Bill on use of student data heads to public hearing

Gun ownership, religious affiliation among data considered off-limits.

(Idaho Falls) Post RegisterFebruary 6, 2014 

John Goedde

With no resistance from the Senate Education Committee, Sen. John Goedde on Wednesday took the first steps to introduce legislation protecting the privacy of student data collected by school districts — a major concern of those who oppose the Idaho Core Standards.

The Coeur d’Alene Republican and committee chairman said the legislation mimics efforts in states such as Oklahoma to protect student data. Stakeholder groups, the Idaho Department of Education and State Board of Education have commented on the legislation, he said. The next step is to bring the bill before the committee for a public hearing.

“This is a large bill, and it’s going to take some time to study,” Goedde told the committee. “I would hope we would print this and give us that time.”

The legislation outlines what student data will be collected, including credits earned, transcript information, date of birth, course grades and drop-out information. More important to many critics of Common Core, it also outlines what student data will not be collected: juvenile delinquency or criminal records, medical and health records, gun ownership, sexual orientation or religious affiliations of the students or their families.

“It is the intent of the Legislature to help ensure that student information is safeguarded and that privacy is honored, respected and protected,” the bill states.

However, the bill also acknowledges that student information is a “vital resource for teachers and school staff” for planning education programs, scheduling for students in classes and compiling reports for educational agencies.

The bill outlines several areas of data collection, including:

- Providing definitions and parameters on types of data that can be collected.

- Developing procedures for information sharing, including a mandate that the State Board of Education will be required to develop a model policy for districts.

- Deeming what data will remain confidential and not be transferred to any federal, state or local agency unless it meets outlined exceptions.

- Requiring school districts to provide parents copies of all of their child’s educational records upon request

The bill provides that if unauthorized student data is released, the State Board of Education or Idaho Department of Education will notify the parent or student. Any person who makes an unauthorized release of student data may face a fine up to $50,000 under the legislation.

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