Trends in Teacher Evaluation: At A Glance

Leave a comment


Trends in Teacher Evaluation: At A Glance

For decades, teacher evaluations were little more than a bureaucratic exercise that failed to recognize either excellence or mediocrity in teaching. As such, evaluation represented a missed opportunity for giving teachers valuable feedback that could help them improve their practice.

Increasingly, this is no longer the case. Since 2009, over two-thirds of states have made significant changes to how teachers are evaluated. For most states, the change was motivated by incentives available through the federal programs Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind waivers, and Teacher Incentive Fund. State applications for these funds earned additional credit for upgrading teacher evaluation systems so they take place annually and are based in part on student achievement (Bornfreund, 2013). Other states revamped their systems in response to new political leadership. Regardless of the reason, the end was the same: in most states, teacher performance will now be judged for its impact on student learning alongside traditional measures such as classroom observations, lesson plan reviews and others. Combined, these measures make for more accurate evaluations and serves as a tool for continuous improvement.

The changes states are instituting are far from minor. The most dramatic and controversial is the inclusion of student achievement measures in teacher evaluation. The way student achievement data is used, however, varies significantly by state. For example:

  • Most states use student scores from state standardized tests, but many also combine this data with measures such as student learning objectives (SLO), formative assessments, or some other indicator of student achievement.
  • States use different statistical methods for attributing student learning to teacher performance. The most widely used models are value-added and student growth percentiles (SGP), both of which attempt to measure student gains so that the system doesn’t unfairly disadvantage teachers whose students were low-performers when they entered their classrooms.
  • Student achievement data comprises only part of teachers’ overall evaluation score. In no state does it count for more than half; in several states it’s considerably less.
While linking student achievement to teachers is certainly groundbreaking, nearly every state is revamping how classroom observations are conducted, too. Gone are the days when a principal sits in on a teacher’s class every couple years, armed with a checklist of instructional requirements that rarely were associated with high quality instructional practices. In contrast, teachers are now being observed every year — and for many, multiple times a year — by trained evaluators using a researched-based rubric that more accurately judges instructional effectiveness. More importantly, the new classroom observations provide more useful feedback to teachers.

Student achievement and classroom observations are not the only measures used to evaluate teachers. Student/parent surveys, lesson plan reviews, teacher self-reflections and student artifacts are just some of the other measures included in teacher evaluation systems. In most states, districts have wide discretion on which measures to include along with student achievement and classroom observations. Each of these measures has their strengths in providing teacher’s valuable feedback about their instructional practices. There is less evidence, however, that they accurately predict teachers’ impact on student learning. The exception is student surveys. In fact, a recent study by the Gates Foundation found that a high-quality researched-based student survey can accurately measure a teacher’s future effectiveness and can enhance the accuracy of an evaluation system when combined with measures of student achievement and classroom observations.

Keep in mind that identifying teacher effectiveness is a relatively new concept and no system will be perfect. But by examining the different approaches states have taken, state and local education leaders can learn from each other to refine and improve their own systems.

Across states we found:

  • Forty-seven states require or recommend that stakeholders, including teachers, provide input into the design of new evaluation systems. Such input is important to gaining broad-based support.
  • Forty-six states require or recommend that evaluations include measures on how teachers impact their students’ achievement.
  • Classroom observations are a component of every state’s evaluation system; about a third (33) of them require or recommend all teachers be observed at least once a year.
  • Forty-one states require or recommend teachers be evaluated on multiple measures as a more complete and accurate gauge of performance.  No state evaluates teachers on test scores alone.
  • Most states are primarily focused on using evaluation for the purpose of raising teacher performance but also use the results to inform personnel decisions.
    • More than half (31) of states use evaluation results to target professional development opportunities for individual teachers.
    • Teachers can be dismissed due to poor evaluations in 32 states. However, typically teachers are not eligible to be dismissed until they have been rated as low-performing over multiple years and only after being provided interventions to improve. Even if the teacher fails to improve, in most states the decision to dismiss is left up to the discretion of the school district.
  • Local school districts need flexibility in designing and implementing teacher evaluation systems so they are aligned to the needs of the district. But they also need strong support from their states.
  • Seventeen states provide districts flexibility as well as support in developing evaluations systems while 21 states leave almost all the responsibility for developing an evaluation system in the hands of districts.

Developing a comprehensive teacher evaluation system is far from straightforward. But state and district policymakers should make every effort to ensure teachers are being evaluated fairly and accurately.

