Privacy and Data Sharing
Educational institutions across the country rely on sharing data, often sharing student information with those outside the school or district in order to improve classroom instruction, to measure student outcomes, and facilitate implementation of educational applications to evaluate the effectiveness of educational programs. While the general rule under FERPA is that personally identifiable information from education records cannot be disclosed without written consent, FERPA includes exceptions that permit data sharing under certain conditions with agencies, vendors, or individuals to conduct studies, audit or evaluate programs, enforce or comply with related Federal legal requirements, or in the case of arespond to health or safety emergencies. In addition, in some circumstances, FERPA allows educational institutions to share these data student information with contractors, volunteers, or other individuals performing services for the educational institution. In many cases, written agreements and must be developed to protect student data, and the requirements differ depending on the conditions and parties involved. The following resources address the topic of data sharing, and are intended to provide best practices and legal requirements for protecting student privacy while sharing data between educational agencies and partner organizationsother third parties:
- The FERPA Exceptions Cheat Sheet provides a quick and easy look at the three most commonly used Exceptions under FERPA.
- The Guidance for Reasonable Methods and Written Agreements provides stakeholders with information about requirements and best practices for data disclosures under the studies exception and the audit or evaluation exception, as specified in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
- The Written Agreement Checklist documents the requirements for written agreements under the studies and audit or evaluation exception. It also lists elements that, while not required, are considered to be best practices.
- The FERPA 201 Interactive Training module offers in depth examples on how school officials can navigate the legal requirements involved in sharing FERPA-p Protected iInformation.
- The Guidance on Integrated Data Systems (IDS) and Student Privacy clarifies how educational authorities can participate in an IDS while remaining compliant with FERPA.
- The Guidance on the use of Financial Aid Information for Program Evaluation and Research provides postsecondary educational authorities clarification on the conditions under which federal student financial aid information may be used for program evaluation and research purposes.
- The Joint Guidance on Data Matching to Facilitate WIOA Performance Reporting and Evaluation, developed by the Departments of Education and Labor, explains how educational agencies can match personally identifiable information in education records and personal information in Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) records with wage records held by the Sstate agency responsible for administration of the Sstate's unemployment compensation (UC) program.