Any decision to share data, especially across agencies, requires careful deliberation and diverse stakeholder engagement to minimize unintended consequences to students and their families. Sharing data always involves risk, and potential harm to students and their families is not limited to inadvertent disclosures. It can also include violating parents’ and students’ expectations, increasing administrative burden, and using data in biased manners that limit educational opportunities for students and potentially violate their civil rights.
At the same time that practitioners and policymakers are considering if and when to share data, they are faced with legal requirements and policy demands that require sharing student information. Data is shared today across agencies to meet legal requirements, follow federal guidance, provide basic services to individuals, and support efforts to serve vulnerable students. Privacy efforts have largely been focused on ensuring data sharing is legally compliant, but protecting students requires more than legal compliance. This technical guide offers best practices to meet data sharing needs while protecting student privacy.