Connecticut edtech chief details effort to meet strict student data law

After Connecticut passed new legislation last year for securing student data, the state’s standards rose to promote the nation’s best practices for protecting students. But, the improved standards created one significant challenge for districts — how to become compliant with the new legislation over a short period of time, Doug Casey, executive director of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, tells EdScoop TV.

In response, Casey worked with his team to develop an educational software hub that removes the burden of change from the state’s school districts and instead ensures that the responsibility for compliance begins with edtech vendors and operators.

The primary function of the hub is to reach a point of aggregation, Casey says. Through the educational software hub, the vendors designing edtech solutions are able to access thorough explanations of the new statute and its requirements. That same platform also enables school districts to access a list of software that complies with these requirements.

Complying with the new student data law wasn’t the only concern. Districts and state leaders in education were concerned it might also hamper innovation, or scare schools away from using new technologies.

“We really wanted to create a kind of ecosystem where the districts and operators could really understand the laws, work together to come into compliance, and much beyond that,” Casey says.

According to a survey Casey conducted last year, school districts were spending approximately 80,000 staff hours to research software and technology that conform to the state’s guidelines — in addition to even more time spent on additional compliance work.

In terms of return-on-investment, the educational software hub will eventually chip away at the indirect costs associated with compliance and create a more streamlined process to identify high-quality compliance software, according to Casey.

Casey and his team are excited to contribute to the development of educational technology as the state’s standards continue to evolve. Now that Connecticut is confirmed as a #GoOpen state, the commission is focused on choosing a new OER platform and providing a path to more standardized curricula across K-12 districts and higher education institutions.