Whether developing a teacher evaluation system, or implementing a new one, school district leaders should ask these questions:

How is the evaluation system developed?

What is the goal of the evaluation system?

Do those goals align with the district strategic plan?

What flexibility do districts have to tailor the evaluation system to the district’s strategic plan?

Does the district have the knowledge and resources in-house to develop their own evaluation system or modify the state model?

Who was involved in development of the evaluation system? Were key stakeholders, particularly teachers, involved in some way?

What is included in the evaluation system?

What measures are included in the evaluation system? How much weight does each measure carry in the overall score?

How accurate are the results? What are the evaluation system’s strengths and weaknesses?

What measures are used to determine the impact a teacher has on their students’ achievement?

What statistical model is used to measure the impact? Why is that measure used? How accurately does it isolate a teacher’s impact on student achievement?

Are the same measures used to evaluate all teachers? If not, how do they differ?

How often are teachers observed in a classroom setting? Does the frequency differ by experience or the teacher’s previous performance level?

Do evaluators have enough time to conduct all the observations required without impeding on their other responsibilities?

Who conducts the observations? How are they trained?

Is the observation rubric researched-based and aligned with the district’s goals?

How are results used?

When do teachers receive feedback from each observation?

Are the overall evaluation results used to improve instructional quality? If so, how?

Are the results used for personnel decisions? If so, how?

Are the results made public? If so, what information is made public?

Data-driven decisions require CIOs to help educators interpret and organize vast amount of information

Leave a comment


When it comes to data analytics, Maribeth Luftglass,CIO at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, focuses on ensuring privacy of all student data. And, she adds, it should be a top concern for all CIOs. (Photo: Donnie Biggs, Fairfax County Schools)Just a few years ago, CIOs—if they were involved in data analytics at all—would run a report, export it into an Excel document and create a chart or a graph to share with teachers and district leaders once a week, or at the end of each semester.

Now it’s all about creating systems that aggregate and sort data automatically, making it easier for educators to view crucial information every day.

“The CIO is really becoming more of a leadership position,” says Elizabeth Dabney, director of research and policy analysis at the Data Quality Campaign. “It’s not just an IT role—it’s having a very broad vision and a good understanding of the value of data in supporting education goals at the district and being able to communicate that.”

Since creating its first custom data dashboard in 2014, Sun Prairie Area School District in Wisconsin has been in a constant push to develop easier ways for educators to analyze data pulled from all of its schools.

The district used to rely on the state’s WISEdash system, which is a data portal that uses “dashboards,” or visual collections of graphs and tables, to provide multiyear education data about Wisconsin schools.

But it was barely used, because it didn’t allow schools to really drill down into detailed data. So the Sun Prairie district joined a data consortium of local districts a few years ago and has been creating different custom dashboards with the help of a software company.

The most recent project: An early-warning system that identifies students at risk of not graduating high school. The system feeds data from 12 indicators—including attendance, grades and discipline—into an easy-to-use program so educators can provide extra support to at-risk students as early as middle school.

Educators would previously look at the risk indicators individually in WISEdash. The new system overlaps the data to show which students are most at risk.

“What we’ve seen is the need to get data into the hands of our teachers, and get that into their hands in real time so they can use that information for decision-making on an almost daily basis,” says Michael Mades, Sun Prairie’s director of technology.

Sun Prairie’s data transformation reflects changes in the day-to-day roles of CIOs and CTOs in many other districts. “I am not someone who is allowed to be in the background making sure that our infrastructure is working—that isn’t my job anymore,” says Tony Spence, chief information officer at Muskego-Norway School District, also in Wisconsin. “It’s on a much higher level. I spend most of my time making sure the data systems we have reflect the needs of the district.”

So how do CIOs keep up with the changing demands? Here’s what four CIOs and CTOs had to say about how data analytics is changing their jobs—and their districts.

CIO as data interpreter

CIOs say their role is increasingly that of a data interpreter—someone who bridges the gap between the technology department (or product vendor) and the academic and operational branches.

Mades, at Sun Prairie, says he speaks two languages. In meetings with principals, he talks in academic language about the kinds of data that can be generated to improve student achievement, for example. Then he goes back to his IT team and, in much more technical language, discusses the systems needed to track and analyze that data.

