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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on FERPA Addresses Use of Data in Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems

The U.S. Department of Education has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) intended to "strike a balance between student records privacy and data availability" according to a press release issued by the Department. According to the NPRM:

These proposed amendments are necessary to ensure that the Department's implementation of FERPA continues to protect the privacy of education records, as intended by Congress, while allowing for the effective use of data in statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) as envisioned in the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (COMPETES Act) and furthermore supported under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Under the Department's proposal:

  • Enforcement provisions of FERPA would be strengthened to ensure that every entity working with personally identifiable information from student education records is using it for authorized purposes only.
  • Schools will be able to implement directory information policies that limit access to student records, preventing marketers or criminals from accessing the data.
  • States can enter into research agreements on behalf of their districts to measure the success of programs, such as early childhood programs that effectively prepare kids for kindergarten.
  • High school administrators can share information on student achievement to track how their graduates perform academically in college.

Comments will be collected by the Department at www.regulations.gov until May 23, 2011.

Highlights of other aspects of the Department's Safeguarding Student Privacy Initiative are available in a 9 page brief prepared by the Department.

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