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New FERPA Rules Promote Education Reform and Enable Increased Accountability and Transparency

The Revised Regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) were announced on December 2, 2011.  According to the U.S. Department of Education, the changes in the rules were “needed to ensure that the Department continues to implement FERPA in a way that protects the privacy of education records while allowing for the effective use of data.”  The rule changes are designed to accommodate increased accountability and transparency for schools and institutions of higher education.  “Improved access to data will facilitate States’ ability to evaluate education programs, to ensure limited resources are invested effectively, to build upon what works and discard what does not, and to contribute to a culture of innovation of continuous improvement in education” writes the Department in the summary of the Final regulations.

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FSA Fall Conference Addresses Several Policy Themes

The 2011 Federal Student Aid Fall Conference held on November 29th-December 2nd covered a variety of federal student aid policy topics, ranging from state authorization to program integrity rules. 

Education Secretary Arnie Duncan kicked off the event with the following remarks:

. . . my chief message today is a sobering one. I want to ask you, and the entire higher education community, to look ahead and start thinking more creatively—and with much greater urgency—about how to contain the spiraling costs of college and reduce the burden of student debt on our nation's students.

He highlighted attempts to radically redesign courses and make smarter use of technology as ways that college leaders can help control college costs and net price.

Department of Education to Rollout Two-Factor Authentication

The U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid technology office announced this week at the 2011 Federal Student Aid Conference its plans to issue 90,000 tokens to privileged users who have access to Personally Identifiable Information on FSA systems.  The privileged users will include financial aid staff at your institutions.   More information is available at http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/CSD6059.pdf

FTC to Host Workshop on Facial Recognition Technology (12/8/11)

The Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop in Washington, D.C., on December 8th, 2011, exploring facial recognition technology and the privacy and security implications raised by its increasing use.  The agenda is now available.  A webcast of the proceedings will also be available.

ED FSA Software Developer’s Conference Focuses on Theme of Cybersecurity

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) Federal Student Aid (FSA) Software Developers Conference kicked off today with sessions on cybersecurity, identity management, and related topics of trust and identity in cyberspace.  The event precedes the 2011 FSA Fall Conference in Las Vegas.

During the Software Developer’s Conference, the U.S. Department of Education Chief Information Officer Danny Harris presented “a 3-word challenge” to the attendees:  Build It In!  He summarized by recommending that software developers build in the following:

EDUCAUSE Launches Government Relations for IT Forum

EDUCAUSE has established a forum to bring together campus government relations officers with EDUCAUSE and other higher education association staff to share information concerning current developments and future trends in IT public policy at the state, federal, and international level.  The EDUCAUSE Government Relations for Information Technology (GRIT) forum was established to accomplish the following:

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ISOC Issues Paper on Policy and Technical Implications of Domain Name System (DNS) Filtering

The Internet Society (ISOC) has issued a paper entitled "ISOC Perspectives on Domain Name System (DNS) Filtering" (PDF).  The context for the paper is summarized as follows: 

Policymakers, legislators, and regulators around the globe want to combat illegal online activities such as child pornography, infringement of intellectual property rights and cybercriminal activities. It is important that these issues are addressed in ways that do not undermine the global architecture of the Internet or curtail internationally recognized human rights.

ISOC believes DNS filtering is not a solution because...

U.S. Department of Education Announces Grant Competition for Longitudinal Data Systems

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a call for applications for the fiscal year 2012 (FY12) competition for the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program. It estimates that grants will range from $1 million to $5 million for a three-year grant period. Final amounts will depend on the final appropriation and state applications. Only state education agencies (SEAs) that did not receive an FY09 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant may apply. As a condition of receiving State Fiscal Stabilization funds, all states committed to developing and implementing statewide data systems containing the elements specified in the America COMPETES Act.

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U.S. Department of Education Announces Grant Competition for Longitudinal Data Systems

The U.S. Department of Education has announced a call for applications for the fiscal year 2012 (FY12) competition for the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program. It estimates that grants will range from $1 million to $5 million for a three-year grant period. Final amounts will depend on the final appropriation and state applications. Only state education agencies (SEAs) that did not receive an FY09 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant may apply. As a condition of receiving State Fiscal Stabilization funds, all states committed to developing and implementing statewide data systems containing the elements specified in the America COMPETES Act.

AdmitMe Project Strives to Streamline the Admission Process through Federated Identity Management

InCommon and the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)  have announced a pilot project to demonstrate the advantages of the InCommon Federation and a unique student identifier to streamline the admissions process.  PESC's Electronic Authentication/Electronic Authorization (EA2) Task Force and InCommon are partnering with the College Board, ACT, and a number of institutions and service providers.  The project, called AdmitMe, will establish a third party identity provider at Georgetown University that will demonstrate the advantages of such a system.

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