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Massachusetts District Takes a Continuous Improvement Approach to Data Privacy and Security

Protecting student data privacy is an ongoing, ever-evolving challenge. Navigating rapid changes in risk while simultaneously sustaining the appropriate support and continuing to grow a security and privacy-focused district culture is an ongoing challenge. Dedham Public Schools in Massachusetts is tackling these challenges with a growth mindset and continuous improvement approach that began by completing a district-wide self-assessment. 

The assessment “provided an excellent opportunity to reflect, prioritize and improve many of our current practices, especially around the need to have a sustained, focused approach to student data privacy and cybersecurity,” said District Technology Director Dr. Don Langenhorst. “Not only were we able to adapt and adopt new approaches, but we also discovered a solid network of colleagues around the country who are willing to collaborate and share effective practices for school communities.” 

At the administrative level, student data privacy topics and ongoing improvement are a component of every bi-monthly meeting. The district established a CyberSecurity Team, which meets monthly to review projects and future needs or goals. They also made data privacy and cybersecurity part of the quarterly professional development plan for all educators and staff. This includes conducting differentiated, AI-based phishing tests quarterly along with quarterly training. 

“The biggest indicator of success has been seeing changes in behavior with a significant increase in staff awareness, commitment, and acceptance of practices,” Langenhorst said.