Rep. Rokita to Hold Hearing on Student Privacy Subcommittee will examine need to update FERPA for 21st century

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, February 12 at 11:15 a.m., the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a hearing to explore the use of new technology in the classroom and examine the need to modernize the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The hearing, entitled “How Emerging Technology Affects Student Privacy,” will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Advancements in classroom technology have become an important tool, enabling educators and researchers to develop new solutions to improve student learning. However, with the benefit of more technology comes the risk of compromising student privacy. The law intended to ensure parents’ rights and safeguard student records, FERPA, has not been significantly updated in 40 years. As a result, parents and students have become vulnerable to the inappropriate use of student data, often without their knowledge or consent.
Thursday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to learn more about the role new technology is playing in classrooms and school accountability, its impact on student privacy, and the need to advance reforms that will strengthen student privacy protections.
To learn more about the hearing, click here.


Ms. Shannon Sevier
Vice President for Advocacy
National Parent Teacher Association
San Antonio, TX

Ms. Allyson Knox
Director of Education Policy and Programs
Washington, D.C.

Dr. Sheryl R. Abshire
Chief Technology Officer
Calcasieu Parish Public Schools
Lake Charles, LA

Mr. Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director
Center on Law and Information Policy
Fordham Law School
New York, NY

Department Releases New Guidance on Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services

Here, from the Department of Education. An excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) released new guidance today to help school systems and educators interpret and understand the major laws and best practices protecting student privacy while using online educational services.

The guidance summarizes the major requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) that relate to these educational services, and urges schools and districts to go beyond compliance to follow best practices for outsourcing school functions using online educational services, including computer software, mobile applications and web-based tools.

“As an education community, we have to do a far better job of helping teachers and administrators understand technology and data issues so that they can appropriately protect privacy while ensuring teachers and students have access to effective and safe tools,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We must provide our schools, teachers and students cutting-edge learning tools—and we must protect our children’s privacy. We can accomplish both—but we will have to try harder to do it.”

Other great privacy resources can be seen here.

Use of Data by School Districts

A good article regarding the evolving use of data by school districts.  A quote:

Now, the bulk of student data is housed in a consolidated student-information system that teachers can use to create assessments, score them, and get the results analyzed immediately, giving them the power to adjust their teaching based on what they’re seeing and analyzing in real time. Gone are the days of waiting weeks, or even months, to get data about student academic performance.

“It’s had a huge impact,” said Dan Grossnicklaus, the student-information-systems manager for the 11,000-student district. “In the past, the results were more like an autopsy—not much you can do after the fact. Now there can be an intervention before a student leaves the class.”

This further shows the importance of data in education, and why Tribes and TEDs need to have streamlined access to that data to support their students.  FERPA was recently amended, but it still generally does not allow Tribes and TEDs to access data without a prior consent form.