NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More at Risk than Low Test Scores When Taking the SAT

March 27, 2015

SAT test administrators go to great lengths to keep the playing field level for students across the nation. Students sign agreements to refrain from discussing questions with each other, parents, friend or teachers; adults monitor the classroom and halls for discussion during the tests; phones are turned off and placed at the front of the room.

Yet over the past few years, testing companies have begun monitoring students' social media accounts looking for test question leaks. In addition to the testing companies themselves, a whole industry has popped up whose express intent is to collect vast quantities of data on students' attitudes, activities, habits and schedule.

Compound this with the massive amounts of data that online education tools collect on children, and it paints a startling picture: Educators are allowing companies to collect invasive, intimate data on American students, and there is very little information available on how that data is used.

While the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects student test scores and basic records, it does nothing to protect anything outside of the student's official education record.

A new bill, the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015, is seeking to fix that. Though the official bill has not been released, it aims to keep institutions from selling student data and protect children's privacy.

Opponents of the bill say it does not go far enough. Loopholes leave room for student data to continue to be sold, and there is no option for parents to opt out of having data collected on their child.

Source: Megan Simons, "The Right to Privacy or the Right to Piracy?" National Center for Policy Analysis, March 26, 2015.


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