Data Requests under FERPA

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will discuss how data requests are handled and the steps a school must take to enforce the legitimate educational interests requirement under FERPA.

Data Requests

Schools routinely receive data requests from the press, researchers, military recruiters, the general public, and other outside service providers for information about students. In order to maintain compliance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), there are several steps a school district or post-secondary institution must take to enforce the legitimate educational interests requirement regarding access to student records.

Aggregate Data

The first step toward handling data requests from outside sources is to determine if those records being requested are protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). If the information requested is not protected by FERPA then the school could release that information without the parent or student providing written consent. For example, many schools do not protect directory information and can release this to the public at the school's discretion.

The next step is to aggregate the data so that it does not include personally identifying information about the student so it may be released without consent. While the directory may include data about contact information, student names and attendance dates, aggregate data will include other information and have these personal identifiers removed. Aggregate data about students may include information like grade test scores or attendance records of the whole student body.

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