Illinois Adds Safeguards For Student Data


(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A statewide group says parents have won a victory for greater control over the kinds of online information collected about their children and used by schools. Cassie Creswell of Illinois Families for Public Schools says that, with the way technology usage has increased in schools, data collected about students has grown, too. 

Schools have a ton of information about students and it's not just standardized test scores, she said.

"Everything from their purchases in cafeteria to their homework assignments to their standardized test scores. Sensitive information about their behavior and health," she said.

Gov. Pritzker signed legislation that amends the old Illinois Student Online Personal Protection Act and gives parents more control. Creswell says that, because of how long it will take to implement and get protections in place, the new law does not take effect until July 1, 2021.The original law, Creswell said, didn’t consider all of the safeguards and protections that may be necessary.

"Right now, parents aren’t really informed about what’s being collected, who has that data, who has access to it and what it’s being used for,” she said.

They will under the revised law. Also, parents must be told if there's a data breach within 30 days if the school suffered the breach and within 60 days if a third-party is responsible for the data leak."Districts are not going to be allowed to share data anymore unless there’s a written agreement with who they’re sharing it with,” Creswell said. “They’re also going to have to put out an inventory of what data elements they’re collecting on students and make that public."Catherine Francis, an Illinois Families for Public Schools board member, said times have changed.

“Educational records aren’t just in a locked file cabinet in the school office anymore. Parents need to have information and a real say in what happens to their child’s data when they enter the schoolhouse door.”