Over the past few months, more and more people are talking about student privacy issues linked to the new technologies deployed in schools. There is a vibrant debate in progress around student privacy, and as a leading technology provider, it’s our welcome responsibility to participate.
Before we dive in, we must first clarify what we mean by the term “student data,” only then can we shed some light on pertinent topics such as who owns this data? Who should be able to use it? And in what ways are service providers permitted to use that data?
Student data reporting company.
The context around educational data is arguably different than data collected in consumer technology. In both K12 and Higher Ed, schools can sign up for services that students use directly, and in many of these cases student data is uploaded before students or parents are consulted. For example, if a teacher signs up for Remind, parents aren’t asked if their contact information gets shared as part of an “invite” feature. While many consumer tech apps include invite features, EdTech apps are used within a different context. When a student or a parent sees an app or an invite coming from a school or a teacher, there is a level of implied trust. Increasingly, the implicit trust that students and parents give schools and districts appears to be unearned.
It’s interesting to note their prominent description of FERPA compliance:
Clever is always completely FERPA compliant under the Education Services Exemption. We partner with leading school district security teams and experts to provide outstanding data stewardship, and vendors who work with Clever have agreed to use student data in total compliance with FERPA.
It reads like a TRUSTe certification.
Clever is an edtech platform that gives students a single sign-on to all of their learning applications and helps schools automatically keep those applications up-to-date with their student information systems. Ask most education companies about student data privacy, and they’ll try to duck the question. After all, what’s the upside, when another startup comes under fire for their handling of privacy every week?
We think about this differently at Clever, where we’re proud to stand behind our privacy policies. Clever co-founder Dan Carroll’s experiences as a former district tech director led him to hate the incomprehensibly opaque privacy policies that accompany school software. We wanted Clever to be a different type of company from the start – one that always put schools in control of their data. As a result, Clever’s privacy principles are crystal clear: Clever only collects data that schools explicitly share. Clever never shares data, except when instructed by a school. Schools always retain ownership of their data.
The maker of ClassDojo, a popular behavioral tracking app used in schools across the United States, announced revisions on Tuesday in the way it retains student information.
Starting in January, the company intends to keep students’ behavioral records for only one school year.
“We are not a data company. So we have no need to keep any data beyond allowing it to be communicated between teachers, parents and students,” Sam Chaudhary, the co-founder of ClassDojo, wrote in an email to a reporter. “We think one year will give busy parents an opportunity to find time to review this information.”
But some parents, teachers and privacy law scholars say ClassDojo, along with other unproven technologies that record sensitive information about students, is being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness, like where and how the data might eventually be used.