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Statistical Standards Program

Confidentiality Procedures

NCES is required by law to develop and enforce standards designed to protect individually identifiable information of its respondents. This requirement includes protecting the information during the collection, analysis, reporting, and publication of the data.

The Statistical Standards Program has two major functions in the area of information protection. First, the Program houses the Disclosure Review Board (DRB) comprised of members from each NCES Division, representatives from the Statistical Standards Program, and a member from each of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Centers. The DRB reviews disclosure risk analyses conducted by IES and NCES staff and contractors to ensure that data released do not disclose the identity of any individual respondent. The DRB approves the procedures implemented to de-identify the data that are released in public-use files. The DRB also approves the procedures used to remove direct identifiers from restricted-use data files. In the case of nationally representative sample surveys, the DRB also approves the procedures used to add perturbations to the data as a method of data protection.

The second major activity in this area is the restricted-use data license program. The licensing program provides external researchers access to individually identifiable IES and NCES data that are covered under Federal statutes and regulations by subjecting authorized researchers to the laws, regulations, and penalties that apply to use of confidential data held by IES. Under the license agreement, authorized researchers are subject to unannounced site inspections.

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