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National PTA Board of Directors Adopts Position Statement on Student Data Privacy and Security

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Heidi May Wilson, Media Relations Manager

Position calls for the establishment of policies that engage families in student data protection

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Oct. 28, 2015) With the increasing use of technology and data in education, National PTA’s board of directors adopted a new position statement on student data privacy and security during its October board meeting. The statement calls for the promotion of policies that maintain the confidentiality of student information and ensure families have appropriate notification and consent for what and how children’s data is collected and used.

“Technology and data are powerful tools to improve teaching and learning, but at the same time, it is imperative that students’ academic and personal information is protected,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “It is a top priority of National PTA to make certain that children’s data is safeguarded and that families are informed and engaged in the process.”

As outlined in the position statement, National PTA and its constituents are committed to promoting policies and procedures that:

  • Require states, districts and schools to be transparent and engage with families on the privacy and protection of student data
  • Allow for parents and families to retain the right to review, inspect and obtain copies of their children’s education records or online profiles
  • Require school districts and online service providers to effectively and appropriately handle data breaches, including procedures to notify students and families

National PTA also urges school districts to designate a privacy and security officer to ensure compliance with privacy law as well as coordinate professional development for teachers, principals and any school employee or official who handles student data.

The association believes that federal laws—including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)—must be modernized to protect electronic student profiles and the collection of information gathered online. PTA calls for Congress to also address the growing use of online service providers to make sure there are adequate parameters around the collection, storage, security, dissemination and destruction of student data.

“Data is critical to assess learning, guide instruction to better meet the needs of students and measure how well a school is performing. State departments of education and local districts also collect and aggregate data to help guide policy decisions and plan budgets,” added Shannon Sevier, vice president of advocacy for National PTA. “Guaranteeing the effective use of students’ data to support educational outcomes while keeping this information protected remains paramount.”

In addition to adopting the position statement, National PTA recently collaborated with the Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely to develop a free, digital guide to help parents understand the laws that protect student data as well as students’ and parents’ rights under the laws.

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth.