Valley University wrote a great paper on “Structural Justice in Student Analytics, or, the Silence of the Bunnies.”
  9. Future Ready Schools released a “Personalized Learning Guidebook Geared to Rural Districts’ Needs.” The Center for Curriculum Redesign also published a report on personalized learning, “clarifying the confusions over terminology and structure, and including its recommendations for progress.” It is worth revisiting Monica Bulger’s fantastic paper on the topic, “Personalized Learning: The Conversations We’re Not Having.” EdWeek also reported that the “Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Gives More for Personalized Learning at State Level,” and CRPE says schools should start “with the ‘why’ in personalized learning.”
  10. Lots of articles on Social-Emotional Learning this month: Audrey Watters names social-emotional learning as a trend to watch; “How a Chicago School Is Using Data to Improve School Climate” and “Teacher Prep Slow to Embrace Social-Emotional Learning” via EdWeek; “ClassDojo app takes mindfulness [meditation] to scale in public education;” new tool Panorama Student Success is an “in-depth online progress report for students” that includes data on “social-emotional well-being;” and EdSurge asks how we can measure SEL skills. In the meantime, EdSurge asks “Social-Emotional Learning Is the Rage in K-12. So Why Not in College?

*Want more news stories? Email Amelia Vance at avance AT fpf.org to subscribe to our student privacy newsletter.