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 All members of Mayor Keller’s task force are committed to improving Grand City’s educational system and community from the perspective representative of his or her institution, role, or specialized expertise. The Grand City community at large is excited about the work being done and proposed by the task force 

8 Kappan February 2015

Parents need access to
education data —

and need to know it’s secure

Privacy and school data

K1502_February.indd 8 12/19/14 10:30 AM

V96 N5 kappanmagazine.org 9

Parents like data — when they know what
they are and how they’re being used — and
feel confi dent that they’re being kept private
and secure.

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Illustration: Thinkstock/iStock

E veryone with a stake in education — espe-
cially parents — should understand the value
of data and how it can benefi t their families.
We know getting the right information into

the right hands at the right time can make a world
of difference for America’s students. But most peo-
ple aren’t hearing from their schools, districts, and
states about how those data are being used. In fact,
most parents hear “education data” and immediately
think of test scores — and only test scores. While
test results are an important piece of the data puzzle,
they’re just one kind of information. What about
teacher credentials and graduation rates? Or college
enrollment and student growth over time? Not to
mention the information schools use to keep buses
running on time and hot meals coming through the
lunch line. These types and uses of data are valuable,
and parents should be aware of all the work that’s
happening with them.

Parents like data — when they know what they are
and how they’re being used — and feel confi dent
that they’re being kept private and secure. That’s
what the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) learned last
spring when we convened parents of school-age chil-
dren in Philadelphia, Phoenix, Kansas City, and Se-
attle to talk about their concerns with the education
system. The problem is most parents don’t know ex-
actly what education data are. Who can blame them?

Trust through transparency
Most parents trust their children’s teachers and

school districts. This was borne out in the most
recent PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes
Toward the Public Schools, which found that 64%
of the public has trust and confi dence in America’s
public school teachers (Bushaw & Calderon, 2014).
We need educators and schools to put that trust to
work, sharing with parents the full who, what, why,
when, and how of data use. This kind of transparency

is crucial to parents’ ability to understand how this
information can be used to benefi t their child — and
how it’s being kept private, secure, and confi dential.
Without this information, people can’t trust that
their children’s data are safe. And parents won’t al-
low schools to use data if they don’t trust that they’re
being kept safe.

Educators shouldn’t be alarmed by the important
conversation about using student data and how data
are being safeguarded. There is s

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