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ED Finalizing New Data Privacy, Grant-Making Rules

As part of a move to simplify grant and other education regulations, the U.S. Department of Education said it expects to have final revisions of data privacy regulations for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act out by the end of the year.

In a rules analysis report released last week, the Education Department said it had received about 274 comments on the proposed privacy rules it released in April. (Privacy chief Kathleen Styles already noted that this was more than double the public response to the FERPA rules released in 2008.) The changes would, among other things, allow states to enter into data-sharing agreements with researchers on behalf of multiple districts, and would hold anyone who works with student data to the same privacy protection standards required of the agencies that collect it.

The department also vowed by the end of the year to update research and reporting rules for its discretionary grants to eliminate obsolete and outdated procedures. Researchers and educators can expect several changes to the federal Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval, or EDGAR, system, including:

• New rules on how grantees must collect data to demonstrate their performance;
• Revised selection criteria that peer reviewers use to evaluate grant applications; and
• New procedures for grantees to choose research sites and evaluators.

The department expects to complete a draft proposal of the new rules for public comment early next spring.

(And a hat-tip to Jim Kohlmoos of the Knowledge Alliance for pointing out some of the buried details in the report.)

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