Partnership Profiles

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Photo Credit: Bacon’s Rebellion

The Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) is an educational data system that tracks student records from K-12 and after the student enters the workforce. Ultimately it will provide information to allow policy makers to make more informed decisions and assess what programs are successful. VLDS is directed and managed by five agencies including:

  • The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC)
  • The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)
  • The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV)
  • The Virginia Community College System (VCCS)
  • The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA)

The Virginia Employment Commission is the department that can answer questions such as: how much an occupation pays in an area, what are the fastest or slowest jobs in an area, what’s the unemployment rate, what training institutions are in the area, along with profiles for demographic, economic, and educational data. VEC is one of the data providers for VLDS.

The Virginia Department of Education’s purpose is to ensure that students are educated in the fundamental knowledge and subjects they need in order to become responsible, self-reliant, and capable citizens. VDOE works together with the Virginia Board of Directors and the superintendent of public instruction to ensure this. VDOE   is another data provider and the grant awardee for VLDS.

Established by the governor and General Assembly in 1956 The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia’s mission is making recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly. The areas in which they work include enrollment projections, institutional technology needs, capital and operating budget. SCHEV is another major data provider for VLDS.

The Virginia Community College System delivers quality higher education and workforce training throughout the 23 community colleges (and 40 campuses) in Virginia. VCCS provides data such as the number of students enrolled in the colleges, average tuition and fees, percentage of college graduates, the number of employers served through workforce programs and much more. VCCS is the follow-up data provider for VLDS.

The Virginia Information Technology Agency’s purpose is to provide data technology and services that allow the government to serve Virginia citizens. Their duties include governance of the Commonwealth’s information security, operation of the IT infrastructure, procurement of technology for VITA, and more.  VITA is the technology developer for VLDS.

Also assisting with the project is the Virginia Polytechnic Institution (Virginia Tech) who serves as a technology partner and develops the data adapters. Another partner is the Center for Innovative Technology which also assists with the technology for VLDS. -LL

Privacy of Educational Records

I remember as a child always trying my best to stay out of trouble because I knew it would go on my “permanent record” for the rest of my life. Well I grew up, and as I grew up I heard less and less about my permanent record or who got to see it and what it was for. Lucky for us there are laws set in place to make sure that your educational records and information aren’t just available for anyone to get their hands on.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law applying to all educational institutions and agencies that receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education, including private and postsecondary schools. But, what constitutes an educational record? As defined by the National Center for Education Statistics: Education records include a range of information about a student that is maintained in schools in any recorded way, such as handwriting, print, computer media, video or audio tape, film, microfilm, and microfiche. Examples are:

• Date and place of birth, parent(s) and/or guardian addresses, and where parents can be contacted in emergencies;

• Grades, test scores, courses taken, academic specializations and activities, and official letters regarding a student’s status in school;

• Special education records;

• Disciplinary records;

• Medical and health records that the school creates or collects and maintains;

• Documentation of attendance, schools attended, courses taken, awards conferred, and degrees earned;

• Personal information such as a student’s identification code, social security number, picture, or other information that would make it easy to identify or locate a student.

FERPA gives access to these records only to parents (custodial and noncustodial) and the student, as well as giving both parties the right to report inaccurate and misleading information to be amended. Once the student is 18 years of age or decides to attend a postsecondary institution then, all rights under FERPA are transferred to the student. With that said schools are required to give parents public notice of the type of information that is made public, which could include personal information such as name, picture, address, etc. at which point parents may choose to ask all or some of the information to be removed.

The Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) proves to be a useful tool to track and record all of this data safely and securely and provide this valuable information to Virginia educators and policy makers to improve or modify our educational needs.

Below is a brief entertaining video giving insight to the security of educational records. LDL