Federal Legislation
March 11, 2013

H.R. 112—Measuring and Evaluating Trends for Reliability, Integrity, and Continued Success (METRICS) Act

Action Requested:
No action is requested at this time. HSLDA will continue to monitor this bill and will send out an action e-lert if the bill comes up for a hearing.

Summary:
H.R. 112 gives federal grants to states implementing statewide education data systems designed to link preschool through grade 20 student data with other states.

Status:

1/3/2013 Referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Sponsor: Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12)

Bill Summary and Status H.R. 112

HSLDA’s Position:
Oppose

Background:
While this bill provides federal grants for statewide databases, not a national database, states will be able to receive these grants if their databases have the ability to align between states. This results in a de facto national database, even if the federal government has not specifically created it. Privacy advocates, as well as homeschoolers and private schools, are very concerned about moves toward massive national databases of student-specific data. Even if these databases only include the records of public school students, homeschool students who enroll in a public school class would likely also be included in these databases.

Statewide databases have the potential to increase the risk of identity theft or even put children and their families in danger. The bill has no time limits on the retention of information on students in the databases. Without these time limit retention policies, a homeschool student may take one class at a public school and then have his or her personal information stored in the database indefinitely. Additionally, the bill only requires a minimum of privacy regulations on the statewide databases. The bill only requires that states protect student privacy by following the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which is only enforced by withholding federal funds. A state may violate the provisions of FERPA, and only face a possible loss of certain federal funds. This would be small consolation to a family or student who has lost sensitive personal information.

 Other Resources

Prohibit a National Student Database

Letter from Congressman John Kline (MN) to U.S. Department of Education

Fordham University Study on State Databases

“Student Data Systems, Unite!”