Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Big Data and Administrators: The Struggle to Store, Manage, and Analyze Big Data ... Safely

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Big Data and Administrators: The Struggle to Store, Manage, and Analyze Big Data ... Safely

Article excerpt

It's not hyperbole to suggest that schools and districts are drowning in data. And the tide is rising. As Nelson Heller, president of the HellerResults Group, points out, "Common Core alone will be creating massive volumes of student data needing analysis."

All of that data has the potential to positively inform decision-making in all areas of school instruction, administration, and operations--from individualizing student instruction to predicting enrollment and addressing student retention.

The benefits of big data have clearly not escaped school administrators. In a 2013 survey by the Center for Digital Education, 63 percent of K-12 administrators surveyed said that implementing data management and analytics solutions is a priority.

Yet, while all that data may offer valuable insight into a young person's academic career, it also presents a major challenge for I school and district leaders. Both school officials and parents alike have expressed concern about the issues of data security, student privacy, and parental consent for release of data. And, perhaps, with good cause.

Kathleen Styles, the U.S. Department of Education's first chief privacy officer, says the biggest issue related to the big data in K-12 education is that schools don't have rules or policies on "how much data to collect, how long to keep it, and who has access to it."

While student education records are supposedly secure and private, thanks to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), not everyone is so sure. Many believe that given the volume of data being generated, traditional security measures are not adequate to protect that data from being stolen, lost, modified, or otherwise obtained and distributed for inappropriate purposes.

As CERIAS, the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security at Purdue University, points out, "Unfortunately, K-12 educators and support staff are largely unaware of the threats and vulnerabilities associated with the information systems they use. …

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