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U.S. Proposes New Education Privacy Rules

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed new regulations on the privacy of educational records, meant to safeguard student data but also to guarantee that states may share data to help judge the effectiveness of school improvement efforts.

The proposed regulations under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 were published April 8 in the Federal Register. (PDF version here.)

Education Week's Sarah D. Sparks discusses the details of the proposed rules and the sharing of student data in a post this week on her blog, Inside School Research.

Sarah also discusses some of the other steps the Education Department is taking, such as the establishment of a chief privacy officer. The department's release is here.

I wanted to highlight a couple of other provisions in the proposed FERPA regulations.

Under the proposed rules, the department would define "education program" for the first time as any program principally engaged in the provision of education. The proposed rules point out that some early childhood, special education, and adult education programs are run not by state or local educational authorities, but by other agencies, such as state human resources departments, which often oversee Head Start programs.

Another provision involves student identification badges. The proposed rules say parents could not use their right to opt out of making public their child's directory information to excuse the child from having to wear a school ID badge.

"The secretary [of education] believes ... that the need for schools and college campuses to implement measures to ensure the safety and security of students is of the utmost importance and that FERPA should not be used as an impediment to achieving student safety," the proposal states.

Comments on the proposed regulations are due by May 23.

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