Daniel Ralyea, Director of the Office of Research and Data Analysis, South Carolina Department of Education
South Carolina Prioritizes Student Data Privacy and Equitable Access to Resources
As a state department of education, part of our mission is to find efficient ways to support the diverse needs of our unique districts, schools, and students. To do that, we look for solutions we can tailor for our districts without adding to the already heavy workload of educators.
Identifying secure resources
One of the challenges districts across the country face is finding secure resources that benefit teaching and learning while protecting student data privacy.
The size of their district should not determine a student’s online security. While large districts may have multiple trained personnel to vet and implement different educational tools, smaller districts may only have a few, or sometimes only one IT person. That employee may have their hands full with technical support and still be burdened with reading contracts and legal procurement procedures for the use of applications.
Add to that the teachers Googling curriculum materials to supplement their lessons, and the quality of education a student receives becomes dependent on an educator’s technical skills rather than their teaching abilities.
These practices were not equitable or sustainable as digital learning became more and more prevalent in our schools.
Leveling the playing field
To help level the playing field for our students, educators, and staff, South Carolina’s Department of Education acquired 1EdTech memberships for 82 Local Education Agencies (public school districts, state schools, and charter districts).
The primary goals of the memberships are to:
Support technology initiatives as the districts moved to the digital space
Integrate platforms and tools to help make it easier for teachers to access high-quality resources regardless of technical knowledge
Vet applications, so educators, students, and families are aware of a tool’s privacy rating based on the 1EdTech data privacy rubric
Help ensure an overall secure digital experience
This allows us to have a minimum expectation for the quality and security of resources for all students in South Carolina.
I also take heart knowing that people working in education, including K-12, created the vetting rubric. They know what is important when it comes to student privacy and security, so we know they are accounting for the same concerns we have.
Making a difference
As more of our districts sign on and take advantage of these resources, we hear stories about how it makes a difference.
1EdTech has more than 7,000 (and counting) applications vetted for student data privacy. Without much extra work, our districts can review and compare the various resources available to them.
As soon as a district activates its membership, the administration can start building a curated list of approved applications for use in classrooms. If an educator has a tool in mind, there is transparency to the application’s privacy policies and rubric results.
It’s an effective and efficient way to improve choice and provide equitable resources to our students now and into the future.