Article: Using ECM to Ensure the Security and Confidentiality of Pupil Records
“Ultimately, it is a district’s responsibility to protect student records. When schools are unable to respond to privacy concerns, parents are quick to organize. They contact legislators and alert the media. Addressing their concerns is no easy task.”
Public schools often struggle with challenges related to student privacy and protected information. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) address these challenges to some extent. With respect to managing student information in the digital age, however, laws have not kept up with emerging technology.
National bills have attempted to remedy this discrepancy with legislation. The recently re-introduced FERPA update (the Protecting Student Privacy Act)—as well as state bills such as California’s AB-1584 and Senate Bill 1117 (the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act, or SOPIPA)—address today’s complex technological environment. But ultimately, it is a district’s responsibility to protect student records. When schools are unable to respond to privacy concerns, parents are quick to organize. They contact legislators and alert the media. Addressing their concerns is no easy task: school resources are already constrained. And it is more difficult than ever to track and control information.
Going beyond paperless
Enterprise content management (ECM) software may provide a solution. ECM is a formalized process used to manage and govern the information lifecycle from creation through archival, and eventually, disposal. ECM software helps districts implement the strategies and methods associated with capture, management, storage, preservation, and delivery of information throughout its lifecycle.
Historically, schools adopted ECM to address paper-based document management challenges. The technology enables districts to use imaging to store, retrieve, and manage their information electronically. For districts whose processes are both electronic and paper-based, ECM offers unparalleled benefits in the area of information management. It enables districts to improve:
- Disaster recovery
- Accessibility and response times
ECM has evolved beyond a simple paperless solution. It assists districts with 21st century challenges related to compliance, privacy, and document control.
Ensuring the security and confidentiality of pupil records
Education is changing. Technology is providing new tools to understand and improve the way teachers teach and students learn. School leaders are realizing the potential for using student data to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, balancing these advances with the need to protect student privacy and data is a major challenge. Google recently announced that 30,000 new Chromebooks are being activated in U.S. schools every school day. With the rapidly growing reliance on educational technology and the ever-changing legal landscape of districts’ data-privacy obligations, ECM provides the tools to establish consistent methods and best practices for assuring student privacy.
Seamless records management
A robust ECM system provides your district with seamless records management. Records management prevents unauthorized access, manipulation, and inadvertent destruction of information; helps comply with district and government policies; and ensures district-wide consistency.
How it works
At its most basic, ECM technology is about providing the right access to the right information at the right time.
An ECM solution applies your district’s records management policies and procedures as a clear, repeatable process. It provides the ability to:
- Understand what content exists and where (discovery).
- Determine which content needs to be protected, and which does not (classification).
- Establish policies about access and use that balance risk, productivity, and cost (governance).
- Implement the means to monitor and enforce policies (controls).
Through features like permissions, digital signatures, and auditable workflows, the system manages the lifecycle of each record. Automating records management enforces consistency while removing the burden of retention and disposition from your workforce.
In addition to providing confidentiality, integrity, and access controls over student data, ECM software also applies fine-grained control over actions which can be taken on the data – such as the ability to forward, print, cut and paste, or save a local copy. This strategy of rights management is fundamental to satisfying the complex matrix of requirements to protect student data.
Accelerating efficiency throughout your district
The technology offers benefits well beyond securing and managing student records. Today, school districts can deploy a single, flexible ECM solution to manage information in all departments, including Human Resources, Special Education, Administration, and Finance. ECM software can integrate with core systems including student information systems, learning management systems, SAP, and PeopleSoft. It also integrates with everyday office applications like MS Word, Outlook, and SharePoint. The system offers you the ability to:
- Search school board meeting minutes and other PDFs.
- Implement electronic forms to further minimize paper throughout your district.
- Immediately access and manage AP invoices.
- Electronically store, manage, and access hiring records, termination records, résumés, applications, credentials, certifications, personnel files, and other staff records.
- Reduce the need for physical storage space and its associated costs.
Are you searching for a better way to control and flow records and other information? Look into the benefits associated with enterprise content management software. Discover how the technology can help you protect student privacy and at the same time, streamline efficiency throughout your district. Learn why going paperless is no longer a destination; it is a launching point.