Big Data in Education: Balancing the Benefits of Educational Research and Student Privacy

JUST RELEASED: Workshop Summary Report

The summary report addresses a fundamental tension of how to reap the educational benefits that access to comprehensive “big” data provides while ensuring student privacy. In order to understand and improve teaching and learning, education data must be available to researchers, and the privacy of children and families must be protected. This report, based upon a workshop, reviewed the benefits of educational research using modern data systems, the risks to the privacy of families and children, and technical and political solutions for maximizing benefits and minimizing risks. In particular, the report recommends that the research community (1) adopt common terminology, (2) communicate the importance of educational research more effectively, (3) build strong partnerships and models to ensure the sharing of data, and (4) better educate researchers and universities on privacy issues.

In addition to this summary report, the information below includes other proceedings of the workshop, including agenda, a commissioned background paper, panel summaries, and panel videos.

Workshop Summaries and Videos


Welcome and Project Goals


Panel 1: Role of Administrative and Survey Data in Education Research


Panel 2: Learning Process Data in Education Research


Panel 3: Lessons Learned from Other Fields


Panel 4: Lessons Learned from Education Stakeholders


Panel 5: Implications of Privacy Concerns for Using Student Data for Research

Steering Committee Members


  • Susan Fuhrman (Co-chair)

    Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Elizabeth Buchanan

    University of Wisconsin-Stout

  • Louis Gomez

    University of California, Los Angeles

  • Sophia Rabe-Hesketh

    University of California, Berkeley

  • P. David Pearson (Co-chair)
    University of California, Berkeley
  • Chris Dede
    Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Andrew Ho
    Harvard Graduate School of Education
Amy Berman, Deputy Director
The work was funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the National Academy of Education.

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