5 Strategies for Managing K-12 Student Data Privacy

5 Strategies for Managing K-12 Student Data Privacy

The rapidly expanding integration of technology in classrooms raises critical concerns about student data privacy. School IT leaders and district administrators are recognizing the urgency to implement robust strategies that safeguard sensitive information and mitigate the risks associated with data breaches. This article explores the top five strategies for managing K-12 student data privacy.

Secure Data Exchange

One of the biggest risks to student data privacy is traditional rostering. Traditional rostering creates multiple iterations of student data for each individual edtech vendor the school uses. While that used to be an almost-management with 30 or so vendors (which is still too many copies of PII outside of the school’s control) today’s schools work with roughly 1,300 different edtech vendors. It’s an unacceptable risk to continue using traditional rostering, especially when more secure data exchange is readily available.

Enhanced Cybersecurity Measures

In just the first half of 2023, there were more than 85 cyberattacks impacting schools. Proactively addressing cybersecurity risk is essential to protecting student data privacy. These measures include: encryption of sensitive information, secure user authentication processes, and regular security audits. Educational institutions must invest in advanced cybersecurity technologies to protect student data from unauthorized access and potential breaches. By adopting a multi-layered security approach, schools and universities can create a strong defense against cyber threats.

Data Privacy Awareness and Training

Awareness and training create resiliency within the educational institution and offers another layer of protection against potential cyber threats. It’s not just teachers and staff who need to be educated about data privacy; students need to understand the inherent risks they face when sharing information online. Everyone plays a part in ensuring data privacy. The U.S. Department of Education offers guidelines for awareness and training in schools. Download the PDF here. GG4L offers a Certified Data Privacy Administrator Program for school IT leaders that leads to a certificate in data privacy. Learn more and sign up today. By fostering a culture of awareness, schools can empower their community to actively participate in safeguarding their data.

Improved Data Governance

Unlike traditional rostering services in the industry or privacy policies loaded with promises, GG4L’s School Passport empowers EdTech apps without the need to share student data. School Passport’s Data Governance platform includes dashboards and reports that allow school leaders to not only see what data is being used by edtech vendors but to take action within the platform’s control console. By categorizing and prioritizing the data privacy risk according to customized rules developed by the school during onboarding, schools can have much more sophisticated and nuanced control over how student data is shared.

Anonymized Data Exchange

One of the most important strategies in protecting student data privacy in K-12 schools is the commitment by schools to move away from traditional rostering systems. Rostering, which involves the creation and management of student profiles and class assignments, poses significant challenges in terms of data privacy and security. Enterprises like GG4L are advocating for a move towards anonymized data exchange. This revolutionary approach involves stripping personally identifiable information (PII) from the data shared between schools and edtech providers, minimizing the risk of data breaches.

Managing student data privacy requires a combination of technological, educational, and policy-driven strategies. Prioritizing student data privacy not only safeguards sensitive information but also fosters a culture of trust and accountability within the educational ecosystem. As a public benefit corporation dedicated to data privacy and a revolutionary new way to provide secure data integration, we are proud to sign the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency SecurebyDesign pledge.

Learn more about our product School Passport.


Additional Resources

CoSN’s Protecting Privacy Toolkit

1EdTech Consortium Trusted Apps Vetting

PTAC’s Checklist for Developing School District Privacy Programs

GG4L PII Shield

National Forum on Education Statistics Guide to Education Data Privacy

The Trusted Learning Environment (TLE) Seal

GG4L - The Global Grid 4 Learning

School Passport is a data exchange platform that exchanges any data with any EdTech product, eliminates the need to share student PII and is easy to implement for schools and vendors.


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