Mades is a member of both the academic and operational branches of the district, meaning he keeps tabs constantly on how every department uses data. “Part of my work in the meetings is to listen to what their needs are and then help our data system support those, whether that’s building new dashboards or modifying some of the reports,” Mades says.

Because Mades understands the problems leaders are trying to address, such as behavior, he can provide better analysis.

For example, if misbehavior reports increase at a school, he can help a principal determine if there’s a buildingwide issue or if the problem is limited to specific classrooms or teachers.

For Dane Conrad, director of technology at Hattiesburg School District in Mississippi, interpreting data involves working with the district’s academic evaluation specialist to determine what data should be collected and analyzed. He then turns to his vendors to identify programs or products that meet the specialist’s needs.

On a different day, he might help schools take better advantage of existing data—for example, showing them how to track and identify trends in teacher or student absences.

CIO as data visionary

Because systems change so quickly, analyzing systems is a task that requires being something of a data visionary. And it means understanding how data supports current district goals, and then thinking about what information its educators will need in five or 10 years.

Many CIOs are shifting their focus from managing district data servers and applications in-house to seeking out third-party vendors and cloud-based systems that automate analytics for them, says Tracy Weeks, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association.

For CIOs who don’t have time to develop relationships with vendors that can provide analytics services, Weeks suggests teaming with neighboring districts to seek out the best products via consortium procurement agreements.

When looking for new products, Conrad from Hattiesburg relies on an email Listserv for district technology leaders in the state. He also finds ideas from Linkedin and technology conferences.

Even if the end goal is to automate analysis—when data from different areas, such as attendance or behavior, is merged in ways that educators can easily access—selecting the right systems involves hands-on work.

“We want somebody who used a product, preferably somebody who has had it for a while, that can tell us their experiences and how the product fits into their flow and make sure their flow matches our flow and our needs,” Conrad says.

CIO as trainer-in-chief

cCreating ways for teachers and administrators to study multiple kinds of data has opened up the problem-solving potential of analytics, says Rich Boettner, chief technology officer at Hilliard City Schools in Ohio.

But it’s also created a new role for CIOs: trainer-in-chief.

It’s important to make sure educators who may not have a background in analytics can use the information in meaningful ways, Boettner says.

Spence, at Muskego-Norway schools, trains teachers, academic coaches and certified staff during summer breaks and throughout the school year in how to use data systems and understand the numbers. Before CIOs can plan training or make sure data is being used effectively, however, they also must have a deep understanding of the data and how it supports district goals, Boettner says.

Boettner points to several main sources for professional development for himself and his staff: product vendors; internet resources, local and state networks for technology leaders, and conferences like ISTE.

CIO as silo regulator

And finally, after administrators understand how different departments use data, such understanding can help reduce or eliminate the data silos that exist within many districts.

At Muskego-Norway schools, Spence relies on a building-by-building plan that outlines how each school site is working on the district’s continuous improvement goals and which data will be used to support which efforts.

The plan gives Spence a clear understanding of what data each department collects, so he can ensure the systems are kept timely and up-to-date.

“Without the data plan it would be stabbing in the dark,” Spence says. “Instead we have a very specific goal about where we need to be.”

Peer-Led Anti-Bullying Efforts Yield Payoffs

Leave a comment


No matter how diligent teachers and administrators are, it’s easy for bullying to happen under the noses of adults at school. In the bathrooms, the hallways, and on social media, students are often the only ones around to police themselves.
That’s why researchers at Princeton, Rutgers, and Yale universities are analyzing middle schoolers’ social networks to find the students most likely to change their classmates’ attitudes around bullying. They are finding that bullying is generally driven not by a few bad apples but by a majority of students within the overall culture of a school. Shifting alliances and cycles of harassment and retribution can all play into that culture, and undercut adults’ anti-bullying campaigns.

“Adult-identified leaders are often very different from student-identified leaders,” said Hana Shepherd, an assistant sociology professor at Rutgers University. “Adults look at traditionally defined ‘popular’ kids, the ‘good’ kids, while kids who are leaders of smaller groups might not be on the social radar of adults, but often are [influential] too.”

During the 2012-13, school year, Shepherd, Elizabeth L. Paluck, a Princeton psychology professor, and Peter M. Aronow of Yale University repeatedly surveyed more than 24,000 students across 56 middle schools about the students they respected most and liked spending time with online and in person, out of a list of every student in their schools. They also asked students to list peers they had conflicts with, and the social norms in each school around behaviors shown to increase conflict, such as retaliating on behalf of a friend who has been bullied.

