New Report: How Student Opt-Out Policies Impact Teaching and Learning
Washington, D.C. — The potential development of student data “opt-out” policies, which would prevent schools and other educational agencies from collecting data on students, have emerged as a prominent recent theme in policy, the media, and political conversations about safeguarding the privacy, security and confidentiality of education data. A new report, however, cautions that broad opt-out policies may negatively impact student success and strain everyday school functions.
“We need teachers to have all the information necessary to help students’ succeed. We also need to build the public trust—especially of parents—that this data, and all data on kids, are being kept confidential, secure, and safe. People won’t use data they don’t trust will not be used to harm them or their kids,” said Aimee Rogstad Guidera, founder and executive director of the Data Quality Campaign.
“Policymakers and educators need to take responsibility and action by building an environment of trust and a culture of ethical data use.”
A new policy brief by the Data Quality Campaign and its partners provides recommendations for policymakers, including the following:
- Create ways for parents and the public to learn why data are collected and shared, and how the information is used to benefit students.
- Clearly communicate to parents their right to view information collected, and when they have a right to opt out of data collection.
- Review current opt-out policies and specify noneducational activities in which allowing parents to opt out is feasible.
- Make sure privacy policies distinguish between data collected by educational institutions and those collected by online learning tools and programs.
- Require that all contracts with third-party service providers can easily be viewed by the public.
The new report, produced by the Future of Privacy Forum, cautions that allowing parents to opt out of data collected for administrative, instructional, or measurement purposes will likely:
- Weaken the quality of the student learning experience.
- Increase workloads for teachers and administrators.
- Undermine security of schools’ student data management tools or email systems.
- Severely limit state and local officials’ ability to evaluate and improve education programs.