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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Teachers Test Drive Google's Classroom

What do teachers have to say about Google’s latest app?
posted July 28, 2014
The latest addition to the Google Apps for Education lineup is a cloud-based workflow that helps teachers and students communicate, share assignments and get real-time comments and grades. The search-engine giant debuted the app in May, and since then, educators have been test-driving the features. Their experiences have been chronicled in detailed blog posts and videos.

EdTechTeacher created a video walk-through of Classroom's features, showing teachers how they can create a class and populate it with the right group of students. Students can then find their class by inputting a six-character classroom-access code.
The app integrates with Gmail and Drive to keep track of all assignments, with subfolders created for each class. These assignments can be customized and distributed among an entire class roster with a few clicks.
Teachers can watch a ticker in real-time as completed assignments are submitted and can then follow up with grades and comments. Missing assignments are clearly visible, so teachers can immediately reach out to students who are lagging behind.
Jen Scheffer, an instructional technology specialist from Burlington High School, in Massachusetts, has been working with Classroom over the summer, and she said she's excited about starting the school year fresh, with a paperless approach.
Scheffer posted a 15-minute walk-through of the app’s features on YouTube.
"It's clean, it's simple. The slogan right now is 'less teching and more teaching,' and I think that's a great philosophy," she said. "Teachers are not going to have to worry about extensive training on how to get their classroom set up."
In her six-part series on Classroom orientation, Google Apps for Education certified trainer Sarah Woods says that the app is lacking a unified grade book; instead, all grades are nested within each assignment. According to Woods, that omission could spell headaches down the line, when teachers try to calculate all of a student's grades. There is also no interplay between Classroom and Google's Calendar app
Kelly Fitzgerald, an online learning integration specialist for Leander Independent School District, in Texas, has been working with Classroom for just under a month. During that time, she has created a slide presentation that acts like a cheat sheet for Classroom, explaining each feature and button in the app.
Google Classroom is currently available on a trial basis, with a full rollout planned for August, just in time for the start of the 2014–2015 school year.
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Student Value Blogging

6th-Graders Have Their Say: Why Students Value Blogging

Using the platform Kidblog, my students wrote at least nine blog posts (some even chose to write more on their own initiative), five of them as specific writing assignments and four of them as “free posts.” By the end of the year, I could see the giant leaps their writing had taken, but I wondered, could they? So, for their final post of the year, I asked them to evaluate their growth through blogging to make a case for blogging in the 7th grade (if that was indeed what they wanted to do).  Here’s what they had to say.

Skeptics Convinced 

Many students were skeptical at first, or at least unsure of how blogging would work out for them. It was new and untried territory. By they end, they had changed their minds and were won over completely.
  • I have really enjoyed blogging this year. It has been a fun way to learn new writing skills. In 5th grade I didn’t really like writing. It seemed boring and like a chore. When we started blogging this year, I was really unsure about it. I thought it would be just a trick to make writing seem more exciting. I was so wrong! Blogging has been really fun for me. Blogging has let me write about things I like and enjoy, such as holidays and video games. If we just wrote papers and essays this year, I would probably get burnt out. I would not try as hard, and it would not be very enjoyable. I really want to continue this amazing experience next year. –  Caden
  • I thought it would be fun to be able to make our own posts on subjects of our choice. I was a little put off when I heard that half the posts would be free and the others would be assignments…. Now I’ve made eight posts, and soon to be nine. I can really show my improvement between my first post and my 7th. – Nate

7 Ways Students Value Blogging

1. First and foremost, students valued the opportunity for self-expression and freedom to share their feelings when writing blog posts.
  • I want to continue to write these posts … because they help me put all my thoughts into words and to stretch my creativity. – Lani
  • I like how there is no limit to how long or short blogs are. I like the freedom of blogs and their structure.  —Giselle
  • Writing the free post blogs was the best part of all, just sharing something that is cool to you and knowing that at least a few classmates are reading your blog and possibly thinking it is interesting. Every time I heard we could do a free blog, I was excited to share and get my own blog published. That feeling is a great feeling, just knowing that you PUBLISHED your own work at school! — Jack
2. Many students also saw blogging as a way to explore voice or personal style, something they may be more hesitant to do with more traditional writing assignments.
  • I feel blogging has let me grow by exposing me to different styles of writing. On a blog post I can act funny, sarcastic, or happy, and I can put my own opinion in what I write about. On a formal paper, most of the time, I don’t get to add my own personal touch. — Nina
  • I learned that … if you want to grab a reader’s attention, you have to have an interesting opening sentence. You don’t want to have an opening sentence that states what you are going to talk about in the blog. Instead, you just want to go straight into the topic. I also don’t repeat words or phrases like “I think” as much. In my first draft of one of my blog posts I kept beginning my sentence with “I think.” My teacher told me that the entire blog was about what I thought, so I went back and took out all the “I thinks.” Now my blog post has a nice flow to it. — Catherine
3. Students remarked upon being surprised by their writing’s growing depth, detail, and fluency.
  • Blogging this year has helped me write more descriptively.My first blogs … were detailed, but they didn’t have as many specific details as my newest ones do. Now, I have improved by explaining and expanding my thought…. They are the longest, but that has nothing to do with how good and detailed it is. These [last] 2 blogs have a bigger idea that has been told with more detail and a better view of the story. – Riley
  • My best blog…had more than 1,600 words. It took me a while to write, but I wanted it to be the best blog I could write…. I was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to write another one. – Audrey
  • My writing is definitely more dense and interesting. Last year with my writing I was used to the teacher just handing us a topic to write about, but now since our topics are free, I think my writing has gotten stronger. —Diego
  • At the beginning of the year, my writing was dull and boring. There was no deep language that could transform the context I wrote about. But, nowadays, my writing is colorful and vibrant. It really has a deep meaning. My writing is more understandable. – Dania
4. An important element of blogging is the opportunity for students to write in a social context, to collaborate in their learning by sharing their work with one another.
  • I really want to continue blogging next year because I enjoy writing about everyday life and about things I like. Another thing I enjoy about blogging is reading about things other people like. — Laura
  • Blogging has helped me with my writing a lot, because it allows me to practice my skills more often. It has also helped me to express my ideas with others. This allows me to compare my opinions with my classmates in a faster and more efficient manner.  Lastly, I now know how to comment and discuss topics on other people’s posts. –Devin
  • I have learned to appreciate others’ blog posts, even though sometimes I disagree with them. Also, I have learned how to express my own opinions in writing. Some students have really advanced blogs. By reading those well-written posts, I have been challenged to write more detailed and longer posts. – Connor
  • When we look at each other’s blog posts, it’s almost like listening to an oral presentation.  I also like how people can comment and give you feedback and start a discussion that might not have been able to occur physically in the classroom. — Abby
5. On their own, students discovered the value in receiving quality feedback from their peers as well as their teacher.
  • I think that any piece of regular writing helps you progress as a writer, because it lets you practice your writing skills. The only reason I like blogging more is that it makes it easier to share and get feedback on your writings. Before Kidblog, we had to just put the writings on the wall in the classroom, and if we wanted feedback, we would have to take a whole class just to say how other people liked it. Now we can just give and get feedback at our house.  – Joseph
  • I have learned a lot more about writing from all of the critiques that I have received from Ms. Davis. At first a critique sounds really awful and rude, but it helps you learn something you didn’t even know could be a mistake! — Jack
6. My students came to their own understanding of why grammar and vocabulary matter.
  • Blogging has helped me learn and grow as writer because I now know how to use commas and how to make fragment a whole sentence.  Blogging is a good thing to use to help with grammar, because if you mess up, everyone sees it and it’s embarrassing. – Will
  • Throughout the year, I have learned new techniques for grammar from reading other people’s blogs and from some of my own. Every time I write a blog I learn a new way to use words. — Sterling
7. Finally, students recognize that the way we communicate is different today, and they appreciate ways to practice authentic 21st-century learning.
  • When I first started blogging, I didn’t enjoy it. I thought it would be a waste of time, and I would rather just write an essay. But as the year went on.… I realized that technology is becoming more and more a part of a student’s academic career. The future of a student’s essays will take place on an electronic device and not pen and paper…. I enjoy writing electronically and not just with pen and paper. — Duncan

