New student data security proposal emerges

Members of the House Education Committee introduced a resolution on Wednesday that would create a new committee in charge of scrutinizing student data collection.

Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, pushed for the resolution by arguing that a data security law passed last year by the Legislature does not allay many parents’ concerns.

Luker New
Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise

Luker also said the committee should explore how federal funding is connected to data collection and the cost of declining that funding.

“The point of (last year’s law) was to get us on the road to ensure student information is safeguarded and privacy is honored, but there is still considerable concern that it did not go far enough,” Luker said.

Luker’s resolution calls for appointing a committee that would have several responsibilities, including:

  • Determining which data points are necessary for tracking academic progress.
  • Studying which data points must be collected and reported in the aggregate.
  • Identifying which data points should be personally identifiable, and why that is the case.
  • Calculating the extent to which federal funding is contingent upon collecting and reporting student data to the federal government.
  • Determining the cost of declining such federal funding.
  • Delivering recommendations on simplifying and minimizing the collection of student data.
  • Recommending ways to protect student privacy by limiting personally identifiable data.

The resolution calls for the Legislative Council to appoint lawmakers to the committee. Additional nonvoting members will be appointed from outside the Legislature.

Members of the committee would be expected to deliver a report and, potentially, recommend legislation during next year’s session.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our weekly newsletter »

“This is a work still in progress and we need a form and a place for legislators and the public to have a little more time and study these issues,” Luker said.

Members of the House Education Committee voted to introduce Luker’s resolution following a short discussion.

Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, asked Luker whether there had ever been an incident of an Idaho student’s private data being released to a detrimental affect. Luker replied that he did not have that information.

Last year’s data privacy law created a penalty of up to $50,000 for any district or school that inappropriately releases student data.

In other action Wednesday, members of the House Education Committee also voted to introduce a new bill that would create scholarships for students who earn college credit while still in high school.

Kerby New
Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth

Republican Rep. Ryan Kerby, who is also superintendent of the New Plymouth School District, pushed the new scholarship bill. His proposal calls for providing a $2,000 college scholarship to students who earn at least 10 college credits and a $4,000 scholarship to students who earn at least 20 college credits while in high school.

Additionally, any student who earns an associate’s degree while in high school would be eligible for a full scholarship for tuition and fees.

Kerby said the goal of his bill is to increase the college go-on rate and support Idaho businesses looking to fill new jobs.

“We want more kids to go to Idaho colleges rather than so many of them going out of state,” Kerby said. “The reason for that is businesses tell us if they go to college in Idaho they are more likely to stay in Idaho to work.”

The scholarship would be available to public school students and valid for redemption at any public Idaho college or institution of higher learning.

Members of the House Education Committee agreed to introduce the bill, but several lawmakers expressed concern that the scholarships would not be available to students who are homeschooled or attend private schools.

”We have a constitutional responsibility to our public schools, and all of the scholarship money goes straight to public colleges and universities,” Kerby said.