1 SIMS Version 2.0 Data Standards Handbook for the Massachusetts Student Information Management System Reference Guide Version 3.3 October 1, 2004
2 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 1 2 SIMS Version 2.0 Data Standards Handbook for the Massachusetts Student Information Management System Reference Guide Version 3.3 TABLE OF CONTENTS SECTION 1 OVERVIEW STUDENT INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM SECTION 2 STATE STUDENT REGISTRATION SYSTEM STATE STUDENT REGISTRATION SYSTEM System Design LOCALLY ASSIGNED STUDENT IDENTIFIER District Responsibility SECTION 3 LEGAL ADVISORY I. PURPOSES AND GOALS OF THE STUDENT INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM II. GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF HOW THE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED III. RELEVANT STATUTORY PROVISIONS The Department s Authority to Establish Student IMS Confidentiality of Student Records IV. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS The Department s Legal Authority to Establish and Implement the System Confidentiality of the Student Information Management System The Student Identifier Race and National Origin Income Information Data Correction Additional Questions SECTION 4 DATA STANDARDS SELECTION PROCESS REPORTING DISTRICTS DATA STANDARDS DESCRIPTION LIST OF SIMS VERSION 2.0 DATA ELEMENTS SECTION 5 APPENDICES APPENDIX A CODES FOR MASSACHUSETTS CITIES AND TOWNS APPENDIX B LANGUAGE CODES APPENDIX C COUNTRY CODES APPENDIX D PUBLIC SCHOOL AND COLLABORATIVE CODES APPENDIX E-PRIVATE SCHOOL CODES APPENDIX E2-PRIVATE SCHOOL AND COLLABORATIVE CODES ALPAHBETIZED BY NAME APPENDIX F CHAPTER 74 PROGRAM CODES APPENDIX G NON CHAPTER 74 PROGRAM CODES APPENDIX H ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSE CODES APPENDIX J DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENT DATA STANDARDS APPENDIX K ACCEPTABLE ASCII CHARACTERS APPENDIX L SPECIAL EDUCATION DEFINITIONS APPENDIX M - COMPETENCY ATTAINMENT ~ CERTIFICATES AND MILESTONES/ACHIEVEMENTS...141
3 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 1 3 Section 1 Overview The Massachusetts Department of Education is developing a comprehensive, web-based system to replace the paper-based data collection and information exchange system between the Department and school districts. The new system is being designed, in part, to reduce the administrative burden of data collection and reporting for both the Department and districts while improving the timeliness and accuracy of information. The new system will consist of four strands - student, educator, school/district and internal Department of Education. The strands represent different parts of the education system in Massachusetts and each has particular requirements that will be addressed by the development of software applications. Student Information Management System The cornerstone of this project is the Student Information Management System (SIMS) that will support Education Reform requirements for student assessment and evaluation of school programs. The most significant of these requirements - the student assessment program - creates the need to collect information about individual students since assessment results will be used to certify each student's eligibility for a high school diploma. In addition, the Education Reform requirements that focus on accountability and evaluation of program effectiveness can be met only with information on each student and the program in which the student is involved. Consequently, the SIMS must be able to track individual students across the state over time in order to match students with tests scores accurately and must collect the information necessary to meet the requirements of Education Reform and mandated state and federal reporting. These requirements of the SIMS presented two major questions to address in the design and development process: How will each student's information be identified over time in order to match records accurately? What data elements should be collected for each student in Massachusetts Public s? The Department of Education has been working on the design and development of the SIMS since May The approval of the Category 1 Data Standards represents the first step in the implementation of SIMS in all districts in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Student Information Management System Data Standards Handbook is intended to provide public school districts in Massachusetts with the information needed to implement the SIMS Data Standards. Section 2 describes the design of the State Student Registration System that will be used to track students across the state over time. Section 3 presents a legal advisory that addresses legal issues involved in the development of the Student Information Management System, in particular, confidentiality and privacy. Section 4 provides a detailed description of the required data elements and the standards for collecting, maintaining and reporting them within the SIMS. Section 5 provides appendices that contain code values for data elements and additional information relevant to the SIMS.
