Don’t let State and Federal Regulations Crush Your IT Department 

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How IT Can Help Schools Meet FERPA and PPRA 

Running IT for a school or district has grown increasingly complex with digitization, AI, and cyberattacks making new demands on already overloaded IT departments. Unfortunately, ransomware has made headlines for far too many schools.  

And, while the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Section 504 were enacted in 1974, both have been updated to also cover digital technologies. Plus, you have state mandates to provide all communications in different languages, which multiplies the number of instances of unprotected data in your school or district. 

You need feedback that you must protect 

Life in educational IT would be much easier if schools didn’t have to collect data and feedback, which often includes Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Include the complexities and additional data that FERPA and Section 504 cover, along with most educators’ tendency to find their own way to get things done, and you have a recipe for collecting data you can’t protect or report on.  

Don’t make it a full-time job 

So how do you collect the feedback you need, protect it, and report on it, without spending every waking moment dealing with it? 

The first step is to find a solution that offers the security you need, the flexibility to be deployed across the school district for all uses, and the ease of use to be used properly without extensive implementation training.  

If your state mandates that all communications be available in the language of the parents, you need a solution that makes it easy to offer different languages in the same survey or form. Most freeware requires separate surveys for different languages, which means more data to protect, and more time cleaning and compiling the results for reporting. 

Put it together 

When it comes time to report registrations, attendance, demographics, and test scores, does somebody need to find each report, figure out how to compile them, and then turn them into usable charts, graphs, and numbers? 

The Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) effectively and securely compiles data from 29 different schools and stores it centrally so that the schools can access what they need to report to different government agencies and others.  

This also gives the schools benchmarking data so they can compare enrollments, demographics, salaries, and more, which helps the schools stay competitive. AICAD controls access to the information, so people only have access to the data that they need, based on their roles. 

Free isn’t Truly Free 

In the blog, Don’t Let Unknown Data Siloes Put Your Entire School District at Risk, we discussed the actual cost of “free” survey and form software. By selecting a secure, flexible solution to give everybody in your school and district community a voice, you can avoid the rapidly escalating costs of free, while giving yourself peace of mind.  

Alchemer offers that for schools and districts. You can use Alchemer for so much more than just surveys and forms. One K-12 school educational service district that covers several counties even uses Alchemer to collect art for their annual art show. Teachers work with students to enter a photograph of their work, which then goes into a central database for judging. The same database also includes employee satisfaction ratings, program referral data, and even political polling information is tightly controlled, so that people only get access to the information they need based on their roles, all within Alchemer. 

Using a secure SaaS (Software as a Service) solution like Alchemer puts all your survey, poll, and form data in the cloud, where Alchemer is responsible for end-to-end data encryption, data residency and isolation, redundancy, proactive monitoring, and data retention requirements.  

Going forward, let Alchemer offload this challenge for you, keeping all of your data safe in the cloud, secured, and available.  

Read the other blog posts in this series 

Read more about Alchemer’s security and compliance.  

Learn more about Alchemer’s work in education.  

Schedule an Alchemer demonstration.  

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