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SLDS Privacy/Security Resources - Privacy Technical Assistance Center

As states expand efforts to link K-12, postsecondary, and workforce data via state longitudinal data systems (SLDSs), it is important to understand the privacy and security challenges surrounding SLDSs. How the privacy and security approaches of those systems and non-higher education sectors relate to those of higher education (as developed collaboratively through groups such as the Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC)) is equally relevant. One can get a sense of both by reviewing the resources and information provided by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

ED launched PTAC to provide “technical assistance to state education agencies, local education agencies, and institutions of higher education related to the Privacy, Security, and Confidentiality of student records.” As the PTAC site notes, federal investments in the development of SLDSs as well as the December 2011 amended regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) allowing for increased access to individual student records from such systems has heightened concerns about privacy and security of personally identifiable information flowing into and out of SLDSs. PTAC is intended to address such concerns by bolstering student data privacy and security in relation to SLDSs.

PTAC pursues its mission in part by making available a “privacy toolkit” encompassing:

PTAC also supports a free help desk that schools, institutions, and agencies can contact for help with SLDS privacy and security issues, and it provides onsite technical assistance regarding SLDS privacy/security best practices. (See http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/ptac/contacts.html.)

Perhaps most importantly, PTAC may offer the higher education IT security and privacy community with a clear point of contact and possibly collaboration within ED on security and privacy standards and methods in relation to student educational data.

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