The Department of Education should encourage the adoption of standards for electronic educational records records to
allow schools to support each student with a more complete digital picture.
- The U.S. Department of Education should support and accelerate the adoption of electronic educational records capability among states and local education agencies. It should also set standards for sharing this information so data can be transferred across states.
- The U.S. Department of Education should support any secure authentication strategy developed by the Federal Chief Information Officer that permits private, decentralized identification of educational agencies, students and their data records.
- The U.S. Department of Education should recommend to Congress updates to student data privacy and protection laws that would improve online educational services.
Information in an electronic educational record could include student demographic and academic information as well as course history, student work, attendance and health data.
Electronic educational records also could include information about teachers, schools, curriculum and other administrative data.
Complete pictures of student performance need to be available to teachers, principals, districts, states, the federal government, research communities and colleges and universities.
More effective tools and standards are needed to create a national network of data systems to manage and transfer data between organizations while maintaining student privacy.
Many of the existing incentives for local education agencies and states to adopt electronic educational records are insufficient to justify the cost and risk associated with implementation. A more comprehensive solution is required.
The U.S. Department of Education is positioned to convene the necessary stakeholders to develop an effective national solution that accommodates the different needs of the educational agencies across the country.
The federal government needs to:
- Develop standards for electronic educational records and the ability to share this information through interoperability.
- Encourage state and local adoption of electronic education records consistent with these standards.
- Integrate digital authentication.
- Strengthen and modernize privacy and protection laws.
Working toward the goal of national educational data sharing, the U.S. Department of Education should convene stakeholders to adopt the standards by implementing them in ways that make it easier for schools to satisfy reporting requirements or by funding projects that help vendors test and implement the standards in their products.
Privacy and data protection laws for students and their families need to be modernized to reap the full benefit of improved information flow about student performance while still fully protecting student data.
- Issues include whether parents and regulators have the same rights to the data as they have with school records.
- A relatively small change in the law to allow parents to combine data from outside sources with school data would provide a richer picture of students' learning needs so all providers can support them effectively.
- There may also be cases in which fine-grained levels of privacy control are appropriate.
- For example, students should be able to select and share their best work with other educational institutions, the military or future employers from within their digital portfolios or other materials linked to electronic educational records.