4 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 2 4 Section 2 State Student Registration System The Student Information Management System requires a student identifier in order to track students within and across districts over time. An identifier is a set of characters used as a proxy for name to identify an individual uniquely. Using an identifier: Allows an individual s record from one submission of data to be linked to the student s record in other submissions. Enables the data to be stored and searched efficiently. Helps to maintain necessary confidentiality and security of student information. In order to meet the requirements of the Education Reform Act, the Student Information Management System must be designed such that an unduplicated, unique and permanent student identifier is assigned to each student in Massachusetts public schools. Further, the records of an individual student must be matched accurately over time while keeping each student s information confidential and secure. Two different student identifiers will be used to provide accurate matching of student data over time and to ensure that student information at both the state and local level will be secure and confidential. One identifier will be assigned and managed at the state level (SASID); the other will be created and managed at the district level (LASID). Each student record submitted to the Department of Education by a school district must contain both identifiers. The identifiers must have different values. State Student Registration System The State Student Registration System will manage the assignment and verification of the State-Assigned Student Identifiers (SASID). This system is described below and in Diagrams 1 and The Department of Education will be responsible for assigning state unique student identifiers to all students in Massachusetts public schools. 2. The unique student identifier assigned to each student will be a new number to be used for the Student Information Management System. 3. Districts must maintain individual student records with a locally assigned student identifier that is unique within the district over time. The local student identifier is required for the initial assignment of the state student identifier, to allow matching of 1999 MCAS data with scores from subsequent years and to provide security for the state assigned student identifier at the local district. 4. After the initial assignment of student identifiers to all students enrolled in Massachusetts public schools, districts will be responsible for verifying the state student identifier for each new student who enrolls in the district, using the web-based, State Student Registration System. Students will need to provide their State Assigned Student Identifier when they register in a new district. (Diagram 1, State Student Registration System, describes the process of verifying/assigning a student identifier to a new student.) SYSTEM DESIGN 1. The State Student Registration System will provide a secure and confidential approach to assigning identification numbers and will prevent unnecessary access to student information. Student data will be separated into four databases the Student Directory Database, the CrossWalk Database, the Central Student Database and the District Database (containing aggregate information only). No single database will have complete information on students. Diagram 2 (Student Information Management System) illustrates the design of the system.
5 Massachusetts Department of Education Page The Student Directory database will contain a minimum set of information for each student that is necessary to verify and/or assign an identifier. Appropriate district staff will have secured access to this database. 3. The central student database will contain the student information transmitted by school districts. This database will not contain the state-assigned student identifier and, therefore, the data will be anonymous. A crosswalk file will allow authorized users to link student information with the student identifier. No access outside the Department of Education to either the crosswalk database nor the central student database will exist. 4. Student data will be aggregated to the school, district and state levels. The school and district data will be available to the public. Locally Assigned Student Identifier The Education Reform Act and the Category 1 Data Standards require that districts must have a Locally Assigned Student Identifier (LASID) for each student in the district. The Locally Assigned Student Identifier must be created and maintained by the district to provide a unique identifier for students within the district over time and be submitted with all individual data submitted to the Department of Education. The LASID and the State Assigned Student Identifier (SASID) combine to increase the accuracy of matching student records over time. In addition, the use of a local identifier allows the state identifier to be held secure, as appropriate, at the local district and allows local districts to maintain control of their own student information systems without depending on the state assigned student identifier. DISTRICT RESPONSIBILITY The Student Information Management System requires school districts to: Create a Locally Assigned Student Identifier (LASID) for each student in the district that is unique across district, across programs and, over time, is unduplicated and permanent (See Appendix F). The LASID must have the following characteristics: 1. The identifier must identify one and only one student 2. A student must have only one local identifier 3. The identifier must exist for that student as long as the student's records are maintained by the district Maintain the LASID on all student records that will be submitted to the Department of Education. Match the State Assigned Student Identification number (SASID) with the LASID. Include both the SASID and LASID in each student s record that is submitted to the Department of Education. The values of these two identifiers must be different. The following Category 1 Data ents will be used to create the Student Directory database that will be the basis of the assignment and verification of the State Assigned Student Identifier: DOE001 DOE003 DOE004 DOE005 DOE006 DOE008 DOE009 DOE014 Data ent Locally Assigned Student Identifier First Name Middle Name Last Name Date of Birth City/Town of Birth Gender City/Town of Residence
6 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 6 Section 3 Legal Advisory I. Purposes and Goals of the Student Information Management System The Education Reform Act of 1993 requires the Board of Education to adopt a system for evaluating the performance of public school districts and the individual schools within them on an annual basis. The system must include a mechanism for measuring whether student performance is or is not improving from year to year. In addition, the Department of Education is regularly called upon to collect data from schools for other purposes, such as awarding grants, conducting studies to determine the effectiveness of our educational systems, reporting to the U.S. Department of Education on uses of federal funds, and measuring compliance with federal and state education laws. The Department of Education is developing a Student Information Management System (SIMS) that will enable it to track the educational performance of each public school student in the Commonwealth and to fulfill many of its reporting and oversight functions. The system, as presently designed, requires each school district to supply to the Department individual student information on 35 data elements several times each year. The data elements are set forth in Section 4 of this Handbook. The system is fully automated, which will allow schools to send the required information to the Department electronically and reduce the administrative burden on the schools of responding to requests for information. SIMS will make it possible to use information for legitimate educational purposes, while at the same time complying with the state and federal legal requirements for protecting the confidentiality of individual student data. The purpose of this advisory is to review those requirements as they apply to SIMS, and to answer common questions concerning their application to the system. II. General Description of How the System Is Designed Under SIMS, public school districts will be responsible for inputting the data element information for each student within their district. Almost all of the information required under this system is currently collected and retained by schools in a paper or electronic format for each student. Hence, the new system does not materially change local school district data collection responsibilities. The rules concerning what information school officials may or may not ask or require students to provide remain the same under the new system. Some of those rules are discussed below. Local schools have always been the primary repository of individualized student records. This will not change under the new system. Under both state and federal law, school districts have a responsibility under the new electronic system to protect individual student records from unwarranted or unauthorized disclosure, just as they had under the old paper system. Restricted access to the system can and must be achieved through the use of electronic security systems which allow those persons with a legitimate educational purpose to have access to the records. Under the old system, school districts were annually required to provide some individual student data, and a great amount of aggregated data concerning all students, to the Department. With or without an electronic system, demands for individual student data are increasing under the requirements of Education Reform. Under SIMS, schools will be required only to input responses for each data element for each student. The system will then automatically aggregate the information as needed.
