U.S. Plans New Rules on Student Privacy

April 28, 2010

The U.S. Education Department announced on Monday that it would propose new regulations governing student privacy rights in the next several weeks. In an announcement in the Federal Register, the department said that it would revise rules to carry out the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, with two goals in mind. One would be to "strengthen enforcement" of the law, commonly known as FERPA; the other would be to "clarify" how states can use information from statewide longitudinal data systems to inform policy decisions without running afoul of the student privacy law. The regulations are likely to be controversial, especially on the latter point; privacy advocates argue that the Obama administration risks running afoul of federal law in how it is encouraging states to collect and share data about students' academic performance with work force agencies within their states and, potentially, agencies in other states.

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