Not Just ‘Popular’ Kids

The researchers used the data to create network maps of student friendships in each school, identifying not just the most popular students or those whom teachers considered leaders, but the students who are most influential to different peer groups throughout the school. Of those so-called “seed” students, the researchers randomly invited half to participate in the Roots program, an anti-bullying program intended to support students in recognizing and finding ways to improve their own school climate around bullying.

In a study published late last fall, the researchers found schools using Roots had 30 percent fewer discipline reports on student conflict than similar schools not using the program.

Through 10 sessions over the course of the 2012-13 school year, Paluck said a “breakfast club” of influential students in different cliques in each school met to think out their own responses to bullying and discuss ways to reduce peer conflicts. Even the wording mattered. Rather than discussing “bullying”—a term that prior research has shown is linked more with stereotypes of physical intimidation and lunch-money theft—the students typically referred to conflicts as “drama.” Students talked through exercises among themselves about how they would respond if they either saw or heard about conflicts among students.

Critically, the seed students also discussed how their peers would react to their responses, and how they could influence their classmates better. In each school, students came up with their own projects, such as creating positive GIFs, or looping animations, for Instagram or handing out wristbands to reward a student who is seen de-escalating a fight or supporting a bullying victim.

Teacher evaluations no longer required, but useful with changes

Leave a comment


The nonprofit New Teacher Center recommends using evaluations as a tool for improvement

Armed with research about a teacher’s impact on student achievement, policy makers have required states and school districts to evaluate their teaching force, and the most readily available data has been standardized test scores. Passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act effectively back-tracked on this accountability strategy. No longer is there a federal mandate that schools evaluate teachers. And those that do will not be required to base their analysis on scores.

But former superintendent, principal and teacher Lisa Andrejko does not believe such evaluations will become a thing of the past.

“With so much time and effort undertaken at the state level in the implementation of accountability measures such as Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), prescribed teaching standard frameworks or rubrics and student achievement data, I cannot imagine a scenario in which states would abandon their new methods for grading teachers,” Andrejko wrote for PeopleAdmin in May. She expects revisions, but not necessarily another overhaul.

Still, ESSA creates a level of freedom that some districts may find exciting. The law provides for the use of federal dollars to survey teachers about working conditions and offer professional development, professional growth and leadership opportunities. And, importantly, it offers an opportunity to recalibrate after the last 15 years of No Child Left Behind.
Anne Udall, executive vice president of program strategy at the nonprofit New Teacher Center, hopes district administrators stop and think carefully about where to take teacher evaluations in the coming years. NCLB attached accountability to test scores, primarily, and Udall says research clearly shows that is not a useful way to gauge educator effectiveness. “My hope with ESSA is that we’ve learned enough from what didn’t work that we’re going to try to find the more comprehensive, nuanced approach,” Udall said.

What, then, should this new approach entail?

Udall and Andrejko agree evaluations should be used to help teachers improve their craft. That means they have to come with more nuanced feedback and targeted professional development. While many advocates of test-based accountability demanded it to weed out the worst teachers, advocates of new teacher evaluation systems aim to use it as a tool for improvement.

How administrators can adapt

Administrators, in this new design, will need to sharpen a few skills of their own.

“You can know what great instruction looks like, but you may not have the skillset to mentor or coach a new teacher because you don’t know how to tell them what they’re doing well and what they’re doing poorly,” Udall said.
Professional development for administrators should cover strategies for recognizing high-quality instruction as well as providing useful feedback.

In many schools, even carving out the time for regular classroom observations will require a major shift. This is where district administrators come in. Central office leaders can provide the support that frees principals from other management duties, delegating administrative tasks to other staff members and leaving principals to focus on staff development.

One trend the New Teacher Center has identified is the formation of instructional leadership teams in schools. These groups bring together principals, vice principals, department chairs and teacher representatives into a learning community that focuses on how best to support teacher improvement, design evaluation systems and approach coaching

After years of watching evaluation be used as a tool to “sort and punish,” Udall is excited to see a new trend of using evaluations to support teacher growth.

A lot is still up in the air when it comes to ESSA. But as the Obama administration finalizes its rule-making and states decide how to proceed, school districts can set their own priorities for evaluation, at least. Now no longer required by federal law, it can provide the foundation for effective school improvement that focuses on bringing out the best in today’s teachers.

