Approved by NCTE Members Voting at the Annual Business Meeting for the
Board of Directors and Other Members of the Council, November 2015
Ratified by a Vote of the NCTE Membership, February 2016
Background: In 1995, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) issued the Resolution on Electronic Online Services in support of making online resources available to students. In 1998, NCTE issued the Resolution on Testing and Equitable Treatment of Students in support of students’ well-being in assessment development and administration.
In today’s digital age, the definition of privacy rights has shifted. As Congress considers major revisions to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 and related legislation, educators are coming to understand the complexity of students’ right to privacy—in and out of school. As students are tracked, traced, monitored, and scored with more intensity than ever, educators must remain informed advocates for their students’ privacy, security, and safety. Thus, we must work collaboratively to ensure that privacy rights and data safeguards are enacted to protect students and families in schools, colleges, and universities.
In spite of legal provisions, various publishing and assessment companies have released test results carelessly. It is the responsibility of education and state agencies that enter into assessment contracts to ensure the security of student records and assure schools and communities that they have done so. It is also important for educators to determine how student data should be used in an ethical, lawful, and responsible manner. Likewise, it is the ethical responsibility of private assessment companies to protect student data.
In light of recent breaches of student data, we can no longer ignore the urgency to advocate for students’ privacy rights and security which are vital to the integrity of literacy education. Be it therefore resolved that the National Council of Teachers of English
- affirm students’ right to educational data privacy;
- advocate for security of student data that reflects ethical, lawful, and responsible treatment in a digital age;
- raise awareness of legislation regarding students’ data privacy and security; and
- support families, communities, and educators as they work to strengthen privacy, security, and safety of student data.
This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.