A Little Pushback and Some Final Thoughts

Not every student has fully bought into the value of blogging – it’s a big leap even to see it as writing for some. Yet, the very nature of its difference from traditional writing is exactly what they like about it, so they worry that they still need more direct teaching of “real” writing skills to be able to succeed academically. And the process of responding to student blogs is slow, for me at least, especially for writers who are eager to have their work published and read by their peers right away.
  • I have enjoyed blogging so much this year, but I think we should do something different next year. The reason I say this is because we have not had our last two blogs posted yet. I do not blame the teacher because it takes a long time to read all of the blog posts. I do agree that it does help grow as a writer, but it is just a little boost, not a full jumpstart. – Will
Yet, the overwhelming majority of my students asked to blog again next year. With more freedom to post more quickly, before a teacher’s review of their work, they might really take off! Here are some of their concluding thoughts:
  • Everyone has gotten so good at blogging. I don’t think we will want to give it up. – Sam
  • It has pushed me to be the best writer I can be. I think blogging has been a big impact on our lives and has helped us grow as learners. Yes, we are not perfect bloggers yet, and I may have a few incorrect spellings or grammar errors, but we can change that if we blog next year. – Raegan
  • I think that blogging should be in every grade in middle school, because it is a great way to practice writing. –Josh
  • Why let your mind’s secret writing hide away and go to waste! – Dania
  • I like to look at blogging like swimming. Swimming is one of the best things for your body because it exercises every part. Blogging helps exercise every part of Language Arts, and it is also a good way to gain information on the world around us. — Maddie
I feel enormously gratified that my students themselves recognize how much they have learned through blogging.  Even so, it doesn’t hurt that standardized tests have provided concrete data to support their reflections about their growth: overall my students made significant gains in vocabulary and writing skills. One student even launched a consulting business, providing advice to other students about organization, through her blog. Other students boosted their confidence when they received unexpected accolades from peers who recognized them for “Best Post of the Year.” As a result, there is no doubt in my mind that blogging is one of the best tools we can use to help grow writers of the future.
Photo Credits:
Riley, “Just Keep Blogging” via Recite (used with permission)

Susan Lucille Davis

Susan Lucille Davis

Susan Lucille Davis teaches 5th and 6th-grade Language Arts at St. Mark's Episcopal School in Houston, TX, and is a part-time instructor for CTYOnline, a program for gifted students hosted by Johns Hopkins University. Susan also contributes to the group blog Voices from the Learning Revolution, which features stories by educators who are making the shift to 21st century learning.Follow Susan on Twitter at @suludavis.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

