Schools, Government Agencies Move to Share Student Data

The struggle to protect students’ privacy while making use of the data collected on them in school has for years been focused on the role of outside companies.

But while that debate has raged in Congress and statehouses across the country, K-12 school systems in more than a dozen cities and counties have quietly begun linking children’s educational records with data from other government agencies, covering everything from children’s mental-health status to their history of child-welfare placements and their involvement in the juvenile-justice system.

Proponents say that such intergovernmental “integrated data systems” can yield powerful insights that promote a more holistic understanding of children’s experiences. They point to an emerging track record of the information being used to improve policy, service delivery, and program evaluation.

Take, for example, Allegheny County, in southwestern Pennsylvania. After learning that 14,450 Pittsburgh public school students—more than half the district—had been involved in county human-services programs, officials there have worked to analyze the experiences of homeless students and children in foster care. They’ve initiated a new cross-sector effort to combat chronic absenteeism. Child-welfare caseworkers will soon receive weekly email alerts when children in their caseloads get suspended or miss multiple days of school. And district officials or school counselors and social workers could get similar notices when one of their students shows up in a homeless shelter, runs afoul of the law, or is moved from his or her child-welfare placement. Please click here to access the full article.

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