Data Privacy Resources for 2021 and Beyond

Over the past year, classrooms in Illinois and around the world have become more and more reliant on digital resources to safely and successfully facilitate instruction. While remote and hybrid learning continues for many students, one important issue relating to digital learning deserves more attention – data privacy.

In short, data privacy describes the practice of prioritizing the secure maintenance and transfer of personally identifiable information within a digital network. When it comes to today’s students, this can include everything from their name and age to their grades and discipline record. Many educational apps and websites are able to collect this kind of information with minimal notice, making it essential for schools to know where their students’ data is being stored and when it is being accessed.

Current federal laws require schools to safeguard this type of information and prevent its unauthorized disclosure. In Illinois, new legislation known as the Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA) will strengthen these requirements and establish new standards for maintaining student data privacy in the digital realm.

On July 1, 2021, all Illinois schools will be required to comply with SOPPA’s data maintenance standards. As this date approaches, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is committed to supporting schools while they upgrade their student data privacy policies. This includes providing your district with timely, actionable information that can support your efforts toward full SOPPA compliance.

In recognition of Data Privacy Day, we want to highlight a few of the data privacy resources we already offer. As the year goes on, we’ll be adding even more useful resources, as well. So, don’t forget to check our data privacy and cybersecurity homepages on a regular basis! 

Data Privacy Resources

Student Data Privacy Laws Overview

This legislation brief outlines many of the most important student data privacy laws currently on the books, both at the state and federal level. This is a great place to start if you want an idea of the current state of legally-mandated student data protection.

Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA) Overview

This legislation brief focuses on the details of Illinois’ latest amendments to the Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA). This brief includes information on data types covered by SOPPA as well as its larger impact on school districts.

Implementing SOPPA FAQ

Based upon feedback from Illinois school districts, this FAQ covers many of the most pressing components of SOPPA. In particular, this FAQ outlines the role teachers, vendors, and management all play in maintaining SOPPA compliance, as well as the ways in which existing privacy agreements are impacted by SOPPA.

43 Reasonable Security Practices Aligned to SOPPA

This list of action items is a great starting point for schools that want to upgrade their current student data privacy regimen. Using these practices – all of which have been vetted by data security professionals – Illinois schools can ease their way into SOPPA compliance during 2021 and beyond.

Cybersecurity for Administrators and Educators

This pair of online courses offer administrators and educators a focused look at today’s best practices for securing student data and more. These courses are free and self-guided, so participants can enroll at any time and complete course material at their own pace.

All Things SOPPA

Starting February 9, the LTC’s Chris Wherley will host a weekly online chat focused entirely on helping tech leaders and administrators achieve SOPPA compliance. These weekly discussions are open to anyone with a stake in student data policy and will provide participants with a chance to obtain answers to their situation-specific questions.

Illinois Student Privacy Alliance

The Illinois Student Privacy Alliance (ISPA) is a free consortium that allows school districts to access management tools and resources for data privacy agreements. When used in conjunction with clear policies and procedures, ISPA allows districts to comply with Illinois’ new Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA). Membership in ISPA is free to Illinois school districts.

Learn More about Student Data Privacy

Interested in learning more about student data privacy? The LTC’s knowledgeable team is here to support you as you strive to create lasting, impactful policy decisions. Contact the LTC’s Chris Wherley at cwherley@ltcillinois.org to learn more.