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New York Regents to discuss data privacy, assessments at first 2019 meeting

The New York State capitol.
The New York State capitol.
Chalkbeat file photo

New York’s education policymakers are gathering this week for the first time this year to discuss changing data privacy regulations and extending a rule that keeps state test scores in English and math off of student transcripts.

On Monday, the Regents will consider a one-year extension of a law that prohibits school districts from publishing the scores from the third through eighth grades on students’ transcripts.

The law, first enacted in 2014, expired on Dec. 31, 2018. Regulatory changes are needed to finalize an extension, which passed last year, state officials say in their memo to the Regents.

The board will also discuss proposed additions to data privacy rules, developed with help from the Data Privacy Advisory Council. The council, created in 2017, includes representatives from education advocacy groups, the state teachers union, and school technology professionals.

Among the changes are several clarifications on what sort of obligations third-party contractors are under to ensure data security and student privacy, specifically when handling students’ personal identifiable information. Last January, a data breach compromised the personal information of at least 52 New York students, which state officials blamed on private testing vendor Questar Assessment, Inc., which faced additional problems last year.

The changes would also require employees who handle students’ personal information to partake in annual data security and privacy training. The Regents’ work group on Standards and Assessments will also meet, though an agenda still wasn’t available as of Sunday evening. The work group is convening as the Regents plan to formally extend a moratorium that severs certain state assessments from teacher evaluations. Education officials are developing separate work groups to explore what teacher evaluations should look like in the future. With both houses of the state legislature now in Democratic hands, lawmakers seem ready to pass a law resolving the issue this year.

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