Tara Garcia Mathewson I September 14, 2016

Survey: Social, cultural barriers discourage STEM pursuits among girls, minorities

Leave a comment


By on September 30th, 2015 | Comments (0)

Are corporations and associations doing enough to help build an inclusive workforce? Join us October 23 to hear a panel of STEM experts discuss ways companies and professional organizations can step up their efforts to address this issue. Come ready to share your ideas with our panel and your peers. We’ll ensure attendees leave with actionable best practices for preparing students for the 21st century workforce.

*****

Businesses and trade associations can help foster a more diverse workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields through outreach programs with schools, according to a recent month-long STEM survey from SmartBrief on EdTech. Sixty-seven percent of readers polled said they would like to see more career events, mentoring, internships and job training programs on STEM opportunities open for females, minorities and students with disabilities

SmartBrief on EdTech’s STEM survey, which presented a different poll question to readers each Wednesday in September, found that 34% of respondents reported that STEM skills are a primary focus for their school or district. Forty-three percent indicated that STEM skills are somewhat important for their school or district.

When it comes to cultivating interest in STEM among girls and minorities, 51% of respondents stated that their schools/districts have programs in place designed for this purpose. Yet, social and cultural protocols prevent many of these students from pursuing STEM opportunities, according to 41% of respondents.

Here are the full results of the survey:

How much importance is placed on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — skills in your school or district?

  • STEM skills are a primary focus in my school or district: 34%
  • STEM skills are somewhat important in my school or district: 43%
  • STEM skills are not a focus in my school or district: 23%

Does your school/district have efforts in place aimed at generating more STEM interest among girls and minorities?

  • Yes: 51%
  • No: 49%

How can businesses and trade associations in the STEM fields help foster diverse, inclusive workforces? What kinds of outreach would you like to see would you like to see for girls, students with disabilities and students from minority backgrounds?

  • Events that shed light on careers students may not know exist: 6%
  • Mentoring opportunities: 8%
  • Partnerships that include internships and job training programs: 19%
  • We need it all!: 67%

What factors do you think contribute to STEM gaps among girls, minorities and students with special needs?

  • Low student interest: 10%
  • Lack of knowledge about the broad range of careers included in these fields: 10%
  • Lack of exposure to role models: 15%
  • Not enough programs targeting these students: 14%
  • Social and cultural barriers that discourage students from pursuing these fields: 41%
  • Curriculum geared toward the general student population: 10%

According to projections from the US Department of Commerce, by 2018, more than 1.2 million STEM jobs will go unfilled for lack of skilled workers.

Three Reasons Performance will Change

Leave a comment


Based upon changes in employee expectations, advancements in technology and the revolution in people’s relationships with technology, Forbes contributor Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith cites three reasons why performance management systems need to be revamped to better fit today’s organizational environment to achieve their intended outcome: performance improvement. As technology evolves and data becomes more streamlined through composite dashboards, graphic displays and easy to access reports, it is helping to redirect our attention to what actually matters in the performance evaluation and development process. Managers now have the tools to shift their focus from the process to outcomes that drive the performance development and organizational improvement. More: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sylviavorhausersmith/2012/12/16/the-new-face-of-performance-management-trading-annual-reviews-for-agile-management/

Article:

Is there any organizational practice more broken than performance management? Not if you concur with Marc Effron & Miriam Ort who state “perhaps no talent management process is more important or more reviled than performance management.” In fact, it draws universal agreement on several fronts:

  • everyone hates it – employees and managers alike
  • nobody does it well – it’s a skill that seemingly fails to be acquired despite exhaustive training efforts, and
  • it fails the test of construct validity – it doesn’t do what it was designed to do, i.e. increase performance

Traditional performance management programs have become organization wallpaper. They exist in the background with little or no expectations for impact. Yet despite its poor popularity, the concept of performance (at an individual and organizational level) is critical to business success. It can’t just be ignored.

Why is it so broken?

In a large survey conducted by WorldatWork, 58% of organizations rated their performance management systems as “C Grade or below.” That gets a giggle. The performance management process itself gets subjected to its own methods of setting criteria and rating performance against them – and fails.

I believe there are three reasons almost all current performance management systems are broken:

1 People have changed

2 Technology has changed

3 People’s relationship with their technology has changed

Repairing the damage? In order to compete in today’s market, companies must move to adopt a much more agile performance management approach.

