Making Progress on Data Privacy

In schools across the country now is the time for celebration of success. Whether it is students who are moving to a next grade-level or students who are moving on to college or work. In that spirit, I’d like to celebrate the success that the entire ed-tech community has experienced the past year around an issue that seemed to have come out of nowhere but is nonetheless critical. That issue is the privacy and security of student (and staff) data.

It would be easy to look at the situation around privacy of student data from the glass is half empty perspective. After all, there is much work to do in many school districts, as well as many online service providers. State governments have passed a large number of related bills, some of which may have unintended consequences that are annoying at best. But let’s consider what positives have happened.

  • CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) released version 1 of its extensive privacy toolkit a little over a year ago and has since delivered version 2 in September 2014. It’s free to download and has many great resources such as a COPPA & FERPA decision guide, Suggested Terms for Contracts, Security Questions to Ask an Online Service Provider, 10 Steps Every School District Can Take and an infographic produced by CoSN and NSPRA (National School Public Relations Association) about talking to parents about privacy.
  • The FPF (Future of Privacy Forum) and SIIA (Software & Information Industry Association), with considerable input from other organizations, developed the Student Privacy Pledge which has been endorsed by President Obama. 139 companies have signed the pledge, including many of the most prominent online service providers in ed-tech.  If you are not familiar with the pledge you really need to take a look at it. It’s a big deal. It can be found at The FPF also maintains a kind of one stop website for privacy resources at
  • A few months ago CoSN and DQC (Data Quality Campaign) decided it was time to rally the many education associations to come to consensus around guiding principles for protecting student data. This was an unprecedented effort and has resulted in organizations such as AASA, AFT, NEA, NSBA, ASBO, AASL, CCSSO, ISTE, iNACOL, SETDA and many more fully endorsing the principles. The full list is jaw-dropping. See more at
  • The final thing I will mention is that entrepreneurs have seen that privacy might be a business opportunity to them and I know of at least 4 that are in start-up mode or better than have solutions that will help districts manage the privacy issue. I’m a big fan of private sector solutions!

So there has been much progress, but much more work is needed at all levels (local, state and federal) and among all stakeholders. I’m proud to have been involved in much of the work and it is heartening to see the education community coming together around this important issue. In the coming weeks, CoSN will be announcing an initiative that is made possible by two very prominent foundations. The effort will center on schools and promises to be a game-changer in terms of parents knowing that their student’s data are protected in a Trusted Learning Environment.

Bob Moore has enjoyed a career of 26 years in education technology. His work has included more than two decades as a CIO in K12 schools and several years as lead strategist for a multi-billion dollar global ed-tech business, as well many years of active leadership in organizations such as CoSN. In 2012 Bob founded RJM Strategies LLC and works with schools and ed-tech business clients as a strategist, advisor and subject matter expert. His life’s work is grounded in his tenacious commitment to vision, innovation, integrity and practicality. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMEdTech. See Bob's Profile and Connect on LinkedIn at

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