Technology and the Internet have created countless new opportunities for learning. Students can now read about virtually any subject from anywhere and can connect with people and places around the world. Teachers are harnessing the power of the technology to bring curriculum alive and modify instruction to meet the unique needs of every child.
With the advent of increasingly innovative ways to learn, National PTA believes that making learning via technology and the Internet safe for students should be a top priority. Toward the end of 2014, National PTA became involved in identifying best practices for safeguarding and managing student data and ensuring parents have appropriate notification and consent as to what and how children’s data is collected and used.
As part of its efforts, National PTA has 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.
Among the information provided, the guide answers the following questions:
- Who has access to personal information about my child?
- What is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and when does it apply to information from students?
- When do I have the choice to “opt-out” of my child’s information being shared?
- How do I gain access, make corrections or request deletions to my child’s data?
Schools have always held a wide range of data about children and families. Name, address, names of parents or guardians, date of birth, grades, attendance, disciplinary records, eligibility for lunch programs, special needs and the like are all necessary for basic administration and instruction. Teachers and school officials use this information for lots of reasons, including to assess how well students at a school are progressing, how effective teachers are at teaching, and how well a school performs compared to other schools. State departments of education also collect and aggregate data to help guide policy decisions and plan budgets.
Guaranteeing the effective use of students’ information while keeping this information protected remains paramount.
To download the guide and learn more about privacy rights for students and parents, visit ferpasherpa.org.
Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.