DQA Roadmap to Safeguard Student Data

Roadmap to Safeguarding Student Data
Key Focus Areas for State Education Agencies
Why are we going on this road trip?
If our destination is improved student achievement, we
cannot get there without valuing and effectively using
data in education. Central to reaching this goal is building
trust among all those who have a stake in education that
individual student data, such as attendance, course taking,
grades, and test scores, are being collected for meaningful
purposes and kept safe, secure, and private.
Safeguarding student data is not just a technical project
done by one person within the state education agency
(SEA). It must be an integral part of the SEA’s purposeful,
planned, and transparent efforts to use data in support
of student learning. This is about changing the culture in
the SEA around data, and this culture change starts from
the top. Safeguarding student data needs to continue
to be a priority of SEA leadership, and the SEA needs to
effectively use and protect student data.
Far from being a detour, safeguarding student data is
a critical component of effective data use. When SEAs
create high-quality policies and practices that govern
data protection and use, they can be confident they
are on the right path to using data to answer critical
stakeholder questions and to inform decisions to support
continuous improvement. By implementing these policies
and practices, SEAs can engage everyone who works with
data in a culture of valuing data, clearly communicating
about data, and understanding and practicing ethical data
use. This roadmap is designed to help SEAs improve both
the specific policies and processes to safeguard data and
the transparency and communication practices needed to
create this responsible data culture.
Where are we going?
Having a high-quality student data privacy policy and
implementing related supporting practices allow SEAs
to meet their legal, technical, and moral obligation to
safeguard the student data they collect and use to
support student achievement. Through privacy policies,
data governance processes, and ongoing communication,
states describe and codify the procedures, personnel
supports, and data collection and use guidelines that SEAs
employ to safeguard the state’s education data. Making
student data privacy policies publicly available provides
transparency around data use, helping build trust with the
public that student data are being collected, managed,
and used in responsible and ethical ways. Supporting
practices, such as data privacy training for SEA staff,
awareness building, and communication processes, ensure
that the privacy policy is implemented effectively and
consistently by the SEA staff who are entrusted with
student data.
Every SEA must create and continuously update highquality
student data privacy and confidentiality policies
and develop supporting governance structures and
practices, which prescribe how student data are used
and protected in the service of improving student
achievement. This document provides specific, practical
recommendations for SEAs as they prioritize the
safeguarding of student data and continuously review and
update their data privacy policies and practices to address
changes in technology.
How do we get there?
All SEAs—and everyone who works with student data—
must comply with the Family Educational Rights and
Privacy Act (FERPA) and other federal and state laws
that protect the privacy, security, and confidentiality of
student data. However, to enhance the safeguarding of
student data and to address local needs and contexts
and the evolving use of technology in schools, SEAs
should develop their own data governance structures
and processes as well as a publicly available student data
privacy policy. SEAs can also enact high-quality practices
and supports to safeguard student data by focusing on
three key areas:
1. Transparency: Clearly communicate internally and with
the public about the policies and procedures designed
to protect student data and about how data are
collected, used, and safeguarded.
2. Governance: Design structures and delineate roles
and responsibilities that establish stable procedural
and personnel-based supports for the effective
implementation of privacy policies.
3. Data Protection Procedures: Implement specific
security and privacy strategies, processes, and controls
that physically, technically, and legally safeguard
student data.
Planning Ahead for Future Journeys
As SEAs develop high-quality policies and practices
to protect the data they collect and use and recognize
the importance of data quality and integrity to support
student achievement and enact critical reforms, they can
also begin to consider additional ways to strengthen their
privacy policies and practices and create a culture of
shared commitment to responsible and effective data use,
such as
• identifying ways to share information about current
data uses and research studies with parents and other
members of the public;
• using findings from risk assessments (internal review
of existing privacy policies and practices) and security
audits (internal or external review of processes and
technical environment) to strengthen and formalize
student data privacy policies and procedures;
• implementing SEA policies and establishing practices
for public transparency around how student data
privacy policies are developed and implemented;
• identifying elemental-level data that contribute to
student level indicators, and determining appropriate
protections for each element (e.g., identifying the exact
data pieces used to calculate a student’s record of
chronic absence); and
• creating a policy or process that addresses the
commercialization of student data. While states are
legally prohibited from selling student data, they bear a
responsibility in defining the permissible collection and
uses of data by external technologies and programs
used in classrooms.
Together, these recommendations can guide state efforts
to continually adapt, revise, and refine their data privacy
and security policies and practices. Ultimately, however,
policies and procedures are only one part of the larger
effort to transform the culture of education data use from
one of accountability to one of providing meaningful
services and high-quality education to every student.
Hopefully, SEA efforts to engage state leadership in data
governance, codify processes, and communicate with
other agencies and the public will support this culture
change and keep states moving down the road of using
data ethically and effectively to support students.
Tools for the Trip
Find additional resources from the Data Quality Campaign (DQC)
and other organizations to aid in developing and implementing
SEA student data privacy policies and practices, including the
●● guides on talking about data with different audiences
●● guidance and technical resources for state policymakers
●● practical tools for crafting legislation to safeguard and govern
data and for selecting and working with service providers
How does transparency safeguard student data?
Transparency around privacy policies and practices is
critical to building trust with the public, particularly
parents, about the value of data. If the public is
confident that the data collected are safeguarded
and are used in specific, ethical ways to help
students succeed, they can trust the SEA to collect
and use student data. In addition, seeking public
participation, discussion, and input on the use of data
and its governance fosters empowerment and builds
collaborative relationships with parents, teachers,
and education leaders.
What does transparency look like?
• Relevant state, local, and federal laws are
referenced in the SEA student data privacy policy.
• There is an annual or regular review and update of
the student data privacy policy.
• The student data privacy policy clearly states the
types of student data collected and the purposes
for which the data will be used, and it refers to
data protection, maintenance, and rentention
• The student data privacy policy is publicly
available and no more than one click away from
the SEA website homepage.
• The student data privacy policy is available in
additional languages or formats (depending on
the state population).
• The student data privacy policy is clear and
written in plain language, not technical or legal
• The student data privacy policy contains protocols
for sharing data (e.g., with researchers, nonprofit
partners, other state agencies).
• There is a data inventory or data classification
(e.g., a data dictionary) that defines each data
element collected and stored by the SEA that is
regularly reviewed and updated.
• The SEA maintains and publishes a list of all
