More Than 1,100 Sign Letter Opposing Student Privacy Bill
June 2015


The education research community, led by AERA and the Knowledge Alliance, sent Senator David Vitter (R-LA) a letter signed by more than 1,100 organizations and individuals opposing the Student Privacy Protection Act (S. 1341), a bill he introduced.

As noted in the May AERA Highlights, the Student Privacy Protection Act is an effort to amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). AERA and the research community are opposed to the bill’s provisions that would heavily constrain—if not make impossible—the ability to conduct research and evaluations in education.

Specifically, the research community is concerned that S. 1341 would:

  • Undermine the scientific validity of representative student data by requiring parents to opt-in to releasing student data for research.
  • Eliminate access to data necessary to generate research for educational agencies and institutions and prevent use of district and state administrative data, due to requiring that these data be “aggregated, anonymized, and de-identified.”
  • Drastically curtail the ability to collect information on student learning and teacher performance that informs critical classroom improvements by prohibiting federal funding for the collection of any psychological data.

“This bill would have devastating consequences on the use of information for school improvement and the field of education research. In the end, the casualty of such a bill would be the quality of education provided to students in our country,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “While we share a strong commitment for protecting student privacy, this bill essentially throws out the baby with the bathwater.”

AERA is continuing to monitor this bill as it is expected to be introduced as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, the Senate bill to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

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