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Student Data Privacy: Is non-compliance worth the risk?

Student Data Privacy Awareness is Growing

As recently discussed at the 2019 ISTE Conference in Phila, Kim Nesmith, Louisiana Department of Education ed tech, pointed out that there have been rapid changes in technology nationwide, leading to different tools and solutions available to protect student data. At the same time, she said, hundreds of school safety bills and guidelines across safety commissions, boards, and state legislatures are being circulated, some of which push for increased student surveillance.

What Could Happen if You Don’t Comply?

What exactly are the consequences if you aren’t so diligent?  In Louisiana, there is a hefty financial penalty or prison time for anyone that collects personal student data and personally identifiable information (“PII”) since a student data privacy law passed there a few years ago. That makes things very challenging.  The upside is it creates an awareness of protecting students’ privacy and how important it really is but then the downside is facing an uphill climb when trying to manage information.  In this state, if you download an app or create an online account providing PII on a site, you are open to consequences.  Currently, Louisiana is the only state that has such harsh restriction Continue reading Student Data Privacy: Is non-compliance worth the risk?

Millions of Students Have No Home Internet Access

Not every family or student has access to the internet at home.

Are students and parents at a disadvantage due to communication barriers?

Let’s take a look: In 2015, the Pew Research Center analyzed data from studies on internet access and found that the problem is mainly in low-income families.  Among households with an annual income under $50,000, 31.4% don’t have broadband internet access. For households with an annual income of over $50,000, the number is much smaller—only 8.4% lack access to broadband internet.  In addition to lower-income families, it has been found that minority students are also at an internet ‘disadvantage’. Continue reading Millions of Students Have No Home Internet Access

The U.S. Department of Education is using Cloud Computing Software

What has motivated the US Department of Education (DoE),  to use cloud computing software?

The DoE has begun storing confidential and sensitive education documents via the “cloud” for several reasons.  There is mounting pressure to keep private student data private.  Financially, it also makes sense. While cloud-based services are not required of each institution within each state, any district implementing such a system would save time, money and other resources.  Since truly personal information is housed at the institutional level, secure cloud computing services would guarantee the safety of that information, as well as its accuracy for future funding plans. Continue reading The U.S. Department of Education is using Cloud Computing Software

4-Day School Week: Weighing in the Pros and Cons

The concept of the 4-day school week is in play around the country.  Some school districts have made the change while some are in trial runs.  It sounds like a great idea.  But is it?

25% of US School Districts have in some way have switched to a shorter ‘work‘ week.  This could be a no brainer method to save money on building utilities, transportation costs and more.  As the saying goes, all clouds have a silver lining.  But does this silver lining have a cloud?

Let’s start with the Pros

  • Shorter week means more rest for students and staff
  • More restful students, teachers, and other staff means less stress = more productivity
  • Less need for transportation (less expense)
  • Decreases food costs
  • More time for students to study
  • The 5th day can be an option for teachers to take a class or schedule parent/teacher conferences

Continue reading 4-Day School Week: Weighing in the Pros and Cons

Classroom Size Reduction (CSR): Do smaller classrooms correlate to higher achievement?

Do classroom size reduction, (CSR) programs help students?

This topic has been highly analyzed and debated for decades; do smaller classrooms correlate to higher achievement? In reference to Schanzenbach, D. W. (2014), “Does Class Size Matter?”, it’s been stated that size DOES matter, especially with mid to lower-income students.  CSR has been associated with lowering the achievement gap in students.  It’s also been instrumental in recruiting efforts.  Teachers with a well-prepared plan will see better results in CSR. Continue reading Classroom Size Reduction (CSR): Do smaller classrooms correlate to higher achievement?

2-Factor Authentication: Should my district adopt this data security measure?

Many districts are adopting a 2-factor authentication process.  Why?

We all know what cybersecurity means.  Today, passwords for sensitive data is just not enough.  To avoid legal penalties and protect their districts’ privacy, education data managers must make data privacy a priority.  There are federal and state data protection policies administrators must follow that to protect student data privacy.  A strong strategy for cybersecurity will always include implementing two-factor authentication for all users.

Continue reading 2-Factor Authentication: Should my district adopt this data security measure?

Cyber and Physical Security in Schools – What should you be thinking about?

The topic of school security is growing more visible nationwide and the pressure is mounting to implement viable solutions to cyber and physical threats.

If there’s room in the budget for a security solution, should you spread the funds between physical security options and cyber-security prevention?  Both areas are of massive importance.  No matter what or when you implement a security measure, in order for it to be effective and successful, there should be a process in place for thorough training to everyone involved.  The need to adhere to safety procedures is instrumental in avoiding a dangerous infringement to your entire districts’ records.  All processes need to be monitored. Continue reading Cyber and Physical Security in Schools – What should you be thinking about?

a boss shakes the hand of a new-hire

Customer Service in an Education Setting – Why it Works

School districts can benefit from taking a customer service approach to interactions with parents and staff to improve collaboration and communication.  This article starts to ask questions such as:

  • What does customer service look like in an educational setting?
  • What techniques should you utilize to implement this methodology in your district?
  • What steps can you take to avoid falling into the poor customer service trap?

Continue reading Customer Service in an Education Setting – Why it Works

Student Poverty and Education

According to the National Center for Children Living in Poverty, about 15 million children in the United States today are living in poverty. Many of them are not getting the education that others in thriving cities and states are receiving.

Are poorer students getting less than stellar education?

It has been reported that in lower income neighborhoods, less privileged students receive less education due to being assigned underachieving teachers with lower expectations all around. Oftentimes, lower-income school districts do no receive their fare share and are just struggling to get the basic supplies. Funding to low-income schools has been dwindling since 2010 and more than a few states have cut pre-K educational per student funding in recent years and as a result are seeing lower enrollment numbers. Extremely poor school districts in struggling cities are forced to pull funds from other areas which further worsens the problem.

Another aspect that poorer students are faced with is the lack of funds to put towards field trips and after school or sport activities. Consider how much being exposed to new places and people have taught you things you otherwise would not have seen, touched, observed?

But the economy is improving

As the economy improves, school districts are still feeling tugs at their purse strings. Make no mistake about it, the economy is doing better, so why not put more focus on fixing our impoverished school districts and provide everyone the quality education they deserve?

What Happened to Meritocracy – Bribery in US Schools

The rich and famous have always had a leg up on the best seats at first-class restaurants, high profile baseball games, and concerts.  None of us are immune to feeling the disgust as to the unfairness the almighty dollar causes in everyday life.  Wealthy Americans have been using monetary donations to get their kids into the best schools for years.  We all are aware of fraud, bribery, nepotism in corporate America yet when it comes to education, we don’t hear as much about the unfair act of bribery.

The recent news of this issue has shed much light on this unfair practice.  The act of dishonestly insights hatred to the highly respectable and hardworking students, teachers, and universities that do play fair.  The honest actors, students, business leaders, teachers and coaches have to feel the black eye of scrutiny.

 Address Fraud

Another issue today in schools is the practice of address fraud.  When parents are dishonest about where they and their children live and provide false proof of residency documents, they are risking felony for records tampering.  This practice causes lack of trust in the school district and poor morale of parents that play by the rules.   The effects of address fraud are far-reaching.  In the end it costs everyone involved.


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