external student data requests that are fulfilled
and indicates what data were provided and
whether the requests included personally
identifiable information (PII) that could be used to
identify an individual student.
Transparency refers to the clarity and availability of the SEA’s materials and communication
around the collection, use, and safeguarding of student data. Materials can include the SEA’s
privacy policy, inventories of data collected by the state and how they are used, and lists of
external data requests. Communication refers both to internal SEA communication structures and
to outreach activities to the public.
How can an SEA achieve this?
SEAs can create a clear, user-friendly place on their websites that allows members of the public to easily
access the student data privacy policy and understand how the SEA safeguards student data. SEAs can
also prepare a description of the uses of the data and the benefits for families, teachers, and schools.
State leaders should be able to speak to the value of data in supporting student achievement in the
state and how the SEA safeguards student data through the SEA’s privacy policies and practices.
• There is a written internal communication
structure, providing clarity around when and
how to include executive-level staff in critical
• There is a clear and documented process for
receiving and responding to complaints, concerns,
and questions from parents and other individuals
about the privacy policy or the use of student PII.
• There are processes for engaging internal and
external stakeholders (e.g., SEA department
heads, state information technology office) to
gather feedback about the privacy policy.
• The SEA solicits broad public comment on the
privacy policy with clarity around which issues are
open for public comment and which are not.
• Information is available for parents and other
internal and external stakeholders to explain
the student data privacy policies (e.g., through
brochures, flyers).
2 Governance
How does governance safeguard student data?
Data governance is needed to establish the best
structure and identify the right individuals to make
decisions and implement the SEA’s education data
collection and use framework. Governance empowers
these bodies and their members with the authority
and responsibility to make necessary decisions that
ensure data are used effectively and in compliance
with the state’s privacy policies and practices (and to
create consequences for noncompliance). In addition,
governance gives sustainability to these policies
and practices and ensures that they will safeguard
student data over time, even as leadership priorities
What does governance look like?
• There is executive-level (e.g., chief state school
officer) support for data governance.
• There is a chief privacy officer or other high-level
official who plays a significant role in the SEA’s
privacy efforts (i.e., this is an official position or an
explicit component of a job description).
• The SEA has or supports a program to increase
awareness of privacy policies and practices
among its staff.
• There is ongoing professional development and
training for SEA staff on safeguarding student
data, including new protocols, issues, and policies.
SEA staff are required to complete training on
a regular basis (e.g., annually), measure their
understanding, and are responsible for achieving a
specified threshold in regard to training standards.
Not meeting this threshold has consequences,
including denial of access to data.
• The SEA works with its human resource
department to incorporate employee
responsibilities around safeguarding student data
into position descriptions, especially those dealing
with confidential information.
• There are efforts to further develop the skills of
the SEA staff to safeguard student data (e.g.,
external conference attendance, group discussions
of whitepapers, webinars).
Data governance, a critical aspect of data management, provides the SEA an opportunity to
define and establish the roles and responsibilities needed to institutionalize a commitment to
data quality and use. Without a data governance strategy there is no clear ownership of the data;
no clear business processes for collecting, managing, and reporting data; and no accountability
for data quality and integrity.
Governance is needed to ensure that integrated and
master data (data which are collected once but used
in numerous places) are used and disclosed only
for proper purposes and in the proper manner. In
addition, governance structures can ensure that the
state collects and uses data effectively to answer
critical questions about student achievement and
school performance and to identify best practices
and pathways for student success. Governance
related to safeguarding data can include establishing
training and supports for SEA personnel, defining
roles and responsibilities around internal auditing
and accountability, and delineating standards for
contractors and vendors who have approved access
to limited student data.
• Data requests are handled using established data
governance procedures.
• There are documented data system and
compliance audit processes, and they are
reviewed and updated at least annually.
• There are reviews of privacy implications
associated with new data sharing or analysis
• There are documented rules for disclosure
avoidance (i.e., processes to avoid unintentionally
releasing PII) before publishing data (in
accordance with FERPA), and they are reviewed
and updated at least annually.
• If student data are shared with third parties (e.g.,
researchers, evaluators), the sharing is done in
compliance with federal, state, and local laws.
• There is student data privacy policy and data
governance orientation, which is required for
contractors and vendors who have approved
access to limited student data.
• Memoranda of understanding for cross-agency
data sharing (e.g., between the SEA and in-state
postsecondary institutions) include processes that
follow all relevant state, local, and federal data
privacy laws. These processes include appropriate
monitoring provisions for all long-term or
renewable data sharing agreements.
• External contracts satisfy all applicable privacy
laws. These contracts minimally include data
protection responsibilities required of contractors
and vendors that are comparable to those
required of SEA staff who have approved access
to student data. The SEA monitors contractor and
vendor capability and follow-through to protect
student data.
How can an SEA achieve this?
SEAs can support their implementation of high-quality data governance to safeguard student data by
responding to data privacy conversations within the state and ensuring that governance structures and
procedures address this context. This may include responding to specific public concerns (e.g., the use
of a service provider, teacher effectiveness policies) or working with other state entities participating in
data governance work, such as state school boards or state executive leadership. SEAs can also address
the implications of changing data management technologies (e.g., cloud computing, mobile devices,
new data management applications and software) through their governance procedures.
3 Data Protection Procedures
How do data protection procedures safeguard student data?
Data protection procedures ensure that the SEA has
specific protocols and supports in place to safeguard
student data. These procedures are formalized,
documented, and regularly shared internally.
They include measures to physically safeguard
data; to ensure the proper orientation, training,
and monitoring of staff interacting with data; to
implement formal student data privacy policies at
the state level; and to create procedures to ensure
that data are protected across multiple uses (e.g.,
research, evaluations, public reporting).
What does data protection look like?
• The SEA develops and implements comprehensive
and effective physical, technological,
environmental, and legal data privacy and security
policies and procedures. Policies and procedures
address the following:
–– the encryption, storage, and transmission of
student PII
–– disclosure processes that describe the
appropriate situations and processes for
releasing or sharing student data
–– personnel management and training for staff
who have access to student data
–– processes for data destruction in all places
where the data are stored
–– procedures for tracking and monitoring
processes and activities to ensure that they are
followed and consequences for not doing so
(e.g., data destruction practices are monitored
to ensure data were destroyed as specified)
• Levels of data sensitivity are clearly defined,
and data are categorized by these levels, with
