Data Transparency For Georgia Students

 

shutterstock_159713390Last 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.”

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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.

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  1. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    buzzbrockway: I decided to do something about this.

    A thousand thank-yous.

    This is act is so important. I hope it gets picked up everywhere.

    • #1
  2. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Please send it to every state in the Union as a model.

    • #2
  3. user_740349 Member
    user_740349
    @buzzbrockway

    Thanks folks.  We’re working on it.  :-)

    • #3
  4. captainpower Member
    captainpower
    @captainpower

    Sounds good.

    Too bad we are still stuck with FERPA at the federal level where parents have no right to know the grades their children are receiving.

    Also, seems a shame that this had to be attached to another bill. All this omnibus bill stuff seems to remove some of the accountability from our elected representatives.

    • #4
  5. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Now, if only we could get something similar for the NSA. Only half kidding.

    • #5
  6. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    buzzbrockway: This important law will limit the education related data schools collect on students and make sure it remains private and secure.

    No it won’t. No mere law can make anything secure. It can only impose penalties for violating that thing’s security.

    • #6
  7. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    As I’ve argued about collecting healthcare information, the devil is not in the collection but in the interpretation.

    I used to work as a database developer for a major insurance brokerage firm. The data were collected and broken out into various averages, and deviations from the mean. But then, the “averages” became tyrannical. Claims were challenged wherever the doctors performed procedures deviated from the “norm.” Instead of doctors on the spot being given the leeway to treat their patients, taking into account all of the variables that statistical models couldn’t contemplate, the pressure was applied for every doctor to follow the “best practice,” i.e., what the statistical model recommended.

    When a doctor recommended anything that the model didn’t consider a “best practice,” the model became a legal weapon used against him as liability.

    When mass information is used improperly, it inevitably triggers an assembly line, one-size-fits-all mentality. But certain functions really can’t be assembly-lined; some things require individual attention, like healthcare and teaching.

    • #7
  8. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    Thanks for posting your report. I see that your aim is to move toward establishment of a set of state standards. Does that imply a move away from PARCC? I liked your observation that turning Title I, Special Ed and Nutrition programs into block grants would lessen the pressure being exerted by the Federal government to stay the course with Common Core. Not to mention the fact that the state, with the cooperation of the local districts, will certainly have a better handle on how to efficiently spend that money. I hope you’ll continue to provide updates on your progress, and best of luck.

    P.S. It’s nice to see that someone who graduated from the North Avenue Trade School can put that behind him and make something of himself. – Illiniguy (UGA Law, 1980, Go Dawgs)

    • #8
  9. user_740349 Member
    user_740349
    @buzzbrockway

    We can’t all be perfect, so I won’t hold your attendance at UGA Law school against you. ;)

    Georgia got out of the PARCC tests and has developed their own. This is the first year they were used so I’m sure changes will need to be made. We also made substantial changes to our state standards and will make more as time goes on.

    The school lunch program is a big problem. We heard many complaints, not so much about the food, but that the new requirements gave every student the same amount of food. So the offensive lineman for the football team, and the scrawny 90 pound weakling receive the same amount of food. But, it’s about $1 billion each year from the Feds – a lot of money to come up with on our own.

    • #9
  10. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    $1 billion boils down to about $6.5 million per county (about 154) and would be less per school. With the strings attached of not being able give each student the appropriate amount of calories, or to distribute left overs that the kids won’t eat, and with lunches thrown in the trash at least half of that goes in to waste. About $3 million per county going to land fills. I would suggest that about 1/2 the kids or more are bringing their lunches from home. Do you really think the Georgia kids will go hungry if they opt out of that program? I went to Arkansas schools for 2 years in the 1940s, and nobody went hungry. I have family in GA, and all my AR family came from GA in 1879-1880. Very resourceful people.

    Sounds very good that “we get a billion $$ from the feds,” but the amount per school isn’t all that much and most of it wasted, along with the kids actually going hungry. Shames me that the Georgia “powers that be” haven’t got more pride than submitting and subjecting their children to this program for any amount of money. Maybe the “powers” get a hefty cut for administering the program. Sounds to me like greed. And the person who instigated this ridiculous program with ridiculous rules, sends her children to a private school that feeds them gourmet foods.

    • #10
  11. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    Thanks so much for doing this, Buck.  The protection (even though government systems are not known for their excellent execution) is significant, and the focus on non-extraneous information is also a big win.  I’m delighted to see this (as well as getting out from under PARCC) in my home state!

    Also, not surprised that good ideas come from a Yellow Jacket!

    (Ga Tech – left in ’86, 1.6 GPA…but I had a good time in my three years there and learned valuable lessons about class attendance and deadlines)

    • #11
  12. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    buzzbrockway: But, it’s about $1 billion each year from the Feds – a lot of money to come up with on our own.

    Which, if given back to the State in the form of a block grant, would go much further than it does now. What’s your Congressional delegation’s attitude about doing that?

    • #12
  13. user_740349 Member
    user_740349
    @buzzbrockway

    Illiniguy:

    buzzbrockway: But, it’s about $1 billion each year from the Feds – a lot of money to come up with on our own.

    Which, if given back to the State in the form of a block grant, would go much further than it does now. What’s your Congressional delegation’s attitude about doing that?

    Some are in favor of block grants.  We need to push harder on that front.  As someone mentioned above, a lot of food is being thrown away while other kids don’t get enough to eat.  Give us a block grant and let us handle it.

    • #13
  14. user_740349 Member
    user_740349
    @buzzbrockway

    Kay of MT:Do you really think the Georgia kids will go hungry if they opt out of that program?

    There is indeed a lot of waste.  But you’d be surprised how few kids bring lunch to school anymore.  The school lunch program is means tested so the poorest kids get it for free but even middle income kids get a discount.  Thus it’s very appealing, even to those who can afford to send their child to school with a lunch from home.

    As mentioned below, let’s block grant it to the states and let the states manage it.  States would restructure it to help the truly needy, make sure kids are properly fed, and reduce waste.  Then we can cut the program at the federal level and put money back in taxpayer’s pockets.

    • #14
  15. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    buzzbrockway:

    Kay of MT:

    There is indeed a lot of waste. But you’d be surprised how few kids bring lunch to school anymore. The school lunch program is means tested so the poorest kids get it for free but even middle income kids get a discount. Thus it’s very appealing, even to those who can afford to send their child to school with a lunch from home.

    As mentioned below, let’s block grant it to the states and let the states manage it. States would restructure it to help the truly needy, make sure kids are properly fed, and reduce waste. Then we can cut the program at the federal level and put money back in taxpayer’s pockets.

    This needs to be revamped. When I had my grandson, age 9, with special diet problems (celiac), the school lunch programs were useless for us even tho we qualified. On my meager income I made sure he had a health lunch every day, and even sent extra snacks for his classmates, so he wouldn’t be tempted to eat any of their food. What do children with special diet needs do now under the rules? I read someplace that teachers were inspecting lunches brought from home and disposing of what “they” thought was inappropriate.

    • #15
  16. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    buzzbrockway:The school lunch program is means tested so the poorest kids get it for free but even middle income kids get a discount. Thus it’s very appealing, even to those who can afford to send their child to school with a lunch from home.

    Our political class (present company excepted) has turned “Eligibility Creep” into one of the best ways to assure support. What starts out as a noble effort to help the truly poor or disadvantaged soon morphs into a program that covers everyone. It’s not only wasteful, it can’t help but encourage dependency. The people most hurt are those who are most in need. But, once the program has been expanded, it’s almost impossible to scale it back.

    • #16

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