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State Data Systems and Privacy Concerns: Strategies for Balancing Public Interests

Jack Mills

Better institutional systems for collecting and reporting student outcome data could help institutional, state, and national policymakers improve those outcomes, yet the collection of data confronts another powerful public interest: individual privacy. This policy brief, prepared for Achieving the Dream, a national initiative to increase the success of underserved groups in community colleges, explores how states can balance the interests of accountability and privacy. It describes how the five Achieving the Dream states and several other states have addressed the collection and use of student record data within the limits and constraints set by federal privacy laws, with particular reference to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Achieving the Dream is funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education.