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This Week in Student Privacy: 3/24

DELAYED: Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act to be introduced to the House
The bill, sponsored by House Reps. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), was supposed to be introduced in the House on Monday, but has been delayed due to criticism. Although Politico reports that they’re confident it will quickly earn bipartisan support in both chambers,” there has been pushback from parents and privacy advocates. “This bill doesn’t fulfill President Obama’s stated commitment to ensure that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes,” Khaliah Barnes, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s student privacy project, told Politico. As Natasha Singer points out at the NYT, “It allows school services to make unilateral changes to their contracts and privacy policies. It permits them to disclose student information for purposes like preparing for ‘employment opportunities’...The bill is also unlikely to prohibit companies like Pearson from monitoring the social media posts of students if those activities are performed on behalf of state educational agencies.” For more: Washington Post, The Hill, NPR.

Startups increase transparency of privacy policies and terms of service
Following a move by Clever to post their privacy policy and terms of service on Github, LearnSprout did the same thing, and posted a detailed summary of the dialogue with stakeholders which led to some of their changes. From their blogpost: “With LearnSprout, our users are mainly educators. However, unlike most consumer applications, edtech companies have an impact beyond our primary users. We now view our product through the lens of of parents and students and are actively pursuing product enhancements that will leverage the potential of data without reducing students into a quantifiable series of ones and zeros.” For more: Parent Coalition of Student Privacy.

#Pearsoniswatching: New Jersey Department of Education investigating Pearson monitoring of social media activity
Evidence that Pearson has been monitoring the social media posts of students taking the PARCC (a statewide test, also administered in other states) has emerged in at least one school district in New Jersey, Bob Braun reports. Pearson has acknowledged the monitoring, saying, “We believe that a secure test maintains fairness for every student and the validity and integrity of the test results." Pearson has also said that it is “contractually required by the 12 member states and the District of Columbia to monitor social media to prevent anyone from compromising test questions.” The American Federation of Teachers union has launched a petition asking for the monitoring to end, and members of the NJ Assembly Education Committee are considering legislative efforts to address this issue. For more: New York Times.

Additional news/resources

This update was compiled by Paulina Haduong and Hannah Offer.

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