On April 7, 2011 the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued a press release announcing its Notice of Public Rule Making (NPRM) outlining new initiatives to safeguard student information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) while allowing states the flexibility to share school data as necessary to verify the effectiveness of government investments in education. ED secretary Arne Duncan said “Data should be shared with the right people for the right reasons. We need common-sense rules that strengthen privacy protections and allow for meaningful uses of data.”
Under ED'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.
The press release expressed that ED welcomes public comments to the proposed regulations, noting that citizens have 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register to submit written comments and that all responses will be carefully reviewed with the goal of publishing a final rule by the end of this year. The full NPRM may be found at: http://www.ed.gov/fpco. The public is encouraged to comment at: www.regulations.gov by the deadline of May 23, 2011.