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Chronicle of Higher Ed article discusses state data warehouses and pending changes to FERPA regulations

This story from the Chronicle of Higher Education ("Huge Databases Offer a Research Gold Mine — and Privacy Worries") discusses state data warehouses with extensive information on students in the context of pending changes to regulations under the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Here is a link to the notice of proposed rulemaking.

Article quote:
"The most celebrated example is Florida, which began in 2001 to assemble a "data warehouse" that allows officials to track a person’s progress from kindergarten through graduate school and beyond, including postcollege wages and employment, military service, incarceration, and receipt of public assistance.  Many researchers say that Florida’s system, along with somewhat less ambitious education databases in Texas, Washington, and roughly a dozen other states, is a vital tool for assessing schools and colleges and helping them to improve."

Excerpt from the Proposed Rules:

These proposed regulations would implement section 507 of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot Act) of 2001 (Pub. L. 107-56), enacted Oct. 26, 2001, and the Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act, section 1601(d) of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-386), enacted Oct. 28, 2000, both of which amended FERPA. The proposed regulations also would implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Owasso Independent School Dist. No. I-011 v. Falvo, 534 U.S. 426 (2002) (Owasso) and Gonzaga University v. Doe, 536 U.S. 273 (2002) (Gonzaga). Finally, the proposed regulations respond to changes in information technology and address other issues identified through the Department’s experience administering FERPA, including the need to clarify how postsecondary institutions may share information with parents and other parties in light of the tragic events at Virginia Tech in April 2007. The Department has developed these proposed regulations in accordance with its “Principles for Regulating,” which are intended to ensure that the Department regulates in the most flexible, equitable, and least burdensome way possible. These proposed regulations seek to provide the greatest flexibility to State and local governments and schools while ensuring that personally identifiable information about students remains protected from unauthorized disclosure.

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