Frequently Asked Questions

What is the TLE Seal?
The TLE Seal is a mark of distinction for school systems, signaling that they have taken measurable steps to ensure the privacy of student data. It is the ONLY privacy designation for school systems.

CoSN leads the program, which was developed through the input of 28 school systems nationwide and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) and ASCD.

Why was the TLE Seal Program developed?
Schools must manage complex processes and practices to meet regulatory requirements and protect the privacy and security of student data. The TLE Seal Program provides school systems with a set of concrete practices to evolve their student data protections beyond the legal requirements. It encourages schools to continuously examine and improve their policies and practices and requires that they measure their work in this area against a set of high standards developed by their peers.

Why is the TLE Seal Program important?
Technology is a critical part of the 21st-century classroom, and data is vital to efforts to provide a more personalized education for all students. Research shows that a large majority of parents are concerned about the privacy and security of student data, as are school system leaders. Schools must have concrete policies and practices in place to provide appropriate protections for student data, and they need to communicate those practices clearly to parents in order to earn their trust. The TLE Seal Program indicates that school systems have demonstrated adherence to a set of publicly available standards focused on the protection of student data privacy.

Who is eligible to earn the Seal?
School systems or school organizations of all governance structures, including public school districts, private schools, parochial schools and charter schools are eligible to earn the TLE Seal.

The TLE Seal is only available to school systems – technology providers are not eligible.

How can my school systems qualify to earn the Seal and apply?
To earn the TLE Seal, school systems must provide evidence demonstrating how they meet the requirements of all TLE Seal practices. When earned, the Seal is applicable for two years and provides school systems the vehicle to communicate their commitment to student data privacy and their commitment to ongoing privacy improvement clearly to parents. Click here to apply.

What are the top priorities or practices of the program?
The TLE Seal Program helps school systems focus on building robust privacy practices across specific requirements and a culture of trust and transparency. The Program focuses on five core practice areas: Leadership, Business, Data Security, Professional Development and Classroom. Within each area are a number of specific practices that school systems must have implemented to be eligible for the Seal.

Given resource and other unique constraints that schools face, some of the practices may be challenging to put in place. However, the TLE Seal Program position is that all practices are achievable and necessary to earn the designation.

Does earning the TLE Seal ensure a school system has complied with federal and/or state privacy laws?
TLE Seal applicants are expected to be operating in compliance with applicable privacy laws. The TLE Seal is a framework that minimizes risk and elevates practices beyond legal requirements to build a foundation for an approach to privacy that involves multiple stakeholders and that meets high practice standards.

How does the TLE Seal Program help address student data privacy challenges?
Much of the privacy conversation has landed at the feet of school leaders. They are challenged to modernize learning environments that meet legal privacy and security requirements while articulating to their communities about the safeguards in place.

The TLE Seal Program provides schools with a set of concrete practices to evolve their student data protections beyond the legal requirements. It encourages schools to continuously examine and improve their policies and practices and requires that they measure their work in this area against a set of high standards developed by their peers.

What happens if a school system application is denied?
School system leaders apply for the TLE Program by submitting detailed information about specific practices for review by CoSN. The TLE requirements are publicly available, so education leaders have sufficient guidance about TLE requirements in advance of submitting an application. However, applications are confidential. In the event that CoSN determines that a Seal should not be awarded, the school system will receive feedback and a benchmarking report to help inform how they can improve. School systems may reapply as often as they’d like without cost.

What is required of TLE Seal recipients to maintain the Seal?
The TLE Seal is valid for 2 years. As part of being awarded the Seal, recipients commit to engaging in the ongoing improvement of their practices. At the end of the 2-year term, TLE Seal recipients must reapply, providing evidence of how their practices have improved.

What happens if a TLE Seal recipient has a privacy or security incident?
As a matter of policy, should a TLE Seal recipient experience a privacy or security incident, CoSN will assess the facts once they are available and make a determination as to whether or not any TLE practices – perhaps lapsed – were causative. A lapse in commitment to TLE practices, including a lapse that leads to a privacy or security incident, or a failure to improve over the course of the 2-year Seal term could be grounds for revocation of the Seal.