Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FERPA Used to Block Tracking Student Data

In SRI's work, we have suddenly begun seeing community college faculty cite FERPA when we request even anonymous student data, such as classroom work with a student's name blotted out. This was all baffling to us, and then we saw this report. Apparently FERPA has wound up in the center of a tug-o'-war between the U.S. Department of Education and higher education institutions. The education department seeks to create databases that track students from one level of education to another and then into the workforce. Such data are considered a primary way to see how well different institutions prepare students "in aggregate." One of the best tracking approaches involves seeing how students educated at one institution perform at the next level of education. Privacy advocates are raising the heat, but it does appear much light, on this matter--hence the responses we're seeing from faculty.

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