People HAVE CHANGED

Employee expectations have changed. It’s not just Gen Y – employees everywhere and of every generation expect more. More involvement, more accountability, and more transparency. When it comes to managing their performance, employees have shifted from being passive recipients to active agents. Not satisfied with a one-way download of performance feedback, employees want to participate in the performance data collection process. And they liken the ‘annual event’ of a performance review to arriving at the pearly gates on Judgment Day.

Managers have changed too. Command and control is no longer cutting it – managers are expected to guide and coach, provide balanced constructive feedback and inspire, rather than enforce, performance.

Add to that what science is now telling us about what really drives human motivation. Like, goal pursuit motivates performance much more than goal achievement, peak performance is best achieved in states of flow, and multi-tasking only dilutes performance on all tasks undertaken concurrently.

Key Changes for High Performance?

Paradigm shift. What used to work no longer does. Managers need to:

1) be realcommunicate openly and often.

2) set stretch goals and inspire individuals to work to their potential.

3) get out of the way – trust their teams and empower employees with accountability.

Technology HAS CHANGED

We’re reaching a tipping point for technology in the talent management arena. It began with simple automation: take the paper processes and put them on a computer. Fine, but that left us with so many spreadsheets, Word templates, proprietary systems and disconnected point solutions that we were drowning in complexity and data overload. It also highlighted that many of the processes we were automating actually needed to be revised, simplified or eliminated altogether.

Baffled by the complexity we created, focus in recent years has been on process simplification, user-friendliness and redirecting attention to what actually matters. A good step forward, but we still suffer from too much data, too little meaningful information.

The “big data & analytics movement” has now really raised the bar – not just in terms of what data can be gathered, aggregated and analyzed but also how it is filtered and presented to audiences to provide immediate management insights. Activity lists are being replaced by composite dashboards, lengthy reports by simple performance heat maps – yes, pictures, literally replacing thousands of words.

Key Change for High Performance?

A shift in focus from process to outcomes. Burn the forms. With technology finally up to the task of producing meaningful information, managers can turn their attention to driving performance outcomes rather than being bogged down in laborious processes.

The relationship between people and their technology

On demand.

Ubiquitous.

Better, faster, cheaper.

It’s really not so long ago that your only likely encounter with a computer was when you went to work, laptops were expensive and rare, and mobile devices were pagers and Walkmans. Today, can you even imagine getting past 10:00 a.m. without having accessed a myriad of your online applications? We work online, shop online, socialize online, we are connected 24/7 – online.

Enterprise technologies are not far behind. Perhaps you are still in a workplace that restricts or bans social media, but they are in decline. Perhaps your organization refuses cloud-based applications for privacy or security reasons, but they are in decline. The fact is: organizations that try to block out the world simply ostracize themselves. And they are in decline.

Key Change for High Performance?

An agile, social and mobile work environment. You will set dynamic goals and adjust them in response to change; your manager will provide just-in-time coaching wherever you are; skills and knowledge you need will be recommended and streamed to you; your performance journal will continuously capture and cluster feedback, ideas and suggestions from your peers and customers; your formal annual performance review will be permanently deleted from your calendar…and you will finally be in a position to manage your own career.

President Obama Announces New Privacy Protections for the Digital Age

Leave a comment


Below is a Fact Sheet released by the White House regarding Internet Privacy.Benchmark One is one of the first signatories to this policy as it relates to Student Data Privacy

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

 January 12, 2015

 FACT SHEET: Safeguarding American Consumers & Families President Obama Announces New Privacy Protections for the Digital Age Today, President Obama will build on the steps he has taken to protect American companies, consumers, and infrastructure from cyber threats, while safeguarding privacy and civil liberties.  These actions have included the President’s 2012 comprehensive blueprint for consumer privacy, the BuySecure initiative—launched last year— to safeguard Americans’ financial security, and steps the President took earlier this year by creating a working group of senior administration officials to examine issues related to big data and privacy in public services and the commercial sector. In an increasingly interconnected world, American companies are also leaders in protecting privacy, taking unprecedented steps to invest in cybersecurity and provide customers with precise control over the privacy of their online content.  But as cybersecurity threats and identity theft continue to rise, recent polls show that 9 in 10 Americans feel they have in some way lost control of their personal information — and that can lead to less interaction with technology, less innovation, and a less productive economy. At the Federal Trade Commission offices today, President Obama will highlight measures he will discuss in the State of the Union and unveil the next steps in his comprehensive approach to enhancing consumers’ security, tackling identity theft, and improving privacy online and in the classroom.  These steps include: Improving Consumer Confidence by Tackling Identity Theft