7 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 7 Once the individual student information is entered into the system by local school officials, the system will be able to verify whether any formatting errors have occurred and provide local officials with an opportunity to correct them. Once this process is completed, the information will be ready for transmission to the Department over the Internet. The system will encrypt (i.e., disguise) the information before it is sent over the Internet, so as to protect it from access by unauthorized persons. The encrypted information will be unrecognizable as student information. When the encrypted data reaches the Department, it will be loaded into the Department s system and converted into three separate databases. One, the Student Directory database, will contain only identifying information, such as the student identification number, name, date of birth, city/town of birth and gender of each student. The second, the central student database, will contain an internal reference number that has been produced by the crosswalk database and the other data elements for each student. It will not include the name contained in the Student Directory database nor the student identification number. The third, the cross-walk or cross-reference table, will contain the student identification number matched to the internal reference number. The central student database will contain responses to each data element for each student, but will not allow anyone who has access to that database actually to identify the student to whom those data elements apply. Authorized personnel at the Department and in the school districts will be able to access data in only the student directory database and not the data in the central student database, except on a specific need to know basis. For instance, Department personnel assigned to ensure that an individual student does not receive more than one student identification number or that more than one student does not have the same identification number will be granted access to the Student Directory database. Access to the Student Directory database will not in and of itself allow personnel to identify the information applicable to an individual student that is located in the central student database. This is because the internal reference numbers in the central student database cannot be matched with the student identification numbers in the Student Directory database through simple, visual comparison. A student s identity cannot be known without access to all three databases. Such access will be granted on a case-bycase basis by the Commissioner, only on a strict need to know basis. Only under very limited circumstances will any personnel at the Department need to access the crosswalk table and thereby be able to identify the information in the central database that is applicable to an identified student. Examples of such circumstances include an administrator required to respond to parental requests for access to their children s records (see Part IV, Question 3); personnel responsible for verifying the current location of state wards for financing purposes; and personnel responsible for tracking students in the school choice or charter school programs to verify data in the case of disputes over which school districts are financially responsible for which students. There are several advantages to sending individual student data to the Department electronically in an unaggregated form. First and foremost, it will allow the Department to aggregate the data in different ways to determine progress under Education Reform more precisely. Through this process, the Department will be able to measure student performance across school districts and according to different demographic factors. For instance, the Department will be able to determine whether test scores are lower for students with a certain primary language and, if necessary, to work with schools to design programs to address that issue, as is required by Education Reform. In addition, the system using unique student identifiers will enable the Department to track the educational progress of a student who moves from one district to another, even if the student has the same name as another student in the state. Also, since school districts no longer will have to aggregate student data in order to provide reports to the Department, local educators will be able to focus more of their time and energy on providing educational services to the students.
