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Resources :: Guide :: Research in an educational setting :: State and federal law :: Obtaining information from student records

Obtaining Data from Student Records

As stated in the previous page, FERPA and Virginia State Code 22.1-287 protect student records and there are specific rules for obtaining data from the records.

In order to obtain identifiable information from a student record, the student’s parent or the eligible student must provide a signed and dated written consent to the school’s administration before an educational agency or institution discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records.

The written consent must:
•           Specify the records that may be disclosed;
•           State the purpose of the disclosure; and
•           Identify the party or class of parties to whom the disclosure may be made.

The student’s parent or the eligible student can also request a copy of the records disclosed to the researcher.  In addition, signed and dated written consent may include a record and signature in electronic form that:
•           Identifies and authenticates a particular person as the source of the electronic consent; and
•           Indicates such person's approval of the information contained in the electronic consent.

Disclosures without consent
The following identifying information can be disclosed without consent:
•           Schools may disclose without consent directory information on current students after providing parents the opportunity to opt out
•           Schools may disclose without consent directory information on former students
•           Directory information includes name, address, telephone #, date and place of birth, honors and awards, dates of attendance

Virginia Code also allows the disclosure of information concerning participation in athletics and other school activities, the winning of scholastic or other honors and awards, and other like information.

Obtaining de-identified information from a student record:
FERPA allows schools to release data to researchers without the student’s consent.  You must be from an organization conducting studies for or on behalf of the school or an organization conducting studies for or on behalf of educational agencies or institutions.  The purpose of your research should be to:
•           Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;
•           Administer student aid programs; or
•           Improve instruction.
(If your study meets the above requirements, it will also be considered "normal educational practice" and qualify for exemption.)

Conditions of Disclosure
In order for schools to disclose de-identified data, the following apply:
•           Identities must be kept confidential and presented in a manner that prevents identification
•           Information is destroyed when no longer needed for the purposes for which study was conducted

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