Safeguarding the privacy and confidentiality of student data

The WVDE has multiple protections in place that outline the roles and responsibilities of educational staff across the state to safeguard the privacy of student data. In addition to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – the federal law that all state education agencies, districts, and schools must follow—West Virginia has three other formal layers of protection for students. In March of 2014 the Student Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act (also called the Student DATA Act, introduced as HB 4316) was passed, which outlines rules and responsibilities of the WVDE, districts, and schools with regard to managing student data and privacy. The WV Board of Education Policy 4350 also outlines our responsibilities, and the WVDE Data Access and Management Guidance describes the standard operating procedures followed with regard to protecting student data.

Learn more by clicking on the links below.

Privacy concerns and complaints

If you believe that a student’s records have been disclosed to someone who should not have access to them, we want to know. When you submit a complaint about a privacy violation, we will begin investigating the issue right away. We will work closely with you, school staff, and district officials to make sure we have all the information we need to figure out what happened, why, and what needs to be done to fix it—both at the moment and in the future as well. To get the process started, submit one of the forms linked below:

Protecting human subjects in WVDE research studies

The WVDE maintains an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that is responsible for oversight of all human subjects research projects undertaken by WVDE staff. Its primary goal is to ensure that research subjects are adequately informed of their rights as study participants. Further, the IRB is charged with educating WVDE researchers about requirements to ensure the risks associated with participation in research activities, however small, are minimized.

Maintaining security

WVDE works proactively to maintain security within our education information system—from the classroom to the state department. Federal and state privacy policies guide our work to ensure that our students’ information is safe in our data system and is used only for legitimate educational purposes.

Technical security

WVDE has several levels of policy and procedure to safeguard our students’ educational records. The department uses various technical security measures—like encrypting sensitive data during transmission and using secure log-on credentials to limit access according to staff roles and information needs.

WVDE staff work to stay informed about the latest practices in using technology to secure information. Updates to security systems and procedures are introduced as needed to ensure that the best possible measures are used to secure our students’ data. To learn more about the security of our network design, click on Zoom WV Network Design.

Limiting access

To access any individual student data within the West Virginia Education Information System and ZoomWV, a staff member must have a signed security agreement on file describing the reason he/she needs access and approved by a supervisor. After being granted access, all staff must complete a training session describing their responsibilities with respect to the security and privacy of student data. Staff members only have access to a limited amount of information based on their needs for doing their jobs to support schools and students’ achievement.

Data governance

In addition to maintaining policies and formal procedures to protect student data, WVDE employs staff charged with the task of working across the Department and throughout the state to ensure that all staff remember the importance of protecting students’ records and implement best practices to do so. District and school staff participate in data privacy and security trainings regularly across the state to review and discuss federal and state laws and policies, strategies for keeping information safe, and approaches for dealing with requests for access to student records