  • The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act: The President is putting forward a new legislative proposal to help bring peace of mind to the tens of millions of Americans whose personal and financial information has been compromised in a data breach.  This proposal clarifies and strengthens the obligations companies have to notify customers when their personal information has been exposed, including establishing a 30-day notification requirement from the discovery of a breach, while providing companies with the certainty of a single, national standard.  The proposal also criminalizes illicit overseas trade in identities.
  • Identifying and Preventing Identity Theft: To give consumers access to one of the best early indicators of identity theft, as well as an opportunity to improve their credit health, JPMorganChase and Bank of America, in partnership with Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), will join the growing list of firms making credit scores available for free to their consumer card customers.  USAA and State Employees’ Credit Union will also offer free credit scores to their members, and Ally Financial is further widening the community of companies taking this step by making credit scores available to their auto loan customers.  Through this effort over half of all adult Americans with credit scores will now have access to this tool to help spot identity theft, through their banks, card issuers, or lenders.

Safeguarding Student Data in the Classroom and Beyond  The Student Digital Privacy Act: The President is releasing a new legislative proposal designed to provide teachers and parents the confidence they need to enhance teaching and learning with the best technology — by ensuring that data collected in the educational context is used only for educational purposes.  This bill, modeled on a landmark California statute, builds on the recommendations of the White House Big Data and Privacy review released earlier this year, would prevent companies from selling student data to third parties for purposes unrelated to the educational mission and from engaging in targeted advertising to students based on data collected in school – while still permitting important research initiatives to improve student learning outcomes, and efforts by companies to continuously improve the effectiveness of their learning technology products.

  • New Commitments from the Private Sector to Help Enhance Privacy for Students:  Today 75 companies have committed to the cause, signing a pledge to provide parents, teachers, and kids themselves with important protections against misuse of their data.  This pledge was led by the Future of Privacy Forum and the Software & Information Industry Association, and today the President challenged other companies to follow their lead.
  • New Tools from the Department of Education to Empower Educators Around the Country and Protect Students: The Department of Education and its Privacy Technical Assurance Center play a critical role in protecting American children from invasions of privacy. Today, we are announcing a forthcoming model terms of service, as well as teacher training assistance that will enhance our ability to help ensure educational data is used appropriately and in accordance with the educational mission.

Convening the Public and Private Sector to Tackle Emerging Privacy Issues Voluntary Code of Conduct for Smart Grid Customer Data Privacy: Today the Department of Energy and the Federal Smart Grid Task Force are releasing a new Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) for utilities and third parties aimed at protecting electricity customer data — including energy usage information.  This Code reflects a year of expert and public consultation, including input from industry stakeholders, privacy experts, and the public.  As companies begin to sign on, the VCC will help improve consumer awareness, choice and consent, and controls on access. Promoting Innovation by Improving Consumers Confidence Online

  • Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Legislation: Online interactions should be governed by clear principles — principles that look at the context in which data is collected and ensure that users’ expectations are not abused.  Those were the key themes of the Administration’s 2012 Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, and today the Commerce Department announced it has completed its public consultation on revised draft legislation enshrining those principles into law.  Within 45 days, the Administration will release this revised legislative proposal and today we call on Congress to begin active consideration of this important issue.

 These actions build on steps the President has already taken to support consumer privacy and fight identity theft, including: Making Federal Payments More Secure to Help Drive the Market Forward: In October, as part of his BuySecure Initiative, the President issued an Executive Order laying out a new policy to secure payments to and from the Federal government by applying chip and PIN technology to newly issued and existing government credit cards, as well as debit cards like Direct Express, and upgrading retail payment card terminals at Federal agency facilities to accept chip and PIN-enabled cards. This accompanied an effort by major companies like Home Depot, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart to roll out secure chip and PIN-compatible card terminals in stores across the country. New Measures to Prevent Identity Theft: The President also announced new steps by the government to assist victims of identity theft, including supporting the Federal Trade Commission in their development of a new one-stop resource for victims at IdentityTheft.gov and expanding information sharing to ensure Federal investigators’ ability to regularly report evidence of stolen financial and other information to companies whose customers are directly affected.

Older Entries