States often collect far more information about students than necessary and fail to take adequate steps to protect their privacy, a national study concludes. The dossiers go far beyond test scores, including Social Security numbers, poverty data, health information and disciplinary incidents.
The study from the Fordham University Center on Law and Information Policy, released Wednesday, casts light on data systems created at the urging of the federal government to track student progress. One finding: States often fail to spell out protocols for purging records after students graduate. […]
Nearly all states, including Virginia and Maryland, have built or are planning virtual education “data warehouses,” aided by federal funding. […]
The Fordham study canvassed public information on state data systems and compliance with federal privacy law. It omitted the District, and researchers said they were unable to obtain information from Maryland.
Among the findings: At least 23 states note reasons for withdrawal from school such as jail, illness or mental health issues. At least 22 count student absences. At least 29 track whether students are homeless. […]
The study recommended that states tighten protocols to keep data anonymous, with special provisions for those in local schools who need to know more; that they articulate reasons for collecting data and jettison what is unjustified; and that they appoint officers to oversee compliance with state and federal privacy laws.
You should read the full report (pdf).