8 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 8 III. Relevant Statutory Provisions THE DEPARTMENT S AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH STUDENT IMS G.L. c. 69, section 1I authorizes the Department of Education to establish SIMS. It requires the Board to adopt a system for evaluating on an annual basis the performance of both public school districts and individual public schools. This system shall include instruments designed to assess the extent to which schools and districts succeed in improving or fail to improve student performance. G.L. c. 69, section 1I, paragraph 1. The system shall be designed both to measure outcomes and results regarding student performance, and to improve the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction.... Section 1I, paragraph 2. In order to facilitate this evaluation process, each school district is required to maintain records on every student and employee. Each student record shall contain a unique and confidential identification number, basic demographic information, program and course information, and such other information as the department shall determine necessary. Said records shall conform to the parameters established by the department. Section 1I, paragraph 6. As part of this evaluation process, [t]he commissioner [of education] is authorized and directed to gather information, including the information specified herein and such other information as the board shall require, for the purposes of evaluating individual public schools, school districts, and the efficacy and equity of state and federal mandated programs. All information filed pursuant to this section shall be filed in the manner and form prescribed by the department. Section 1I, paragraph 5. The statute also provides that [e]ach school district shall furnish to the department in a timely manner such additional information as the department shall request. Section 1I, paragraph 8. In short, the Department is expressly authorized and directed by state statute to collect from schools information about the performance of individual students, in the format prescribed by the Department. In addition, federal law requires the Department to report to the U.S. Secretary of Education on uses of federal education funds by the State. Federal law allows the Department of Education to receive studentspecific information from local schools for the purpose of auditing, evaluating and enforcing the legal requirements associated with state and federally funded education programs. See 20 U.S.C. section 1232g(b)(3) and (5). CONFIDENTIALITY OF STUDENT RECORDS Confidentiality of student records is required by both state and federal law. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires state and local education agencies to protect the privacy of education records that contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained by an educational agency or institution. See 20 U.S.C. section 1232g. The entries in SIMS for individual students therefore qualify as education records within the meaning of FERPA. Absent written consent from the parent or student, or a valid court order, FERPA generally prohibits the release of education records to anyone other than local school officials, or federal and state education agencies with legitimate educational interests in the information. Limited exceptions apply and are discussed below in Part IV. Federal and state educational agencies, as well as organizations conducting studies on behalf of educational agencies, generally must maintain student information in a manner that will not allow others to identify the students or their parents. 20 U.S.C. section 1232g (b)(3). On the state level, Massachusetts General Laws c. 71, section 34D delegates to the Board of Education the duty and authority to adopt regulations governing the maintenance of student records. 1 In accordance with 1 Section 34D provides that [t]he board of education shall adopt regulations relative to the maintenance, retention, duplication, storage and periodic destruction of student records by the public elementary and secondary schools of the commonwealth. The only substantive requirement imposed by the statute is that such regulations must allow the parent or guardian of any pupil to inspect the student s school records.
9 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 9 this section, the Board has adopted the regulations codified at 603 CMR These are commonly referred to as the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations. The term student record is defined at 603 CMR as consisting of the transcript and the temporary record, including all information -- recording and computer tapes, microfilm, microfiche, or any other materials -- regardless of physical form or characteristics concerning a student that is organized on the basis of the student s name or in a way that such student may be individually identified, and that is kept by the public schools of the Commonwealth. The term as used shall mean all such information and materials regardless of where they are located, except for the information and materials specifically exempted by 603 CMR The information to be included in SIMS therefore falls within the definition of student record in 603 CMR and must be kept confidential in accordance with those regulations. Confidentiality of student records under the Massachusetts regulations is governed by 603 CMR The general rule is that, other than local school officials who need access to such records in the performance of their official duties, the student or the student s parent or guardian, no third party may have access to information in or from a student record without the written consent of the student (if he or she is age 14 or older or has entered the 9th grade, i.e., is an eligible student), or the student s parent or guardian. As under federal law, the state regulations permit limited exceptions, which allow release of some or all of such information without written consent. See 603 CMR (4). These exceptions include release to federal, state or local education officials as necessary to audit, evaluate or enforce federal or state education laws or programs. Such officials are generally required, however, to protect the information so that other parties cannot identify the students or their parents, and to destroy data that would allow individual students or their parents to be identified after the data are no longer needed for the audit, evaluation or enforcement action. In addition, such education officials may receive the information only on condition that they will not release the information to any other third party without the written consent of the parent or the student. Although the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations apply only to schools and school districts, the Department is also subject to stringent confidentiality requirements pursuant to the Massachusetts Fair Information Practices Act (FIPA), G.L. c. 66A. Under that statute, state agencies which are in possession of personal data from which an individual may be identified, including individual student records, may not release that information to third parties in the absence of a federal or state statute requiring disclosure, consent from the data subject, or a court order. Release pursuant to a court order is not allowed until the data subject has been given sufficient notice to allow him or her to seek to overturn the court order. Accordingly, schools are authorized and required to release the data requested through SIMS to the Department of Education. However, except where specifically authorized by law, neither the schools nor See also G.L. c. 71, section 34A (establishing student s right to receive copy of transcript); G.L. c. 71, section 34E (establishing right of parent or guardian, and of student age eighteen or older, to inspect school records). 2 The transcript, as used in the definition of student record, is narrowly defined as administrative records that constitute the minimum data necessary to reflect the student s educational progress and to operate the educational system. These data shall be limited to the name, address, and phone number of the student; his/her birth date; name, address, and phone number of the parent or guardian; course titles, grades (or the equivalent when grades are not applicable), course credit, grade level completed, and the year completed. In contrast, the temporary record is broadly defined to consist of all the information in the student record which is not contained in the transcript.
