State Boards Examine Effective Use and Protection of Student Data

By Joseph Hedger

As new technologies arise that collect K-12 student data to improve education outcomes, educators and parents worry about the consequences for student safety and security. State boards of education have the dual task of guaranteeing student data are secure and improving student outcomes through use of innovative technologies and personalized learning. And since federal law often struggles to keep up with technology, state boards and legislatures are the places where nimble policies will be developed to support the timely, effective use and protection of student data, which are fundamental to the success of personalized learning. In the first half of 2018 alone, 21 state boards discussed policies governing the use of student data.

Some focused on data privacy. In May 2018, the New York Board of Regents discussed data privacy and security across the state and heard an update on the process by which the Data Privacy Advisory Council and the chief privacy officer draft regulations to clarify and further implement the New York Education Law §2-d. This law addresses the privacy and security of students’ personally identifiable information (PII) and requirements for educational agencies with access to PII.

At the Tennessee State Board of Education’s meeting in April 2018, board members approved an update to the policy manual governing state board–authorized charter schools. The state board added two policies on records retention and test security. As part of Policy 1408, the director of schools must develop a records retention schedule to ensure records are maintained in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations. Policy 4701 requires the state board to adopt test security procedures that lay out expectations for charter schools authorized by the state board.

Other state board discussions focused on transparency and effective use of data. During the Michigan State Board of Education meeting in January 2018, the state deputy superintendent and the dashboard designer gave a presentation on their same-day launch of the Parent Dashboard for School Transparency, which gives easy access to valuable measures including student-to-staff ratios, attendance information, school assessment scores, and access to college-credit or career-tech programs.

The Nebraska State Board of Education received a status report in May 2018 on the transition from the Nebraska Student and Staff Record System (NSSRS) to the Advanced Data Views Improving Student Educational Response (ADVISER) Dashboard, which is a web-based view of student and staff data to help educators personalize instruction and make data-driven decisions.

Some state boards discussed both effective data use and security. In June 2018, the Maryland State Board of Education adopted amendments to the Code of Maryland Regulations 13A.03.04: Test Administration and Data Reporting Policies and Procedures. Aimed at efficient testing procedures, the amendments require local school systems to deliver accurate, timely assessment results to parents and guardians, and they direct schools to designate a local accountability coordinator and a school testing coordinator to oversee test administration, security, training, and implementation of state-mandated assessments.

Joseph Hedger is a NASBE associate editor. He can be reached at