Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

The Department of Education (ED) has amended the Family Educational Rights and Privacy
Act (FERPA) to ensure that ED continues to implement FERPA in a way that protects the privacy of education records while allowing for the effective use of data. Protecting student privacy helps achieve a number of important goals, including avoiding discrimination, identity theft, as well as other malicious and damaging criminal acts. The amendments reflected in these final regulations establish the procedures that state and local educational authorities, and federal agencies conducting studies must follow to ensure compliance with FERPA by expanding the requirements for written agreements and ED’s enforcement mechanisms, the amendments help to ensure increased accountability on the part of those with access to personally identifiable information (PII) from education records. These amendments include definitions for two previously undefined terms, ‘‘authorized representative’’ and ‘‘education program,’’ to permit greater access by appropriate and authorized parties to information on students in order to evaluate the effectiveness of education programs. Specifically, ED has modified the definition of and requirements related to ‘‘directory information’’ to clarify (1) that the right to opt out of the disclosure of directory information under FERPA does not include the right to refuse to wear, or otherwise disclose, a student identification (ID) card or badge; (2) that schools may implement a limited directory information policy in which they specify the parties or purposes for which the information is disclosed; and (3) ED’s authority to hold State educational authorities and other recipients of ED funds under a program administered by the Secretary accountable for compliance with FERPA. ED believes that the regulatory changes adopted in these final regulations provide clarification on many important issues that have arisen over time with regard to how FERPA applies to statewide longitudinal data systems (SLDS) and to other requests for data on student progress. These regulations are effective January 3, 2012.

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