10 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 10 the Department may release individually identifiable student data to any other third parties, without the written consent of the parent or the eligible student. IV. Questions and Answers THE DEPARTMENT S LEGAL AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH AND IMPLEMENT THE SYSTEM 1. Does the Department have the legal authority to require public school districts to provide information through SIMS? A. Yes. See the discussion in Part III. A, above. The Department has clear legal authority to require each school district (including charter schools) to provide the requested information in this format. 2. Must a school or school district obtain parental consent to release individual student data, including information in SIMS, to the Department of Education? A. No. The Massachusetts Student Records Regulations, as well as federal law, authorize school districts to release student records to the Department of Education without the prior consent of the parent or student. 3. May a parent prevent a school district from participating in SIMS with respect to an individual student? A. No. However, parents have a legal right to review their child s education records to ensure accuracy of the information contained in them. CONFIDENTIALITY OF THE STUDENT INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM 4. May parents obtain access to the information the Department maintains and collects regarding their children? A. Yes. Federal law requires state educational agencies, including the Department, to allow parents to inspect and review any educational records the agency collects and maintains regarding their children. Under the federal law, students who are eighteen or older have the right to inspect and review their own educational records. 5. May any person working within the school district have access to student records, including the information in SIMS? A. No. Federal and state law both require that access to student records be limited to those persons who, in the performance of their official duties, have a legitimate educational reason for accessing individual student records. It is the responsibility of superintendents and principals to ensure that this restriction is honored. 6. May someone obtain access under the Public Records Law to individual student data maintained by the Department or by local school districts? A. No. Individual student data is not subject to disclosure under the Public Records Law, G.L. c. 66, 10. The mandatory disclosure provisions of the Public Records Law do not apply to records that are exempt from disclosure by statute, or the disclosure of which may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Individual student data is protected from disclosure by federal statute, as well as the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations and the Fair
11 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 11 Information Practices Act (FIPA), G.L. c. 66A. Disclosure of individual student data, other than that which falls within the definition of directory information under FERPA, may also constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Thus it is not subject to disclosure under the Public Records Law. 7. May the Department share personally identifiable student data, including information in SIMS, with state or local agencies without the written consent of the parent or the eligible student? A. No. Because of the restrictions contained in FIPA, which are not applicable to school districts, the Department may not share such information with other state or local agencies, except under the very limited circumstances authorized by FIPA discussed in Part III.B, above. 8. May school officials share personally identifiable student data, including information in SIMS, with state or local agencies, other than the Department of Education, without the written consent of the parent or eligible student? A. As a general matter the answer is no. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule: 1) As discussed in question 1 above, no written consent is required to release student record information to the Department of Education. 2) Basic information that falls within the scope of directory information under FERPA, may be disclosed to third parties, including other state or local agencies. 3 This is reflected in the state regulations at 603 CMR 23.07(4)(a). However, under both state and federal law, even this information cannot be disclosed to third persons or agencies, except as discussed below, unless and until the local school or the Department gives public notice of the types of information to be released and eligible students and parents have been given a reasonable time after such notice to inform the school or the Department that such information should not be released without their consent. Note: This process of public notice does not have to be undertaken prior to releasing any student specific information to the Department, to officials within the student s school district who have a legitimate educational reason for access, to officials within another school district in which the student is seeking to enroll who have a legitimate educational reason for access, or to the other specific persons or agencies referenced in FERPA. See 20 U.S.C. section 1232g(b). 3) FERPA allows disclosure of student records to state or local officials to whom a state statute allows such disclosure in connection with juvenile justice proceedings. Hence, student records may be disclosed to probation officers conducting an investigation pursuant to G.L. c. 119, section 57, to a judge who requests such information concerning a student who will be appearing before the court as provided in G.L. c. 119, section 69, and to the Department of Youth Services when a student has been committed to that Department s care, pursuant to G.L. c. 119, section 69A. See 603 CMR 23.07(4)(c). 3 "Directory information, within the meaning of FERPA, includes the student s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, participation in recognized school activities, weight and height of members of athletic teams, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, and the most recent educational institution attended. It may be disclosed to third parties without written consent or court order, provided that the school district has followed the notice requirements set forth in the regulations. However, according to the federal regulations, directory information is only that information contained in an education record which would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. 34 CFR See 603 CMR 23.07(4)(a) (also authorizing release of information consistent with the definition of directory information ).
12 Massachusetts Department of Education Page ) FERPA also allows disclosure upon receipt of a subpoena from a court of law, provided that the parents and the student are notified of the subpoena before documents are provided in response to it. See 603 CMR 23.07(4)(b). 5) FERPA also allows disclosure to appropriate persons in an emergency situation if the knowledge of such information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other persons. For this reason, student information, where relevant, may be released to law enforcement authorities or to the Department of Social Services investigating a report of abuse or neglect pursuant to G.L. c. 71, section 37L and G.L. c. 119, section 51A or 51B. See 603 CMR 23.07(4)(e). 6) If a governmental agency, such as the Department of Social Services, has been made the legal guardian of a student, that agency may receive the student records. See 603 CMR (definition of parent). However, the provision of services to a student by a state or local agency does not in and of itself justify disclosure of student records to that agency without parental or eligible student consent. 7) FERPA and the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations also allow disclosure without parental or student consent to officials of other schools or school systems in which the student is enrolling or seeking to enroll, and to authorized representatives of the U.S. Department of Education and the Massachusetts Department of Education. 9. May third parties who receive student-specific information from either the Department or the schools disclose that information to others? A. No. Under the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations, personally identifiable information from a student record may only be released to a third party on the condition that he/she will not permit any other third party to have access to such information without the written consent of the eligible student or parent. In addition, FERPA requires that personal information shall only be transferred to a third party on the condition that such party will not permit any other party to have access to such information without the written consent of the parents of the student. In other words, even a third party who is authorized to receive student record information, must safeguard the confidentiality of that information. 10. Are there any penalties for unauthorized access to the Student Information Management System? A. Yes. State law was amended in 1994 to impose criminal penalties against anyone who gains unauthorized access to any computer system. See G.L. c. 266, section 120F. THE STUDENT IDENTIFIER 11. Why is the Department gathering names of students when each student will have a unique student identifier? A. Both the identifier and the name, as well as other demographic data such as gender and date of birth, are needed in order to ensure a reliable system to track students educational progress, as required by Education Reform. If a student leaves one school district and later enrolls in another, a central repository of both name and identifier is needed to be sure the student is reassigned the original identifier. Likewise, the identifier is needed to differentiate students in the same or different districts with the same name, or to identify students who may use different names at different times.
