Opting Out of Database Disclosures
In addition to the Computer Adaptive Testing implemented heavily as part of the Common Core, private student information is being collected in databases. This information can consist of: a student’s name, address, email, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and/or dates of attendance. It can also include other information gathered from 3rd party websites used by the school.
Through the weakening of privacy protection laws and administrative ignorance, this information can be disclosed to 3rd party companies, even without parent consent. However, parents can protect some of this information through opting-out of various database disclosures.
Background and How to Opt-Out
Unfortunately, the multi-layered bureaucracy of the current education system means there are multiple elements in play and more than one step required to complete an opt-out. We summarize some of the main points involved below, but be certain to get the full details on the StudentPrivacyMatters.org website here: http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/.
FERPA is a federal law passed in 1974 to bar the disclosure of student records to third parties without parental consent. In recent years, however, the law has been substantially weakened such that information can now be disclosed for a variety of reasons without parental consent or even notification. A specific opt-out is required for those items pertaining to FERPA and a sample letter can be found here along with full details from Student Privacy Matters.org.
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) is another federal statute and applies to student surveys, instructional materials or evaluations funded specifically by the federal government that deal with highly sensitive issues (including but not limited to: Political affiliations, religion, mental and psychological problems, income, and others). The FERPA opt-out should apply here as well. Again, get full details from Student Privacy Matters.org.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has a primary goal of allowing parents to have control over what information is collected online from their children under age 13. The law applies to any operators of websites, online services (including web-based testing, programs, and apps) that collect, use, or disclose children's personal information.
The opt-out process for COPPA requires multiple steps and is different from that of FERPA and PPRA. Instructions for Opting-Out can be found here and be sure to get the full details from Student Privacy Matters.org.