New Rules Would Allow for Broader Sharing of Student Records

The Department of Education will release new rules today that will make it easier for states to develop data systems to track students’ academic progress and evaluate education programs.

The proposed new rules would allow high-school administrators and state officials to share student-level data with researchers, auditors, and other agencies without violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, or Ferpa.

The changes are being welcomed by education reformers but criticized by privacy advocates, who fear they could undermine longstanding student protections. Under Ferpa, colleges must generally obtain a student’s consent to release data from an education record.

In an effort to strike a balance between privacy and accountability, the department has hired a chief privacy officer and created a technical-assistance center to advise states, schools, and colleges on privacy and data security.

But critics of the rule say such efforts won’t do enough to protect students in the face of expanded data-sharing.

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