Recap: School Data Study Committee Holds Second Meeting

thiesfeldtThe Legislative Council Study Committee on School Data, chaired by state Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), held its second meeting on Tuesday, August 16.  Margaret Murphy of the Neenah School Board is a public member of the committee.

The study committee members heard presentations from information security officials from the Department of Administration (DOA), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and several private student data organizations.

The DOA officials gave an overview of the State’s data security procedures and guard against data breaches.  They explained how they must remain vigilant to constant attempts to get into their system which is not unique and is the case for every state in the country.  Wisconsin has the advantage of having only one centralized data center that makes it easier to protect than other states with multiple different data centers.

DPI representatives responded to questions posed during the first meeting and continued their discussion detailing what data they collect, how it is used to improve outcomes and inform policy decisions, as well as their student privacy protocols and data security measures.

The Data Quality Campaign, a national non-profit advocacy organization that promotes education data policy and use, gave a presentation on strategies for using data and keeping it secure.  They presented information on what data parents most want as well as a national landscape on student data laws in other states.

Lastly, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a non-partisan research organization that focuses on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues,  described how the current regulatory framework encourages mass collection of student records, discussed the privacy risks that students today face, underscored the need for data security safeguards, and made recommendations that Wisconsin adopt to ensure student privacy in the digital age.

The Study Committee is directed to review all student data gathered by the DPI and the data security measures that protect student privacy. The committee will study whether the data is required by federal law, state statute, or administrative rule and the purposes for which the data is utilized, and consider developing legislation to limit the types of student data collected by DPI and to improve the security of that data.

All materials from the presentation materials, video/audio links to the meetings, agendas, committee membership, etc. can be found on the study committee’s website. The next meeting is scheduled for September 14.