appropriate differences in levels of protection
depending on how sensitive the data are. The
definitions and categorization should recognize
that although all student data may be considered
sensitive, some pieces of data (e.g., special
education indicators) may be considered
more sensitive than other pieces of data (e.g.,
attendance rates).
• Processes and practices ensure that encryption or
other protection is in place during movement or
transmission of sensitive or confidential data and
that these protections are routinely reviewed and
kept up to date.
• SEA staff annually review the student data privacy
policy and provide written assurances that they
will meet their data privacy responsibilities as a
prerequisite to getting access to data.
• There is orientation for new SEA staff regarding
data responsibilities soon after beginning
employment and for current SEA staff with
new responsibilities; access to data depends on
completion of the orientation.
• Access to student PII is based on SEA staff roles
and responsibilities. There is a regular audit,
conducted at least annually, of the responsibilities
of continuing SEA employees to ensure that data
access levels remain appropriate. Data access
privileges are updated when SEA staff take a new
position in the agency, new SEA staff join, and
SEA staff leave.
• Background checks are performed on SEA
employees who have access to student PII.
Data protection procedures are the formalized, internal activities and standards that SEAs employ
to manage and protect the education data they collect.
How can an SEA achieve this?
SEAs can review their existing data privacy policies, and policies across state agencies, to ensure that
the SEA student data privacy policy is consistent with other state policies (e.g., in terms of governance,
penalties, and personnel, such as having a chief privacy officer). States can determine gaps and
inconsistencies or overlaps among the state privacy policies and create an SEA student data privacy
policy that complements and is consistent with other privacy policies in the state.
• There is a documented data retention policy that
explicitly addresses for how long and in what
manner student data should be kept to ensure its
availability for legitimate educational purposes
while safeguarding student data.
• There are documented processes around the use
of PII data for software application development
and related processes (e.g., helpdesk support,
troubleshooting issues).
• There is a regularly reviewed list of approved
vendors who have appropriately authorized access
to student data for legitimate educational reasons.
Appropriate agreements are in place with vendors
and are monitored and updated.
• There are documented policies regarding data
ownership and appropriate uses of shared data.
These policies include consulting with data owners
(i.e., the agency that initially supplied the PII and
has primary responsibility under law for its proper
use and protection) about other potential uses of
the data.
• Documented roles and responsibilities regarding
data protection, data ownership, and data access
are regularly reviewed and updated.
• There are documented policies for handling
privacy incidents, such as data breaches, including
a response process with designated leadership.
Privacy incidents are tracked in a standardized
way, and the public is notified when appropriate.
• The SEA or another state agency conducts a
periodic risk assessment (a review of existing
privacy policies and practices leading to an
identification of potential privacy risks), and
findings are documented and tracked to ensure
that appropriate action is taken to resolve
identified risks.
• For all personally identifiable student data sets,
there are test data (data that cannot be linked or
traced to actual individual students) available for
application testing, demonstrations, trainings, etc.
• There is a process to determine the educational
needs that require collection, maintenance, or
disclosure of data (both within and outside the
SEA). That is, the SEA can articulate why student
data are being collected or shared (e.g., to
improve student achievement, to comply with laws
and regulations).
• There is a documented process for submitting,
authenticating, and evaluating external data
requests. This process includes steps to determine
whether internal and external requests for data
can be adequately met with de-identified or
aggregate data rather than PII.
• There are data minimization processes to ensure
that data elements are collected, maintained,
and/or linked only when needed for specified
• There are practice drills and process reviews for
privacy incidents (e.g., data breaches) to ensure
that processes and procedures are effective and
being followed appropriately.
Additional Resources from DQC and Other Organizations on Safeguarding Student Data
Value of Data
●● Ms. Bullen’s Data Rich Year: This graphic
follows a teacher and student through
the school year to see how data help
teachers, parents, and others make sure
students are meeting education goals.
Communicating about Data
●● Talking about the Facts of Education
Data with Policymakers: This one-page
fact sheet answers critical questions
for policymakers about the federal
role in data collection and regulations
prohibiting the selling of student data.
●● Talking about the Facts of Education
Data with Parents: This one-page fact
sheet answers critical questions for
parents about why states and districts
collect education data and what the
federal role in data collection is.
●● Talking about the Facts of Education
Data with School Board Members: This
resource, created in conjunction with the
National School Boards Association, is
designed to help school board members
better understand the value of education
data and their role in safeguarding
student data.
The Facts about Safeguarding
●● Myth Busters: Getting the Facts Straight
about Education Data: This set of myth
busters provides facts about common
education data misconceptions,
including the perceived federal role
in data collection, sensitive student
information, and FERPA.
●● Safeguarding Student Data: This onepage
fact sheet outlines three strategies
for policymakers to pursue in their
efforts to safeguard student data and
support effective data use: addressing
stakeholder needs, communicating
with the public, and implementing
appropriate policies.
●● Communicating Data Toolkit: This toolkit
contains language and tools for talking
with peers, press, and the public about
data and meeting education goals.
Guidance and Technical
Resources for Policymakers
●● Supporting Data Use While Protecting
the Privacy, Security and Confidentiality
of Student Information: This
publication outlines three overarching
responsibilities of state policymakers
to protect the privacy, security, and
confidentiality of students’ PII.
●● Key Elements for Strengthening
State Laws and Policies Pertaining to
Student Data Use, Privacy, and Security:
Guidance for State Policymakers:
EducationCounsel, a leading education
law consulting firm, developed this
document with guidance for state
policymakers on the key foundational
components to include in a privacy
policy as well as model legislative
●● The US Department of Education
created the Privacy Technical Assistance
Center (PTAC) as a resource on privacy,
confidentiality, and security practices
related to the use of student data.
Among PTAC’s many resources is
Protecting Student Privacy While Using
Online Educational Services, which
clarifies when and how FERPA applies to
student data collected by internet-based
services. Another resource explains all of
the FERPA exceptions.
●● CoSN Protecting Student Privacy in
Connected Learning Toolkit: This toolkit
prepared by the Consortium for School
Networking (CoSN) is a practical guide
for school and district leaders on
selecting and contracting with thirdparty
service providers for data storage
and management.
These recommendations were developed in collaboration with the following group of experts.
●● Kathy Gosa, formerly of the Kansas
Department of Education
●● Chandra Haislet, Maryland Department
of Education
●● Daria Hall, The Education Trust
●● Hans L’Orange, State Higher Education
Executive Officers Association
●● Rodney Petersen, EDUCAUSE
●● Jay Pfeiffer, Consultant
●● Maureen Wentworth, Council of Chief
State School Officers
●● Steven Winnick, EducationCounsel
●● Kathleen Styles, US Department of
Education (Advisory member)
The Data Quality Campaign’s Data for Action is a series of analyses that highlight state progress
and key priorities to promote the effective use of data to improve student achievement. For more
information, and to view Data for Action 2013, please visit www.DataQualityCampaign.org.

