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2024 EWA Caucus on Student Data Privacy: An Online Community

EWA is offering a caucus for journalists interested in better reporting on student data privacy. The deadline to apply is Dec. 22 at noon Eastern

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School districts are not only expected to educate students but also must track student progress through grades and test scores, monitor attendance, offer special education services, and keep tabs on home addresses and other personal information, among other things. 

All of this falls under student data. 

At the same time, schools are increasingly relying on new education technologies, especially in the age of pandemic recovery. School systems have spent millions of dollars in federal-relief funds on technology for computer apps, tutoring, games and other services. Beyond learning tools, schools are also spending money on surveillance technology. Districts are working with companies to track online activity, monitor social media and filter content. Advocates for the surveillance technology argue it helps keep students safe, but recent reports show that is not necessarily the case – and in fact can compromise sensitive data. 

The Education Writers Association is offering an opportunity for journalists interested in understanding the many layers of student data privacy. We invite journalist members to apply for the second EWA Caucus on Student Data Privacy, an online reporting community. From January through June, participants will meet monthly to build their knowledge and expertise on the topic, gaining insights from fellow journalists and national experts. 

Participants in the 2023 caucus heard from experts, such as Amelia Vance of the Future of Privacy Forum on the legal landscape and digital privacy legislation; Mark Keierleber of The 74 on investigating technology companies with school safety and civil rights top of mind; Marika Pfefferkorn of Twin Cities Innovation Alliance on finding the balanced partnership between parents, schools and predictive analytics. 

The EWA Caucus on Student Data Privacy will examine the issue from a variety of perspectives. As part of this online reporting community, journalists will learn which laws and policies cover student data, how to report on security breaches at local school districts and why it matters that the information collected by districts disproportionately and negatively affects students of color.  

This program is intended for journalists with some experience covering education, preferably at least two years. We welcome 2023 caucus members to participate again, as new speakers and topics will be featured. The deadline to apply for next year’s caucus is Dec. 22 at noon Eastern.