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Forum Guide to the Privacy of Student Information
NCES 2006-805
July 2006

Appendix A. Key Terms and Definitions

Source: Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information: State and Local Education Agencies. (National Forum on Education Statistics, 2004). Terms marked with an asterisk (*) indicate a consistent definition with FERPA.

C | D | E | I | L | P | S

a person's obligation not to disclose or transmit information to unauthorized parties.
Directory Information*
information contained in a student's education record that would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed.
access, release, or transfer of personally identifiable information about an individual.
Education Agency
a state or local education agency authorized to direct and control public elementary and secondary, or postsecondary, institutions.
Education Institution
an institution or school that provides educational services or instruction, or both, to students.
Education Record*
any information recorded in any way—including, but not limited to, handwriting, print, computer media, videotape or audiotape, electronic files, film, microfilm, and microfiche—that are maintained by education agencies or institutions, or individuals acting on their behalf. Personal notes by teachers or other staff, kept in the sole possession of the maker, used only as memory aid, and not accessible or revealed to any other person except a temporary substitute are not considered part of the education record.
Eligible Student*
a student who has reached the age of 18; or has attended a postsecondary institution, regardless of age.


Informed Consent
an individual's agreement in the context of a written account of why personal information is requested and how it will be used.
Legitimate Educational Interest
information is used within the context of official agency or school business and its use is consistent with the purpose for which it is maintained; access to the information is necessary for school officials to perform tasks related to their position.
a natural or adoptive parent, a legal guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian.
Personally Identifiable Information*
includes the student's name; the name of the student's parent or other family member; the address of the student; a personal identifier, such as the social security number or student number; a list of personal characteristics that would make the student's identity easily traceable; or any other information that would make the student's identity easily traceable.
a uniquely personal right that reflects an individual's freedom from intrusion.
School Official
a person employed by the agency or school in an administrative, counseling, supervisory, academic, student support, or research position; or a person under contract to the agency or school to perform a specified task.
the process that focuses on the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information systems and data.
any person who is or has been in attendance, about whom an agency or institution maintains education records or personally identifiable information.