• October 22, 2014

Education Department Develops Strategy for Student-Record Databases

The Obama administration is stepping up its drive to compile detailed records on all students from preschool through adult employment, forming a panel of "national experts" to find ways of creating such databases while resolving political and legal concerns over privacy.

The Bush administration tried to form such a student-record database on the national level, believing schools and colleges would perform better if they had detailed lifetime feedback on the successes and failures of their students.

But Congress blocked the nationwide effort, in large part because of objections from private colleges, and instead allocated money to encourage states to build their own systems. Now the Obama administration is trying to coordinate those state efforts while complying with privacy laws on both the state and federal levels.

A panel of 20 to 30 experts convened by the Education Department is meeting this month and plans within two months to issue a set of specific recommendations for use by state officials in assembling databases that will include records of individual student performance throughout their educational and job careers. The department has asked the "task force of national experts to identify ways to share information with the public while protecting individual privacy," said a department spokesman, Justin Hamilton. --Paul Basken

Comments

1. educationsheeo - February 11, 2010 at 03:46 pm

Have the panel members been identified?

2. ddawley - February 12, 2010 at 03:02 pm

I don't think that a National Database is necessary ... I would much rather see the Feds help States to standardize definitions and assist in the creation/maintenance of State databases (P-20). I know they do some now; however, the technology involved is expensive and requires a great deal of Human Resources to appropriately run and maintain.

3. wlregistrarir - February 13, 2010 at 12:55 am

One way to resolve "legal concerns over privacy" is to employ, retain, and trust the head of the Family Policy Compliance Office, which administers FERPA. Hmmm, didn't we just see something about how much the Ed Dept values privacy? Paul Gammill.

4. rduniway - February 16, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Privacy is certainly a concern to be managed, but there is a long history in many industries and organizations of using security concerns as an excuse to do nothing. In this case the something we are avoiding is actually collecting the data to know how well students are doing in the entire higher education ecosystem. If we really put the welfare of our students first we should all be anxious to have better data on how they are actually faring in the current system. While the results are likely to make many of us uncomfortable, denial is seldom an efficient path toward improvement.

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