10 Steps That Protect the Privacy of Student Data

10 Steps That Protect the Privacy of Student Data

As the interpretation of privacy laws evolves along with privacy laws themselves and the technology services they seek to govern, the CoSN Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning Toolkit will evolve as well, with information forthcoming on compliance with other federal student privacy protection laws.
Beyond Compliance to Aspirational Practice
If mere compliance is insufficient, what should responsible school systems be doing when it comes to privacy? In a new report underwritten by Intel, Bob Moore, director of CoSN’s Privacy Project and founder of RJM Strategies, suggests 10 steps that every school district should take to better ensure the privacy of student data:
1) Designate a privacy official. Decide who in the district is responsible for privacy. A senior administrator should be designated as the person responsible for coordinating efforts to ensure compliance with privacy laws and policies.
2) Seek legal counsel. All schools have access to the services of legal counsel. Regardless of how your school receives those services, make sure your counsel understands the privacy laws and how they are applied to technology services.
3) Know the laws. This is not easy, but it is essential. In addition to the CoSN Toolkit and resources from the U.S. Department of Education, many other organizations have developed or will be developing privacy-related materials. Don’t forget about state laws or proposed state laws.
4) Adopt school community norms and policies. FERPA and COPPA are the bare minimum when it comes to protecting privacy. There must be consensus among your stakeholders regarding collecting, using and sharing student data. Without consensus, it’s impossible to adopt enforceable policies.
5) Implement workable processes. If your school is going to be serious about privacy, there must be processes with checks and balances for accountability. No one wants to create roadblocks to innovation, but ensuring privacy requires proactive planning and disciplined action on the part of school staff. Compliance with privacy laws suggests some specific processes for schools, and they should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are workable and reflect current interpretations.
6) Leverage procurement. Every school RFP, bid and contract (or service agreement) has standard language dealing with a wide range of legal issues such as indemnity, liability, payment and severability. By adopting standard language related to privacy and security, you will make your task much easier. Many online services are offered via click-wrap agreements that are “take it or leave it.” It may be necessary to ask staff to look for alternative solutions if the privacy provisions do not align with your expectations.
7) Provide training. Unless you train your staff, they will not know what to do or why it is important. Annual privacy training should be required for any school employee who is handling student data, adopting online education apps or procuring and contracting with service providers. Privacy laws represent legal requirements that need to be taken seriously.
8) Inform parents. Parents should be involved in the development of privacy norms and should provide policy input. Just as schools provide significant information about online safety and appropriate use, they should put significant effort into making sure that parents understand the measures that educators are taking to protect student privacy.
9) Make security a priority. The importance of security to ensuring privacy cannot be overstated. Secure the device, the network and the data center. Toughen password policies. Have regular security audits conducted by a third-party expert. Make sure that RFPs, bids and contracts have clear and enforceable security provisions for your online service providers.
10) Review and adjust. Interpretations of privacy laws are changing, and new laws may be added. School policies and practices will need updating and adjustment so that they reflect legal requirements. Processes can become burdensome and when that happens, some people may want to skirt the process. Seek input from those involved to ensure that the processes are not hindering teaching and learning.
Most importantly, get started now before the privacy questions create a firestorm in your community. Be a privacy leader.

Read more at http://thejournal.com/Articles/2014/07/23/10-Steps-That-Protect-the-Privacy-of-Student-Data.aspx?Page=2#SxJG9w8eD3Y3fp3m.99


MIT Wants You To Own Your Own Data, Not Give It Away

The new system, called OpenPDS, protects your privacy while still letting apps access information they need to work.
MIT researchers have a great new way to protect your privacy on your smartphone: Stop giving your data away.
It doesn’t take a PhD to come up with this statement, but such a feat is clearly easier said than done. Even without NSA spying, a growing number of mobile and web-based apps collect information about us from our devices in exchange for providing a service. Want directions or an idea for lunch nearby? Allowing Yelp to know your location could help. Data collection is also useful when apps can aggregate information for many anonymous users and provide extra services. For example, Google Maps can estimate real-time road traffic conditions because it knows how quickly many people are traveling.
This is the crux of the privacy trade-off. Up until now, to get these benefits individuals basically had to agree to give up their privacy, as almost everyone who uses the Internet or a smartphone does. Even supposedly anonymous metadata, like logs of location or phone calls, can reveal people’s identities in the hands of experts with enough motivation to reverse engineer them.
But does this have to be the way the bargain goes?
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have created a personal data store system, called openPDS, that protects your personal data while still allowing applications to access the information they need.
“Instead of every application trying to collect data on the phone and send it back to servers to do the processing, a user collects their own data,” says Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, the graduate student who led the work under the direction of the MIT Media Lab’s Alex Pentland. The system, called SafeAnswers, could process his or her own data in the cloud or offline on a hard drive and then only answer specific questions from apps that query to access it.
Instead of an app collecting as much location data as possible for no good reason, an app could interact with the openPDS system and ask: “Is this person home right now?” Safe Answers could send back code that answers “yes” or “no,” but wouldn’t need to provide an entire GPS log, or even data about where exactly “home” is located, to do it.
Such a system of control could also could help people interested in making money by giving access to their own personal data, in the same way that Facebook and Google do today by selling advertisers the ability to precisely target ads their ads.
The MIT researchers are by no means the first to try to invent new ways for storing, accessing, and selling personal data that put more control in the hands of the individual, but few of these efforts have ever taken off. Startups such as Personal, Reputation.com, and Datacoup, among others, have tried to help people monetize their own data or store it on secure sites where they have control. But for these efforts to be successful on any large scale, they’d have to be used on a large scale.
The research team, which published its work recently in the journal PLoS One, plans to work with partners who might be interested in making such a system widely available. The openPDS system was first tested with 21 people who needed to control access to their medical records. Currently, the researchers are testing the system with telecommunications companies, including Telefonica and Telecom Italia, in Denmark and Italy.
De Montjoye says the openPDS system is unique because it focuses exclusively on metadata--the type of data logged in the background on devices--and because of its strong focus on privacy. Still, apps would have to interact with devices in different ways than they do today for a system like this to come widely into use. If it does, it could be disruptive to the ways a wide range of companies operate today. “It would really fundamentally change things both from a data ownership perspective and a privacy perspective,” he says.