13 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 13 RACE AND NATIONAL ORIGIN 12. What is the Department s authority to require school districts to collect and maintain individualized information regarding a student s race or national origin? A. G. L. c. 69, 1I requires school districts to collect and maintain basic demographic data for each student. This includes information regarding gender, age, ethnicity, national origin and race. The Department uses this information to track demographic trends, to carry out its responsibilities under state law (for example, under the state racial imbalance law) and to ensure that students are receiving equal opportunities. In addition, federal law requires the Department to report such information to the U.S. Department of Education for purposes of monitoring enforcement of civil rights laws. 13. Is it legal for a school district to ask parents or students to identify themselves by race, ethnicity or national origin? A. Yes. The law does not prohibit school officials from asking parents or students to identify themselves by race, ethnicity or national origin, so long as this information is not required as a condition of admission to school. districts may not require parents or students to identify themselves on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin. If a parent declines to provide this information, local school officials must make their own good faith determination as to the race, ethnicity or national origin of the student. 14. What ethnicity and race categories are used in SIMS? A. SIMS uses the federal reporting categories described in Statistics Policy Directive 15, Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting. The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently issued a new directive revising the race and ethnicity criteria to be used for census and other federal reporting purposes. SIMS has been designed to comply with that new directive; however, districts will continue to use the existing reporting categories until the Department of Education's reporting requirements change. INCOME INFORMATION 15. May schools ask students about their family income without parental consent? A. No. The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment to FERPA expressly provides that, in the absence of parental consent, no student shall be required to answer questions that would reveal information about income. The only exception is if the student is applying to an education program for which income status determines eligibility for participation or financial assistance. See 20 U.S.C. section 1232h. Therefore, in the absence of parental consent, students cannot be asked or required to disclose their family s income or their eligibility for food stamps or other welfare benefits, unless they are applying for free or reduced price lunches or other school benefits based on income eligibility.
14 Massachusetts Department of Education Page May a school district rely on a student s income eligibility for free or reduced price lunches under the National Lunch Act in order to respond to the low income data element in SIMS? A. Yes. Federal law was amended in 1994 to allow use and disclosure of such information to persons directly connected with federal or state education programs. 4 districts are not being asked to state specifically whether a student is eligible for free or reduced price lunches, but only whether the student meets one or more of the criteria for being low income, one of which is eligibility for free or reduced price lunches. Aggregated data as to the number of students eligible for free or reduced price lunches may still be provided to the public and others. 17. May a school district that has learned, based on disclosures by DTA as part of the Learnfare program, that a student is eligible for transitional assistance or AFDC benefits, rely on that eligibility status to answer the low income questions in SIMS? A. Yes. Neither federal nor state law prohibits transmitting that eligibility information to the Department or relying on it t o answer the low income questions. However, neither schools nor the Department should release that information to any third party without written consent of the parent or eligible student. 18. How else may a school district determine whether a student meets the definition of a low income student for purposes of the low income and Perkins eligibility data elements in the SIMS? A. s may ask parents whether their child meets any of the definitions of low income status. s should also continue to use whatever other legal means they have historically used to gather such information for purposes of calculating their foundation budgets under Education Reform, determining the district s eligibility for Title I funds, and determining teacher eligibility for reductions in Perkins loan repayments. DATA CORRECTION 19. What procedures should a school district follow if it determines through parental input or otherwise that a piece of information already transmitted to the Department in SIMS is inaccurate? A. If a district learns that any piece of information concerning an individual student is inaccurate, it should simply record the correct data in its next submission to the Department. The more current and accurate information will automatically replace the old, inaccurate information in the Department s databases. Since these transmissions will generally occur at least four times per year, the records will be updated on a regular basis. 4 As amended, the law allows the disclosure of income eligibility for free and reduced price lunches to certain persons, including a person directly connected with the administration or enforcement of (aa) a federal education program, (bb) a State health or education program administered by a State or local educational agency...; or (cc) a Federal, State, or local means-tested nutrition program with eligibility standards comparable to the National Lunch program. 42 U.S.C. section 1758(b)(2)(C)(iii). Criminal penalties apply to persons who receive such income eligibility information pursuant to this section and then improperly use it for purposes unrelated to the educational program or improperly disclose it to third parties. Section 1758(b)(2)(C)(v).
