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Home » Data & Reporting » Data Sharing with OSPI » Student Data Sharing

Student Data Sharing

What data are you looking for?

Early Learning (0-3) or Post Secondary

Data that is rolled up and reported at a school, district, or state level. In some instances, data are not displayed in order to protect student privacy. For additional information on how OSPI protects student privacy please see our Protecting Student Privacy page.

Data Sharing Request Process

The following are the instructions for requesting either student level data or aggregate data that contains small cell sizes (unsuppressed).

Following successful submission of the request, OSPI's Data Sharing Review Panel will consider and review the request. If approved, the requestors must submit a signed Data Sharing Agreement for the request to move forward in the process. The entire process takes approximately three months to complete depending on the timing and complexity of the request.

Step 1: Review Data Sharing Process and Policies

Please review both the Data Sharing Agreement Template and Data-Sharing Process and Policies for Student-Level Data before starting the request form as they contain details about the process, the approval criteria, and the requirements of the agreement.

Note, OSPI does not have the capacity or resources to review individual requests for changes to the Data Sharing Agreement. If you are unable to sign the agreement as is, please notify OSPI that you would like to either cancel the request and/or submit a new request.

In what ways can student information be shared?
De-identified student-level data is student-level information, but names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, district student ID numbers, state student ID numbers, and other fields are removed. Instead, a research ID is attached. The RID has no connection to other data fields such as name or date of birth. OSPI requires a data-sharing agreement for de-identified student-level data.
Identifiable student-level data may be shared only under specific exceptions to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), such as for evaluations or studies that are done on behalf of OSPI or on behalf of districts. Data-sharing agreements are required.

Does OSPI share personally identifiable information on students?
Personally identifiable information is only shared by OSPI if the use qualifies under specific FERPA exceptions.

Doesn't FERPA prohibit sharing of student-level data?
FERPA prohibits sharing of personally identifiable student records, except in certain circumstances. However, FERPA does note that de-identified data may be shared:

FERPA 34 CFR § 99.31 (b)(2): "An educational agency or institution, or a party that has received education records or information from education records under this part, may release de-identified student level data from education records for the purpose of education research..."

Why does OSPI make de-identified data available to researchers?
To help improve education, OSPI may make de-identified datasets available to individuals or organizations requesting student-level data. Research helps us understand which programs are working well and which ones are not. It is better to make informed decisions based on data, rather than making decisions based on anecdotes.

If the data are de-identified, why does OSPI require an agreement?
The data sharing agreement adds a layer of protection that OSPI deems prudent, because the person signing the agreement agrees not to link the information to other sources to try to identify students, nor to report the data in any way that could identify students. Although the data are de-identified, we do not know what additional data resources the recipient has. Therefore, we want to ensure that the recipient does not even attempt to link the de-identified records to other data that might identify individuals. We also deem it prudent to restrict the recipients from further disclosing the data. This has the added benefit of ensuring that the data do not get out to other entities that may try to link it. Researchers must also agree to certain data security measures.

Is OSPI required to share de-identified data?
No. From FERPA (CFR § 99.31(d): "Paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section do not require an educational agency or institution or any other party to disclose education records or information from education records to any party except for parties under paragraph (a)(12) of this section." However, OSPI does have responsibilities under the Public Records Act to make existing records available. This must be balanced with the federal law (FERPA) that protects students' privacy.

Step 2:Complete the Data Sharing Request Form (preview questions)

Related Documentation:

What is required of people seeking student-level data (identifiable or de-identified)?
Prior to approval, the requestor will need to provide detailed information about how the data will be used, which data are being requested, and the expected outcome or product of the research. In addition, the requestor will need to meet certain technical requirements to maintain the security of the data.

The student-level data may only be used to meet one of the purpose or purposes of the study(ies) as stated in agreement with OSPI and for the specified duration. If the requestor seeks to use the data for a purpose or analysis that is not described in the agreement, then the requestor must submit another data request. All requests must be approved by the Data Request Review Panel.

What is the purpose of the Data Sharing Request Form?
Within the form, requestors are:

  • Designating an individual who is directly responsible for managing the data being requested;
  • Providing details on the purpose, scope, and duration of the proposed study(ies);
  • Specifying the data elements and school years being requested and describing how the requested data are necessary to accomplish the research;
  • Identifying a method and date for the destruction of data; and
  • Establishing policies and procedures to protect personally identifiable student information from disclosure and unauthorized use.