How to do blended CBE

I posted each module as the course progressed and gave loose deadlines for assignments to help participants stay on-track. This gave each participant some control over the path, place, time, or pace of completing each module. Those taking the course had to show mastery over the content of each topic (scoring 80% or above correct on each quiz) before they could move on in the course. Additionally, participants received badges after completing all of the activities in each module.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Microsoft and Google Data Privacy

Published Online: July 8, 2014
Published in Print: July 9, 2014, as Microsoft Puts Privacy On Branding Agenda

Microsoft Puts Data Privacy on Its Branding Agenda

Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for U.S. education, says: “Students are not products. We have a long way to go across the industry in getting everyone on board with protecting students’ [data
Cameron Evans, Microsoft’s chief technology officer for U.S. education, says: “Students are not products. We have a long way to go across the industry in getting everyone on board with protecting students’ [data privacy].”
—Swikar Patel/Education Week

Message delivered via research, speeches

As some of its competitors have been battered over their policies for protecting student data, Microsoft Corp. has sought to make sure that the issue—and what it regards as its strong record on privacy—remain firmly in the public eye.
But as the company moves aggressively to position itself as a protector of student-data privacy, some say it also runs the risk of a backlash if it doesn't back up its talk with the kind of vigilance the technology giant promises to deliver.
During the past year, Microsoft has supported academic research on privacy and guides for school officials on the subject. Its executives have also kept a steady presence at public forums urging school districts and policymakers, as well as parents and families, to pay attention to the issue.
"Students are not products," Cameron Evans, Microsoft's chief technology officer for U.S. education, said during a panel discussion in February, sounding a theme echoed by the company's officials. Mr. Evans was speaking at an event in February hosted by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for student-data privacy. "We have a long way to go across the industry," Mr. Evans added, "in getting everyone on board with protecting students, and to a great degree, teachers, too."
Microsoft has long had critics who have derided the behemoth company's products and business strategy. But Microsoft's out-front advocacy would appear to offer an opportunity for the company to take a swipe at some of its rivals, most notably Google, the massive, Silicon Valley-based online-services provider.

Market Positioning

Google has faced heavy criticism after admitting that it had scanned—for a variety of reasons, including potential advertising—the contents of millions of student users' emails through the company's Apps for Education tool suite. In April, Google officials said they would halt scanning student Gmail accounts for advertising purposes, but some observers say it remains unclear whether the company is data-mining student emails to build user profiles.
A spokeswoman for Google declined to comment for this story, saying the company did not comment on its competitors, and referred questions about its data-privacy policies to the April statement announcing the company's policy change. That statement noted that the company had taken several steps to ensure that students logging into the Apps suite do not see advertisements.
Microsoft offers a competing suite, Office 365 for Education, and touts its privacy protections. "Your data belongs to you," the product's website says.
The Redmond, Wash.-based company has taken aim at Google's record on privacy and other issues in less-subtle ways, such as through its "Scroogled" public-relations campaign—complete with the sale of T-shirts and coffee mugs bearing that logo—that has been panned in some circles.
There are obvious benefits for Microsoft in presenting itself as a defender of student privacy through as many channels as possible, observers of the school-tech market say. The company, which offers cloud-computing services in schools and is a major provider of operating systems in K-12 education, is focusing on an issue that has surged in the consciousness of parents and school leaders, and could become increasingly complex and problematic in the years ahead.
"Microsoft clearly sees this is a good way of distinguishing themselves. That is clear," said Jeff Gould, the president of Safegov.org, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes secure use of cloud computing in the public sector, including schools. "They must have figured out that parents want this."
Safegov.org receives money from Microsoft and numerous other technology companies, but the organization's funders have no say over its policy recommendations, Mr. Gould said.
The ability of technology companies, particularly those operating in the K-12 market, to convince the public that they can safeguard data privacy will become an increasingly marketable commodity, Mr. Gould and others predict.
"Privacy is in the wind," he said. "Consumers are becoming more aware of privacy, and they want it."

Supporting Privacy Research

Over the past year, Microsoft has helped keep student data-privacy issues in the spotlight in several ways.
The company financially supported a widely circulated study released late last year by the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham University's law school that pointed to "substantial deficiencies" in district policies for protecting student data through cloud-based computing systems. In the acknowledgments for the report, the authors thanked Steve Mutkoski, the worldwide policy director on public-sector services for Microsoft.
Microsoft also sponsored a guide to help school district leaders make decisions about privacy and ask precise questions about companies' practices, published this year by the Consortium for School Networking, or COSN, a Washington-based group representing district technology officials.
In addition, Microsoft officials offered input on a pair of K-12 resources, which included information such as legal analysis and suggested data-privacy language in contracts with vendors, released by the Council of School Attorneys, an arm of the National School Boards Association.
While it makes sense for Microsoft to market its privacy brand, "having a business reason for doing that doesn't mean they don't believe what they do," said John M. Simpson, the privacy-project director for Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based organization.

'Walking the Walk'