15 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 3 15 ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS 20. What is the legal minimum and maximum age for which Massachusetts is responsible for educating children? A. The compulsory school attendance law, G.L. c. 76, 1, requires every child between the ages of 6 to 16 to attend school. Each school committee may establish the permissible ages for school attendance, as long as the minimum age is not older than age 6, nor the maximum younger than age 16. However, because federal and state law requires school districts to provide special education services to students with disabilities who are ages 3 through 21 (unless the students have a high school diploma or its equivalent), we advise school officials to set the maximum age limit at no lower than 22 nd birthday. 21. Can school districts require a birth certificate to confirm the student s identity? A. Massachusetts law does not require presentation of a birth certificate for school entry. However, a school district may request a birth certificate or a baptismal certificate showing the date of birth, as proof that a child meets its minimum school entry age. 22. May a school district use the State Assigned Student Identifier (SASID) on student identification cards? No. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires state and local education agencies and institutions to protect the privacy of education records, which it broadly defines to include any information directly related to a student which is maintained by an educational agency or institution. See 20 U.S.C. section 1232g. In addition, the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations require school districts to protect the confidentiality of student records, which are defined as including any information concerning a student that is organized on the basis of the student s name or in a way that such student may be individually identified, and that is kept by the public schools. See 603 CMR Since the SASID is information that is directly related to a student, is organized in a way that the student may be individually identified and is kept or maintained by the schools, the SASID qualifies as an education record within the meaning of FERPA and as a student record within the meaning of the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations. Both FERPA and the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations, with certain limited exceptions, generally prohibits school districts from releasing education or student records to third parties, without the written consent of the student, or the student s parent or guardian. Since school districts are required by both state and federal laws to protect the confidentiality of student records and the SASID is a student record, school districts are required to protect the confidentiality of the SASID. It would be impossible for a school district to ensure the confidentiality of the SASID if it were to be placed on a student identification card or used any other type of identification system that would allow the SASID to be displayed. Therefore, it is our opinion that the placement of the SASID on a student identification card is prohibited by FERPA and the Massachusetts Student Record Regulations.
16 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 4 16 Section 4 Data Standards The Category 1 Data Standards define the information that districts are required to maintain and submit to the Department of Education for each student. The Category 1 Data Standards specify common definitions, formats and reporting categories for 35 data elements for the first phase of the implementation of the Student Information Management Systems (SIMS). Other data elements may be identified in the future as the system expands or as reporting requirements change. Selection Process The Department of Education has been developing the Data Standards for two years. This process is described in Appendix G. The Data ents selected for the first phase of SIMS implementation were those data elements that would replace as much existing paper-based reporting as possible. were required for federal or state reporting. would be reasonable to require from districts in the first phase of implementation. The following paper-based data collection forms are represented in the Category 1 Data ents: Individual Report Enrollment by Grade Enrollment by Gender Enrollment by Race Enrollment by First Language Enrollment by Limited English Proficiency Enrollment by Residence Migrant Student Enrollment Low Income Student Enrollment Foundation Enrollment Report Enrollment by grade Low Income Student Enrollment System Summary Report - Special Education Tables Transitional Bilingual Annual Report Special Education December 1 Count Year End Indicator Report Attendance Plans of Graduates Drop Out Returned Drop Out Report Emergency Immigrant Assistance Program Report Reporting Districts In order to fulfill the Department's reporting requirements (and, consequently, eliminate paper-based, aggregate reporting), every student who is educated with public funds during the current school year must be counted. The Department of Education is required to collect data on students, depending on the particular statutory or regulatory requirements, from both: The district that pays for the student's education (sending district or the district with fiscal responsibility); and The district that provides the student's education directly (receiving district or enrolling district)
17 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 4 17 For most students, the district that pays for a student s education is the district that provides the education directly. (The student resides in the district and attends the district s public schools.) The sending and receiving district are the same. In some instances, one district pays for the student s education and a second district provides the education services directly. (tuitioned students, school choice students, charter school students, etc.) Districts are required to submit data for each student enrolled in the district at any time during the current school year, and for each student for whom the district is financially responsible at any time during the current school year. When two districts are involved in a student s education, each district must submit a student record to the Department of Education. The Data Standards specify which data elements should be submitted by the sending and which by the receiving district. Districts having out-placed SPED students (enrolled in private facilities or collaboratives) who are the financial responsibility of the reporting district must report all 52 data elements for these students.
