The Migrant Education Program (MEP) is a federally funded effort to improve the student achievement of children whose parents are migrant workers. Because families with migrant worker parents move more often, it is especially important to make student information accessible to the school leaders that need it. The Migrant Student Information Exchange (MSIX) was developed to make it easier for school officials to access the records of students who move to new school districts and states.
The Data Quality Campaign believes that data are most valuable when they are used to answer the right questions—empowering parents, teachers, and school leaders to make informed decisions that shape students’ success. Here are a few questions to consider as the US Department of Education (ED) implements a new rule that makes state participation in MSIX mandatory.
How will MSIX improve student achievement?
MSIX helps ensure students enter the appropriate grade level and course placement. It also ensures more accurate accrual of secondary coursework, without which some students may inadvertently be kept from graduating high school.
MSIX also ensures schools have access to their students vaccination records, eliminating the burden of re-administering immunizations to students because a lack of information.
Does the MSIX safeguard student privacy?
Yes. ED’s latest regulation incorporates safeguards to protect student privacy in MSIX. This includes requirements to ensure all data submitted into students’ record are accurate and that safeguards exist to protect the integrity, security, and confidentiality of consolidated migrant student records in MSIX.
Does MSIX promote data literacy?
Yes. ED plans to require state education agencies (SEAs) to develop and disseminate guidance and to provide training to SEA, local operating agency, and local education agency personnel who will be using the MSIX.
DQC believes that investing in the data literacy of all relevant stakeholders, such as educators and parents, is essential to improving student achievement. Therefore we encourage ED to seek opportunities to promote data literacy as it rolls out the implementation of MSIX.
Will states have to create a new data system to meet the requirements of MSIX?
No. As states implement MSIX, they may utilize their existing local and statewide data systems. For example, states can use their statewide longitudinal data systems to meet the MSIX requirements as long as it contains the necessary information on migrant children.
How does MSIX fit into the larger data picture?
In addition to improving outcomes for individual students, MSIX presents a new opportunity to obtain accurate and timely data on the migrant student population. DQC is encouraged by ED’s plans to use MSIX and to provide stakeholders with aggregate census data and statistics on the national migrant population and to generate accurate child counts.
Will mandatory implementation of MSIX put an increased administrative burden on states?
As states expand their data collection efforts, DQC suggests that federal and state leaders work together to ensure that MSIX-related data collections are not duplicative of data collections from other federal agencies, such as the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor, as well as Education.
MSIX offers states and localities a real chance to improve educational and health outcomes for the children of migrant workers. In the proposed rulemaking, ED clearly places value on having the right student data at the right time in order for school leaders and families to make the right choices regarding individual students.
This week, EducationCounsel, an education consulting firm specializing in education law, released a comprehensive legislation guide for state policymakers and anyone else involved in the development of education data privacy and security policies. This document is designed to help policymakers craft legislation that safeguards student privacy by empowering leadership, establishing clear data governance, ensuring transparency around the data collected and their use, and enacting best-practice security procedures.
EducationCounsel’s document contains three sections:
2. A state legislation/policy checklist that distills the points discussed in the guidance section into a clear list of foundational elements for privacy and security policies.
3. Model legislative language that transforms the policy guidance and state examples into a full bill template that states can use and adapt to create their own policies.
A. A statement of the purposes of the state's privacy policies and an acknowledgment of the educational value of data;
B. A state leader and advisory board responsible for ensuring appropriate privacy and security protections;
C. A public data inventory and an understandable description of the specific data elements included;
D. Strategies for promoting transparency and public knowledge about data use, storage, retention, destruction, and protections;
E. Statewide policies for governing personally identifiable information; and
F. A statewide data security plan to address administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.
Together these principles seek to provide a framework for high quality student privacy policies in a way that allows for flexibility given the differing governing models of the states while still ensuring comprehensive and effective privacy protections. Hopefully this document can be a powerful guide for states and anyone interested in supporting the effective use of education data by implementing good governance and safeguards.