The downside for the company comes if it's revealed that it's "talking the talk but not walking the walk," in protecting student-data privacy, Mr. Simpson said.
The lead author of the Fordham University study, Joel Reidenberg, agreed. He said the company might also expose itself to blowback if its performance in the fast-changing ed-tech marketplace doesn't keep up with its rhetoric.
"Privacy is a moving target," he said. "The public keeps expecting more ... [I]f something [Microsoft's] doing doesn't match how they're positioning themselves," the result could be "a pretty big black eye."
Mr. Reidenberg drew a distinction between companies funding white papers and then dictating their content, and Microsoft providing funding and then letting researchers do their jobs without interference. The standard, Mr. Reidenberg argued, should be whether the material is "honestly presented or is it skewed?" The Fordham center's study passes the test, he said.
Microsoft's financial backing for the Fordham University research was part of an unrestricted gift to the law school's Center on Law and Information Policy, funding that in turn supported the study, said Mr. Reidenberg, a professor of law at the university. Microsoft had no say on the report's content, he said, noting that the center also has received grants from Google and other companies.
Representatives from COSN and the Council of School Attorneys also said that despite Microsoft's support, they, not the company, had editorial control over their guides.
Mark Schneiderman, the senior director of education policy for the Software & Information Industry Association, a Washington-based trade association, said in a statement that K-12 companies are competing on many fronts, and promising strong "data security and related tools" is just one of them.
The association's members include about 200 education-service providers, including Google, which Mr. Schneiderman credited with being "very public" about its new policies on data privacy. While the SIIA supports strong student data-privacy policies, it has also previously warned about attempted protections that go too far and thwart schools' power to use data to improve student learning.
"[T]here is a lack of understanding among parents, the media, and policymakers about what is, and is not happening in the sector," Mr. Schneiderman told Education Week.
Microsoft officials have offered views on how the sector should address privacy in various forums.
In March, Mr. Evans spoke on a privacy panel at the South by Southwest education conference, a crowded ed-tech gathering in Austin, Texas. Microsoft's outreach has also extended internationally. At a "global forum" organized by the company in Barcelona, also in March, the company's vice president for worldwide education, Anthony Salcito, opened the event with a speech focused on protecting student information.

Rhetoric and Reality

Mr. Evans has said that Microsoft's interest in data privacy is long-standing, pointing to what is known as the "trustworthy computing" memo written by then-company Chairman Bill Gates in 2002, in which he pledged that the company would improve privacy and security across its products.
At the time, Microsoft's and other companies' software had come under criticism for their vulnerability to hackers and malware. Mr. Gates' memo presaged a wave of internal efforts by Microsoft to revamp security, according to an account of the period published by the company.
Still, Microsoft has not been insulated from embarrassing gaffes on privacy issues. In March, the company announced a revamping of its customer-service agreement after it was revealed that it had searched a blogger's email account to try to unearth the identity of an employee it suspected of leaking privileged company information.
In making that admission, which drew sharp criticism, Microsoft officials alleged that the search had revealed correspondence between the blogger and a now-former company employee. The company said in the future, it would turn over investigations to law enforcement, rather than probing e-mails on its own.

Unlike some players in educational technology, Microsoft has a business model that has long compelled it to maintain strict data-privacy practices, several observers said. Much of Microsoft's business is derived from selling to large, protection-conscious companies and organizations in the public and private sectors.
"We have a track record of working with highly sensitive information in highly regulated industries," Mr. Mutkoski, the Microsoft public-sector-services official, said in an interview.
Major organizations, he added, typically expect data-privacy guarantees to be "baked into our contracts," and, he argued, school districts should expect the same.

Does focus on intensive one-on-one counseling justifies investment?

Bottom Line will conduct a seven-year national study into the effectiveness of its programs seeking to help low-income students enter and graduate from higher-quality, lower-cost colleges, the non-profit announced today.
Bottom Line is one of three organizations to win funding from the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy’s Randomized Control Trial Evaluation, which studies effectiveness in social spending. Bottom Line received $100,000 to track 1,400 students and study whether its focus on intensive one-on-one counseling throughout high school and college justifies further investment.

The non-profit will appear alongside the coalition’s other two grant winners at a White House conference hosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy on July 28.

$5B summer learning market

$250 * 20M (33% of 60M) kids = $5B

More parents are enrolling their children in summer learning programs, according to data released by the Afterschool Alliance today.

Thirty-three percent of families said at least one child participated in a summer learning program last summer, compared to 25 percent of families in 2009. The majority of families pay for their child’s program, averaging a weekly cost of $250. Afterschool Alliance notes that the median weekly income in 2013 was $776, making costly summer learning programs out of reach for many families.

Thirteen percent of families said summer learning programs were available to them for free and 86 percent of parents support public funding for programs.

The data is a snapshot from a larger report the Afterschool Alliance plans to release in October.


1.       edX has just celebrated it’s second birthday … https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=C2ducqPzESQ
2.       edX is now LTI compliant…  https://github.com/edx/XBlock
3.       Stanford has contributed a ton to edX … including chat rooms, peer grading and a shopping cart … http://iblstudios.com/stanford-university-adds-significant-new-contributions-to-open-edx/
4.       I’ve attached a recently-release report by Stanford University about online learning research – their edX findings start on p. 6.  Good stuff for RFPs, etc.  We work with these people directly.
5.       edX is releasing the book:  “Ultimate Guide to Open edX” … due out in two weeks …  http://iblstudios.com/free-ebook-open-edx/
“The Ultimate Guide To Open edX” will be released by the end of July 2014. This unique, free eBook explores the most visually engaging and innovative learning platform in the world.
Open edX is a global success:
  • It powers the edX.org educational portal of more than 2.5 million users.
  • Stanford University uses it for on-campus students and distance learners.
  • Top universities and organizations in France, China and the Middle East have embraced it, along with the World Economic Forum, the International Monetary Fund and many businesses worldwide.

Created by MIT, Harvard and Stanford, and supported by Google and 45 international universities, Open edX is disruptive technology. Moreover, its users continuously benefit from the edX community’s new improvements and innovations.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

46% of K kids at-risk

Forty-four percent of children start kindergarten with at least one risk factors related to their home lives that affects their readiness for school, a new study released today by the Sesame Workshop shows. These risk factors are associated with lower achievement, reading and math delays and dropping out of school, among other negative outcomes.
Children with all four of the risk factors examined in the analysis were almost a year behind their low-risk peers in reading and math. The analysis also measured students’ kindergarten readiness, as reported by teachers, and found that students with more risk factors were less likely to be ready for school in both academic and behavioral domains.
“There has not been an examination of children’s’ school readiness of this magnitude in more than 10 years and it’s important to us to understand the needs of children as they enter school,” said Jennifer Kotler Clarke, a vice president at Sesame Workshop. “Given the risk factors children face, which puts them at a disadvantage for school success, we are continuing to find ways to use our educational content to help change these outcomes.”

The analysis was performed by Mathematica Policy Research. It used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class for 2010-11, which follows a nationally representative sample of more than 18,000 kindergartners. The conclusions about children's readiness for kindergarten was based on a subset of about 10,000 children who were first-time kindergartners in 2010.