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Schools keep track of students' online behavior, but do parents even know?

Taylor Armerding | Nov. 5, 2014
Schools have always 'watched' students. But the collection of data on children is now at unprecedented levels, and experts say most parents aren’t even aware of it.

Still, he also cautions against an overreaction in the form of legislation or regulations that might hamstring schools' ability to provide the best possible education.

Cohen agreed, saying parents should have control over data collected on their children that goes beyond educational or administrative purposes. But he believes they should not be able to block data collection if it would, "effectively interfere with the functioning of the school."

Polonetsky made a similar point, saying FPF supports the collection of data on students that, "are needed to help educate (them) and measure performance."

An FPF white paper coauthored by Polonetsky titled "Student Data: Trust, Transparency and the Role of Consent" argues that even parental choice, "may do little to actually protect student privacy, since data policies can be too complex for some to understand.

Parents who choose to opt out, "could end up unintentionally excluding their children from critical services necessary for their education," it said.

Cohen added that while he doesn't believe schools should "meddle in students' private interactions outside of the classroom," he thinks if schools discover something that, "has the real possibility of affecting student safety at the school, the school should have the right to act."


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