Learning Resources

Nonprofit Launches K–12 Edtech Privacy Evaluation Platform

The new platform from Common Sense tests the privacy of commonly used apps used in classrooms.

Schools looking for an easier way to manage the task of evaluating the privacy and security practices of thousands of education technology applications on the market now have a new tool to evaluate apps that students commonly use.

Common Sense Education, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works with more than 100,000 schools to help students harness technology for learning, has launched the K–12 Edtech Privacy Evaluation Platform in collaboration with more than 70 schools and districts throughout the United States.

"Evaluating the privacy and security practices of educational software is a daunting task for most schools and districts, but it doesn't have to be," said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense, in a prepared statement. "By working together with educators, Common Sense has developed a comprehensive, centralized, and free resource to help an education community that is spread out across the country learn from each other and make more informed decisions about protecting student privacy."

On the platform, apps undergo the following four tests:

  • A transparency evaluation that identifies the thoroughness of the policy;
  • A qualitative evaluation that clarifies the strengths and weaknesses in the policy;
  • A summary evaluation that, based on the qualitative evaluation, organizes strengths and risks into four categories of safety, privacy, security and compliance; and
  • An app evaluation that provides an overall summary of strengths and potential risk of an app.

The tool was created after an initiative of several school districts, including Fairfax Country Public Schools and Houston ISD, formed to address the complex and varied privacy policies. The initiative approached Common Sense in 2014. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation later provided funding for the platform.

To explore the K–12 Edtech Privacy Evaluation Platform, visit the Common Sense Graphite site.

About the Author

Sri Ravipati is Web producer for THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].