When will OSPI review my Data Sharing Request Form?
Unless your request pertains to a legislative requirement, OSPI will review your Data Sharing Request Form in the following months: March, July, and November.

What does OSPI look for when reviewing the data sharing request form?

  • A well-documented research plan which demonstrates that the requestor is prepared to conduct a meaningful analysis. The request must be an endeavor meant to further the understanding of educational practices, methods, and/or theory that is expected to be analyzed through formal, adopted research practice, the results of which will be disseminated in a manner benefiting the educational community and/or general public.
  • Demonstration that the researcher has sufficient knowledge and experience to use the data appropriately, without drawing inaccurate conclusions (e.g., researcher should not subtract scale scores from one year to the next, shows understanding that a student may not necessarily be enrolled at just one school, etc.).
  • Sufficient justification for data requested. Do the research description and plan correspond to the requested data elements /detail? OSPI is verifying that the requested data align with the scope of the project.
  • Adequate explanation of data security. Will the data be received and stored in a secure manner? Will the computer be protected from access by others, etc.?

What data are included in each file?
The following documents provide a list of the elements included in OSPI's standard student-level data files:

What years of data does OSPI share?
Data from the 2009-10 school year and later are shared by OSPI. Due to significant changes in tests and data structure, data prior to the 2009-10 school year will not be shared.

Why is justification required for certain data elements?
In the interest of student privacy, OSPI requires justification for elements that provide sensitive information about students. In our efforts to balance student privacy with the value of education research, we've crafted a standard base file we believe will satisfy most requestors' needs. If your research requires additional data beyond what is provided in that file, you will be asked to provide justification for the specific elements you need by demonstrating how it relates to the scope of your project.

If changes need to be made to the request form following OSPI or Data Sharing Panel review, how do I alter the survey on SurveyGizmo?
After submitting the request form, the requestor will receive an email notification from SurveyGizmo that includes a link to the completed form. You can edit the request form using this link. Additionally, OSPI can provide an edit link upon request.

Assessment Data

Why would I need subscore data?
Subscore data is useful as a diagnostic tool at the student level. If you are requesting data for a teacher dashboard, subscores may be helpful. For most researchers, subscores are not needed, particularly because the level of granularity often prohibits broader conclusions being drawn from the data.

Why would I need CEDARS data add on to an assessment file?
OSPI uses CEDARS data found in the assessment files to generate public reports. The data are pulled from CEDARS at certain dates according to established business rules. If you are attempting to precisely replicate those results, CEDARS data in the assessment file may be helpful. For any request not replicating those results, CEDARS data should be requested apart from the assessment files.

Why would I need detailed accommodations data?
Detailed accommodations data provides information about the specific accommodations provided on assessments. If you are studying the effect of different accommodations on a particular subgroup, detailed accommodations data may be helpful. Most researchers will not need detailed accommodations data since a general accommodations flag, indicating whether a student used any accommodation rather than which accommodations a student used, is typically included in the base file.

Why would I need proctor data?
Proctor data enables identification by classroom and teacher. If you are grouping students by classroom or analyzing teacher performance over time, proctor data may be helpful. Please note that proctor data in the assessment files cannot be linked to CEDARS data.

Step 3: The Data Sharing Review Panel Reviews Request

Timeline: Up to two months for panel review.

How often does the Data Sharing Review Panel meet?
The Data Sharing Review Panel convenes three times each year, in March, July, and November). Requestors are expected to participate remotely in these meetings in case the Data Sharing Review Panel has questions regarding their request.

What is the panel's criteria for data request approval?

  • A well-documented research plan that demonstrates that the requestor is prepared to conduct a meaningful analysis. The request must be an endeavor meant to further the understanding of educational practices, methods, and/or theory that is expected to be analyzed through formal, adopted research practice, the results of which will be disseminated in a manner benefiting the educational community and/or general public.
  • Demonstration that the researcher has sufficient knowledge and experience to use the data appropriately, without drawing inaccurate conclusions (e.g., researcher should not subtract scale scores from one year to the next, shows understanding that a student may not necessarily be enrolled at just one school, etc.).
  • Sufficient justification for data requested. Does the research description and plan correspond to the requested data elements /detail? OSPI is verifying that the requested data aligns with the scope of the project.
  • Adequate explanation of data security. Will the data be received and stored in a secure manner? Will the computer be protected from access by others, etc.?

