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]. Are you a member of the Working Group? You can access past Working Group notes and resources here.


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

Ensuring School Safety While Also Protecting Privacy: FPF Testimony Before the Federal Commission on School Safety
FPF Testifies Before Congress on Promoting and Protecting Student Privacy
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May 17, 2018 | Erika Ross

FPF Testifies Before Congress on Promoting and Protecting Student Privacy

Washington, D.C– Today, Future of Privacy Forum’s (FPF) Amelia Vance, Director of the Education Privacy Project, will deliver testimony in a hearing before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, “Protecting Privacy, Promoting Data Security: Exploring How Schools and States Keep Data Safe.” In her prepared testimony, Vance will comment on how states, districts and ed tech companies can work together in ensuring student privacy.

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New US Dept of Ed Finding: Schools Cannot Require Parents or Students to Waive Their FERPA Rights Through Ed Tech Company’s Terms of Service
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January 19, 2018 | Amelia Vance

New US Dept of Ed Finding: Schools Cannot Require Parents or Students to Waive Their FERPA Rights Through Ed Tech Company’s Terms of Service

Policymakers, parents, and privacy advocates have long asked whether FERPA is up to the task of protecting student privacy in the 21st century. A just-released letter regarding the Agora Cyber Charter School might signal that a FERPA compliance crack-down – frequently mentioned as their next step after providing extensive guidance by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) employees at conferences throughout 2017 – has begun. The Agora letter provides crucial guidance to schools and ed tech companies about how USED interprets FERPA’s requirements regarding parental consent and ed tech products’ terms of service, and it may predict USED’s enforcement priorities going forward.

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