The NCSL Blog

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By Kevin Frazzini

Over time, schools collect a huge amount of information on student attendance, behavior and performance. Generally, that’s is a good thing.

lock on keyboardThe data can be used to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, and they let administrators and parents see what kids are learning and compare that with what they should know at certain grade levels.

But how do we ensure all that information, some of which identifies students individually, is accessible to those who need it but protected from those who might abuse it? The days of storing it in file cabinets in school offices are gone.

As NCSL’s Sunny Deye writes in this month’s State Legislatures magazine, student data today are stored on school and district computers, in state education department databases and across the internet with a variety of online service providers.

Oklahoma Representative David Brumbaugh (R) was concerned when he learned that students’ personal information might be shared with private, out-of-state companies without the parents’ or guardians’ knowledge or consent, Deye writes. That led him to introduce legislation in 2013. “It was the critical first step in developing a set of comprehensive and strict privacy controls on student data collected by Oklahoma’s public school system,” he says.

The Student DATA Act ensures that the Education Department releases only aggregated data and nothing that can be linked to a student. Brumbaugh’s bill was the first of many similar measures that have passed nationwide.

Read Sunny's story to learn which states followed the Sooners’ lead.

Kevin Frazzini is the assistant editor of State Legislatures magazine.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.