New Report Clarifies Student Data Privacy Rules for State Education Agencies
Alexandria, VA – Even though regulations to permit increased student data sharing under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) were revised a decade ago, many state education leaders remain uncertain about the types of data sharing they can approve. To guide their decision making, NASBE’s affiliate, the National Council of State Education Attorneys (NCOSEA), has released State Education Agency Data and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Sharing.
The U.S. Department of Education has released hundreds of guidance documents since Congress enacted FERPA nearly 50 years ago, almost none of them geared toward state education agencies (SEAs). Yet these agencies maintain massive troves of student data, and businesses, universities, researchers, auditors, and policymakers routinely seek it.
Although FERPA typically prohibits sharing of student data that includes personally identifiable information, the most recent FERPA rules specified exceptions. For example, SEAs may redisclose such information to authorized parties for certain kinds of research, using either the law’s “studies” exception or its “audit or evaluation” exception. NCOSEA’s report explains the scope of SEA discretion under each exception.
“FERPA provides SEAs with significant authority to redisclose data for important purposes, but not all legal redisclosures may be prudent or practical at the state level,” the authors write. “State leaders should carefully consult with their senior staff to develop education data use plans that align with their educational goals and vision, including determining the conditions when SEA data redisclosures may best serve the interests of students, parents, schools, and school districts.”
NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances.
The National Council of State Education Attorneys (NCOSEA) comprises attorneys who represent and advise state boards of education. An affiliate of NASBE, NCOSEA provides a forum for these attorneys to study and exchange information on legal issues of concern to state education policymakers.