18 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 4 18 Data Standards Description This section of the Handbook specifies the standard definition, format, code descriptions and values for each of the 52 Category 1 Data ents that districts must provide. The record for each student must meet the following requirements: Include all 35 data elements Contain No Blank Values Use appropriate codes to indicate either the sending district is not required to report a particular data element (code=555) or the receiving district has determined the data element does not apply to a student (code=500). The code 00 is used to indicate a receiving district has determined that the student does not participate in a particular program or does not meet the definition of eligibility defined by the data element. The following information is provided for each Data ent: Name Definition Data Type Maximum Length Minimum Length Reporting District Code Descriptions Use Instructions Acceptable Values Format Requirements Dependency Name of the Data ent A brief definition of the element Alphanumeric, Integer, or Decimal The maximum number of characters allowed The minimum number of characters allowed Specification of whether the sending and/or receiving district is required to submit the data element. The code values and a definition of each value that should be used A description of how the Massachusetts Department of Education uses the information represented by the data elements Detailed information about how the district should collect and report the data element A list of the values that are acceptable to be submitted to the Department of Education. Codes = Only codes specified by the Department of Education can be submitted Map = District codes can be mapped to the standard codes in the consolidation function of the student filter No values listed = Any value of the proper type and length is acceptable Specification of any format requirements that exist for the values of the data element Specification of other data elements and values on which the data element is dependent
19 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 4-19 List of SIMS Version 2.0 Data ents DOE001 Locally Assigned Student Identifier (LASID) A code, assigned and maintained by the local school district, that is unique for each student in the district over time. DOE002 State Assigned Student Identifier (SASID) A unique number assigned to an individual by the Massachusetts Department of Education. DOE003 First Name A name given to an individual at birth, baptism, or during another naming ceremony, or through legal change. DOE004 Middle Name A secondary name given to an individual at birth, baptism, or during another naming ceremony, or through legal change. DOE005 Last Name The name borne in common by members of a family. DOE006 Date of Birth The month, day, and year on which an individual was born. DOE007 Date of Birth Format A code that indicates the format of the value of Data ent DOE006 - Date of Birth. DOE008 City/Town of Birth The name of the city (or comparable unit) in which an individual was born. DOE009 Gender The classification of a student as male or female. DOE010 Race The general racial category which most clearly reflects the individual's recognition of his or her community or with which the individual most identifies. DOE011 Reason for Reporting An indication of the basis on which a district is reporting a student - financial responsibility, enrollment or both. If the student is not enrolled at the time of reporting, or if the Reason for Enrollment has changed over time, the indication should represent the most recent reason for reporting. DOE012 Enrollment Status at Time of Data Collection An indication, as of the specified time of data collection (e.g., October 1), of the enrollment status of each student who has been enrolled or for whom the district paid for education services at any time during the current school year. DOE013 Reason for Enrollment An indication of the reason for a student's enrollment in the receiving school district. The indication should represent the reason for the most recent enrollment, if the student is not enrolled at the time of reporting or the current Reason for Enrollment if the reason has changed over time.
20 Massachusetts Department of Education Page 4-20 DOE014 City/Town of Residence - Student The 3-digit code for the city or town where the student lives at the time of reporting or the student's last known city or town of residence if the reporting district is no longer sending or receiving the student. DOE015 Identification Number Each school in Massachusetts has a 4-digit code assigned by DOE. In combination with the 4-digit district code, each school in MA has a unique, 8-digit code number. Each student's record must contain the 8-digit code of the school in which the student is enrolled at the time of reporting or the code for the student's last known school of enrollment if the reporting district is no longer sending or receiving the student. DOE016 Grade Level Grade in which student is enrolled as of most recent enrollment. DOE017 Days in Attendance Cumulative number of days a member student has been present in the district from the beginning of the current school year to the time of reporting (e.g., October 1). DOE018 Days in Membership Cumulative number of days a student has been enrolled in the district from the beginning of the current school year to the time of reporting (e.g., October 1). DOE019 Low Income Status An indication of whether the student meets ANY ONE of the following definitions of low income: 1. The student is eligible for free or reduced price lunch; or 2. The student receives Transitional Aid to Families benefits; or 3. The student is eligible for food stamps DOE020 Title 1 Participation An indication of the type of Title I Services in which a student is enrolled at the specified time of reporting (e.g. October 1) DOE021 Migrant Status An indication of whether an individual or a parent/guardian accompanying an individual maintains primary employment in one or more agricultural or fishing activities on a seasonal or other temporary basis and establishes a temporary residence for the purposes of such employment. DOE022 Emergency Immigration Education Program Status An indication of whether a student is eligible for the Emergency Immigrant Education Program. To be eligible for this program, a student must 1. Not have been born in any State*; AND 2. Not have completed 3 full academic years of school in any state If a student is eligible, Data ent DOE023, Country of Origin must be provided. DOE023 Country of Origin Country of Origin is the country from which immigrant children have emigrated. DOE024 First (Native) Language Native language is the specific language or dialect first learned by an individual or first used by the parent/guardian with a child. This term is often referred to as primary language.