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Last year, I was appointed to a study committee in the Georgia House of Representatives that looked at the federal role in education. One of the topics that came up was the increased reliance on data schools collect from students. This data is valuable for teachers and educators, as it helps them understand how the student is doing and what areas the student may need help. It also presents challenges. Over time, this can get out of hand as the scope of the information increases to the point where parents might feel it is intrusive. I decided to do something about this. So this legislative session, I introduced to the HB414, the ‘Student Data Privacy, Accessibility, and Transparency Act.’
After a lot of work on the bill with a broad coalition of education and technology groups — as well as input from the Department of Education — HB414 passed unanimously out of the House Education Committee. Though it did not make it out of the House Rules Committee in time to be considered by the Senate, no bill is ever really dead in the legislature so we began looking for a Senate bill we could attach our bill to. We found one, and I’m grateful to Georgia State Sen. John Albers for allowing us to add HB414 to his bill SB89. The amended bill received final passage on sine die and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed it into law earlier this week. Other states are now considering similar bills, as is the U.S. Congress. This important law will limit the education related data schools collect on students and make sure it remains private and secure. For more on this bill, see the press release below from Excellence in Education, one of the many education reform groups that supported this legislation.
“We live in a digital age where information is readily available at our fingertips. When used effectively, data is a vital tool in driving student learning and customizing education for our students. The Student Data Privacy, Accessibility and Transparency Act is the most comprehensive student data privacy bill in the country and puts protections in place to ensure that student data is used responsibly. By addressing all three legs of the stool—data collected by government, data collected by vendors and parental access to their own child’s data—Georgia’s law is a model for other states. We commend Governor Deal, Senator Albers and Representative Brockway and the entire Georgia Assembly for their leadership in building a trusted learning environment that balances the necessary use and safeguarding of student data.”
Background on SB 89, the Student Data Privacy, Accessibility and Transparency Act:
SB 89 creates the “Student Data Privacy, Accessibility and Transparency Act,” which puts in place responsible policies to help safeguard student data and other personal information. Details of the bill include:
– Requires an inventory of data elements being collected, including a reason for why each is collected.
– Gives parents explicit rights to review their child’s education record, and requires schools to provide electronic copies of student records to their parents upon request.
– Avoids unnecessary collection of data that does not belong in an individual student’s educational record, such as a family’s political affiliation, voting record or religion.
– Requires development of a data security plan for the state data system.
– Requires technology providers working with schools to develop appropriate security procedures and prohibits them from selling personal information about students or using it for targeted advertising.
– Provides for the Department of Education to designate a leader to serve as the Chief Privacy Officer.