If changes need to be made to the request form following OSPI or Data Sharing Panel review, how do I alter the survey on SurveyGizmo?
Following the submission of the request form, the requestor will receive an email notification from SurveyGizmo that includes a link to the completed response. Requestors can edit the request form using this link.

If the review panel requests changes or additional information, will I need to wait until the next meeting for another review?
If the panel would like the requestor to make alterations to the request, it is possible that approval would be subject to minor changes that can be facilitated by OSPI staff. If the panel requires major changes to the request, the request would need to be reviewed by the panel again.

Step 4: Sign Data Sharing Agreement

Timeline: Up to two weeks after signed originals are returned to OSPI.

Related Documentation:
Data Sharing Agreement Template

After the data sharing request is approved by the Data Sharing Review Panel, OSPI will prepare a Data Sharing Agreement, which will be sent via email to the requestor. The requestor will need to send the signed original to OSPI. After the signed agreement is received by OSPI, the agreement will be routed through the agency to obtain all necessary signatures. After all signatures are received, the data sharing agreement will be added to the Student Information work queue and the work queue of other departments as appropriate.

There are minor differences between the agreements for identifiable and de-identified student data.

Note, OSPI does not have the capacity or resources to review individual requests for changes to the Data Sharing Agreement. If you are unable to sign the agreement as is, please notify OSPI if you would like to cancel the request and/or submit a new request.

Step 5: Analyst Outreach

Timeline: Unless legislatively required, new Data Sharing Agreements are filled from February-April. Recurring Data Sharing Agreements are filled from August-October.

Related Documentation:

How soon will I hear from the analyst?
If you have not heard from an analyst by the end of February or August, please contact Student.Information@k12.wa.us.

Step 6: Data Delivery

Timeline: 1 week

OSPI transfers student-level data using our Secure FTP server. OSPI provides account information to requestors who must then set up an FTP client application on their computer. For more information, please see the OSPI SFTP User Guide available on the Student Privacy and Data Sharing webpage.

Related Documentation:
OSPI SFTP User Guide - Mac
OSPI SFTP User Guide - PC

Can I store the data on a portable device?
Student-level data should not be stored on portable devices or media unless you encrypt the device with commercial encryption software using a minimum of 128 bit encryption.

Step 7: Share Results with OSPI

By signing the data sharing agreement, the researcher agrees to provide a copy of any products or reports to OSPI before they are released, published, or otherwise made available. Please send draft results to Katie Weaver Randall at StudentInformation@k12.wa.us. prior to publication.

Step 8: Data Destruction

Timeline: You must destroy the data within 45 days of the termination of the agreement.

Acceptable destruction methods for various types of media include:

  • If student-level information was stored on optical discs (e.g. CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray), the data recipient shall either destroy by incinerating the disc(s), shredding the disc(s), or completely deface the readable surface with a coarse abrasive.
  • If student-level information was stored on magnetic tape(s), the data recipient shall destroy the data by degaussing, incinerating or crosscut shredding.
  • If data was stored on server or workstation data hard drives or similar media, the data recipient shall destroy the data by using a "wipe" utility which will overwrite the data at least three (3) times using either random or single character data, degaussing sufficiently to ensure that the data cannot be reconstructed, or physically destroying disk(s).
  • For paper documents containing student-level information, a contract with a recycling firm to recycle confidential documents is acceptable, provided the contract ensures that the confidentiality of the data will be protected. Such documents may also be destroyed by on-site shredding, pulping, or incineration.

A Certification of Data Destruction form (Exhibit C of the Data Sharing Agreement form) must be signed by researchers and returned to OSPI at the conclusion of the agreement. Refer to Exhibit C for minimum destruction requirements

  • Student Information
    Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
    600 Washington Street (UPS/FedEx)
    PO Box 47200 (US Mail)
    Old Capitol Building
    Olympia, WA 98504-7200

For more detailed information about the data destruction process, please refer to the Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Best Practices for Data Destruction document.

  • Email your request to Student.Information@k12.wa.us. Please include:
    • How do you plan to use the data?
    • What data do you need?
    • Which school year(s) do you want data for?
    • What's your timeline
  • Within three business days you'll receive an email response outlining next steps. Most requests take 2-3 weeks to fill.

If you would like to request teacher certification data, please see the Educator Growth and Development (EGAD) site to complete a request.