About this Issue

Student records have become digitized and more technological tools are added to college campuses every day. At the same time, higher education institutions are expanding their use of “Big Data” technology. The use of statistical analysis to gain insights into complex issues faced by colleges and universities allows these institutions to explore new ways to support their students, manage their administration, and evaluate their programs. However, as education increasingly utilizes and is shaped by technology, privacy challenges can arise.

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FPF believes that there are critical improvements to learning that are enabled by data and technology, and that the use of data and technology is not antithetical to protecting student privacy. In order to facilitate this balance, FPF equips and connects advocates, industry, policymakers, and practitioners with substantive practices, policies, and other solutions to address education privacy challenges

Ongoing Projects:

FERPA|SHERPA: FERPA|Sherpa: The Education Privacy Resource Center is a website that helps all education privacy stakeholders learn the basics, keep informed about the latest news, laws, and resources, and better communicate how to ensure education privacy while allowing for the good use of data and technology in education. It includes specific resource pages for K-12 officials, higher ed officials, parents, students, industry, and policymakers.
Working Groups: FPF runs a higher education privacy working group to explore privacy concerns related to predictive analytics, big data, ethics, and data infrastructure in higher education. This group includes ed tech companies, education data advocates, academics, and practitioners.
Guidance to Postsecondary Advocates and Institutions: FPF provides advice, resources, and technical assistance on privacy challenges faced by higher education data advocates and postsecondary institutions. FPF works closely with the Postsecondary Data Collaborative, a coalition formed by the Institute of Higher Education Policy of 40 organizations advocating for high-quality postsecondary data to improve student outcomes.
Privacy Newsletter: FPF’s newsletter provides updates on current events, state and federal legislation, and new resources for subscribers.
Tracking State and Federal Legislation: FPF tracks, analyzes, and, as needed, provides comments on state and federal student privacy legislation. FPF members have access to our state legislation tracking sheet for each legislative year.
Student Privacy Bootcamps: FPF runs student privacy bootcamps through the U.S. for small and startup ed tech companies to provide training on US privacy laws, best practices, and advocates’ concerns.

Top Resources:

19 Times Data Analysis Empowered Students and Schools is FPF’s report demonstrating the power of data. The report shows schools, districts, parents, and students current trends and outcomes and inspires ways to make those outcomes better.
Student Data and De-Identification: Understanding DeIdentification of Education Records and Related Requirements of FERPA provides an overview of tools that can be used to de-identify data to various degrees, based on the type of information involved, and the relative risks of the re-identification of individuals and the unintended disclosure of personal data.

Working Group Meetings

Higher Education Working Group meetings are generally held Fridays from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM ET. FPF members are welcome to join these discussions. If you would like call-in information (or to be added to the working group), please contact Amelia Vance at [email protected].


Want to learn more, join our newsletter or a working group, or become an FPF member? Contact Education Policy Counsel Amelia Vance at [email protected].

FPF Commends New America’s Report on Predictive Analytics in Higher Education

October 24, 2016 | Brenda Leong

FPF Commends New America’s Report on Predictive Analytics in Higher Education

New America released a report today that addresses the use of data in higher ed analytics – predicting student outcomes and managing university academic programs based on prior data. The growing ability to gather and analyze this data allows colleges to intervene with students struggle, put in place mentoring programs, create support structures addressing “whole student” welfare, ultimately improving academic outcomes and graduation rates.

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What's Happening: Higher Ed

Bipartisan Report: Feds Should Connect Student Data While Protecting Privacy
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September 7, 2017 | Amelia Vance

Bipartisan Report: Feds Should Connect Student Data While Protecting Privacy

Today, the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking released their final report. The Commission was created through bi-partisan legislation in 2016 to “consider how to strengthen government’s evidence-building and policymaking efforts” (page 16). One of the key issues that the Commission heard from advocates on all sides about whether to overturn the current federal ban on connecting education data collected by the federal government in order to provide students, postsecondary institutions, and the public with information that could be used to improve policies or better target federal funding.

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Future of Privacy Forum Welcomes New Leader for Student Data Privacy Program
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November 7, 2016 | Melanie Bates

Future of Privacy Forum Welcomes New Leader for Student Data Privacy Program

Washington, DC – Today, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) announced that Amelia Vance has joined the organization as Policy Counsel. Her portfolio includes student privacy for K-12 and Higher Education environments, and education technology initiatives. Vance leads FPF’s work to ensure the responsible use of student data and education technology in schools, helping educators with resources and information, and seeking inputs from all stakeholders to ensure students succeed.

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Privacy plays major role in new federal government guidance on transgender student rights