Common Sense Media released free data security and privacy tools for districts; Schoolzilla earned top marks

The district CTO’s growing data privacy challenge:

According to the Teacher Knows Best survey of over 4,000 teachers, “Virtually all teachers (93 percent) now use some sort of digital tool to help guide instruction.” Given education technology tools’ sudden rise to near ubiquity, it is not surprising that “for the fourth straight year, state legislatures have passed bills to protect student data privacy, bringing the total number of laws on the books to 74.” (Center for Digital Education, 2016). District technology leaders (e.g., CTOs) are stretched to keep up with the pace of demand for new tools that unlock the potential of personalized learning and data-driven decision-making while also working to maintain the safety and privacy of student data.

New resources to help districts CTOs keep students safe:

Common Sense Media (CMS), the nation’s leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering kids to thrive in a world of media and technology, has developed tools to help districts evaluate providers and keep student data safe as they work to adopt new technologies. School districts can now use CMS’s comprehensive privacy evaluation tool for assessing education technology providers.  We were excited to learn that Schoolzilla earned top marks across all four categories of their privacy evaluation!

About CSM’s Privacy Evaluations:

Common Sense Media’s privacy evaluation effort, which involved almost 100 school systems in the evaluation process, includes privacy assessments on over 150 education technology applications. Vendors are evaluated on 4 dimensions that are key to keeping students and their data safe:

  • SAFETY – takes into consideration best practices that protect a user’s physical and emotional health.
  • PRIVACY – takes into consideration best practices that protect the disclosure of a user’s personal information.
  • SECURITY – takes into consideration best practices that protect the integrity and confidentiality of a user’s data.
  • COMPLIANCE – takes into consideration best practices of companies that collect personal information from children or students and the legal obligations for the privacy and security of that information.

5 ways to use CSM’s resources to keep your students’ data safe:

Whether your vendors are among the 150 who have been evaluated or not, there are multiple ways that you can leverage CSM’s resources to protect student data.

  1. Review the Information Security Primer for Evaluating Educational Software to learn more about how to best evaluate the security and privacy of technology providers.
  2. Look up your current technology providers or providers you are considering to see if they’ve been reviewed and how they scored in the privacy evaluation tool.
  3. Incorporate the privacy evaluation questions into your next RFP and/or vendor due diligence efforts.
  4. Bring CSM’s questions to your next contract renewal discussion with a technology provider for your district.
  5. Join the consortium of nearly 100 schools and districts that are working in the United States to help streamline the process of evaluating privacy policies for edtech apps.