The New York Times reports that there are increasing concerns about student privacy nationwide:
At a New York state elementary school, teachers can use a behavior-monitoring app to compile information on which children have positive attitudes and which act out. In Georgia, some high school cafeterias are using a biometric identification system to let students pay for lunch by scanning the palms of their hands at the checkout line. […]
Now California is poised to become the first state to comprehensively restrict how such information is exploited by the growing education technology industry.
Legislators in the state passed a law last month prohibiting educational sites, apps and cloud services used by schools from selling or disclosing personal information about students from kindergarten through high school; from using the children’s data to market to them; and from compiling dossiers on them.
The law is a response to growing parental concern that sensitive information about children — like data about learning disabilities, disciplinary problems or family trauma — might be disseminated and disclosed, potentially hampering college or career prospects. Although other states have enacted limited restrictions on such data, California’s law is the most wide-ranging. […]
Gov. Jerry Brown has not taken a public position on the measure, or on a related student privacy bill regulating school contracts with education technology vendors. If he does not act, the bills will become law at the end of this month. […]
The California effort comes at a pivotal time for the industry. Schools nationwide have been rushing to introduce everything from sophisticated online portals, which allow students to see course assignments and send messages to teachers, to reading apps that can record and assess a child’s every click. These data-driven products are designed to adapt to the abilities and pace of each child, holding out the promise of improved academic achievement.