Students who change schools frequently tend to have worse academic outcomes than their peers. This can result from not sharing education records with the new school in a timely manner, which can lead to delayed enrollment, ill-informed class placement, discontinued services, or even safety issues. Data portability has the potential to address some of these needs; however, that potential must be considered along with a complex legal landscape (aspects of which are discussed in the appendices of this brief) and the privacy harms that sharing information can create, especially for students who are changing schools the most. These privacy harms can include jeopardizing physical safety, creating social stigmas, and biased decisionmaking.
To mitigate these harms and harness the potential of data portability to help students when they change schools, education practitioners and companies should adopt a data minimization approach that limits data collection, sharing, and access to only what is necessary to improve outcomes for students when they change schools. This includes creating policies that balance the potential positive and negative uses of academic, demographic, health, well-being, special education, and other information, as well as reinforcing a shared responsibility to effectively use that data and protect privacy.