Students in the United States perform worse in mathematics and just average in science and reading compared to much of the developed world, even though the United States spends more per student than all but four other countries. There is an obvious need to improve how the United States approaches education, but policymakers’ efforts to tap data from the classroom to improve educational outcomes have thus far been tepid at best. In the past, as innovative efforts to use data to improve education began to take shape, those without a clear understanding of the benefits of data mining in education have stopped progress in its tracks, often because of misguided privacy fears. Now, bills introduced in the House and Senate could pave the way for more innovative uses of education data – but the bills simultaneously include provisions that restrict the potential for data-driven improvements to educational outcomes. Instead of this lukewarm approach, policymakers should actively support data mining in education and preserve the capacity to use this data effectively, while pushing back at overly restrictive, and even damaging, efforts to protect student data in the name of privacy, writes Joshua New in Statescoop.