The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) today released a new report — with accompanying survey findings — that reflect the urgent need to provide improved student privacy support to teachers, parents, and students. Almost half of teachers report they have received no substantive training on data privacy, and only four in 10 parents say their schools discussed their data protection practices. Despite that, parents and teachers report favorable opinions of the continued use of education technology even after the pandemic ends.
The report, titled “Protecting Students’ Privacy and Advancing Digital Equity,” is based on significant data collectionand outlines steps education leaders and policymakers should take. These include prioritizing privacy-focused teacher training and proactively communicating with parents about how schools are protecting their children’s data. Additionally, leaders can reduce inequity through closing the digital divide while protecting privacy, and scale up the good practices of special educators, a standout from their peers, to protect all students. The recommendations were shaped by surveys and focus groups commissioned by CDT. View the findings here.
“It can be easy to overlook hard-to-see issues like digital safety and student privacy during a time of crisis like COVID-19,” said CDT CEO Alexandra Givens. “But as our research shows, safety and privacy are vital concerns, and the vast majority of teachers and parents support more online learning even after the pandemic. It’s critical that policymakers, schools, teachers, and parents work together to protect students.”
Building on research released by CDT last month, the new report finds that teachers as well as parents generally support the use of education technology, and three out of four say they will support an increased level of online learning at home and in the classroom even after the pandemic ends.
Students who participated in the focus groups expressed little to no previous consideration or concern about student data privacy and security, but said they trust their school to protect their information. At the same time, they reported hacked video conferences during school, and teachers exposing student grades while sharing their screens.
“The perspectives of students, parents, and teachers are chronically underrepresented in conversations about student data privacy and civil rights,” said CDT Senior Fellow of Student Privacy Elizabeth Laird. “Our research lifts up those voices so leaders can better meet people where they are, provide needed access and appropriate information, and implement student privacy protection best practices.”