A Kansas program that trains educators how to safeguard students’ digital records received national recognition last week during U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s remarks at the Common Sense Media Privacy Zone Conference.
“As you know, though, many of our school systems have work to do to bring (privacy) policy into line with fast-changing technologies. This isn’t a matter of bad intention; it’s a matter of priorities. And for our schools, privacy needs to be a higher priority,” Duncan said.
“Some districts and states are demonstrating real leadership and thoughtfulness in these areas, and we all can learn from them. For example, the Kansas State Department of Education has developed an innovative data quality certification program to train staff on data quality practices and techniques, including privacy and security.”
Since 2007, the KSDE’s Data Quality Certification Program has provided free training for educators on how to best manage student data, which can include everything from grades and test scores to student’s special needs and transportation.
“(Students) should have confidence that the information that is needed to educate them is taken seriously, and it’s protected appropriately both in terms of its physical security as well as in staff confidentiality,” said Kateri Grillot, who is a Senior IT Trainer for KSDE.
Grillot said that while Duncan’s mention was validating for her and others in the department, she thinks that it’s really a compliment to the Kansas educators who have already participated in the training.
Although the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects the privacy of student education records, applies to any school that receives federal funding, Kansas’ Data Quality Certification is a voluntary program.
“When schools and districts are voluntarily signing up to take that advanced professional development opportunity to learn more and safeguard our students …. that gives me confidence as a parent that principals, school secretaries, and everyone across the educational gamut are seeking out ways that they can better serve students,” Grillot said. “We’ve been fortunate that as a voluntary program that we’ve seen such an overwhelming response.”
Grillot estimates that the program will certify over 800 educators this year.
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