Reporting Students’ Social Security Numbers

ADMINISTRATIVE LETTER:  6
POLICY CODE:  JF/KLL

TO: Superintendents of Schools, Directors of Career and Technical Education Regions
FROM: Angela Faherty, Ph.D., Acting Commissioner
DATE: August 10, 2010
SUBJECT: Reporting Students’ Social Security Numbers

In 2009, Public Law, Chapter 448, an Act to Improve the Ability of the Department of Education to Conduct Longitudinal Data Studies, was enacted.  In accordance with that law, the Maine Statewide Longitudinal Data System will manage information in order to “compile, maintain and disseminate information concerning the educational histories, placement, employment and other measures of success of participants in state educational programs.”  In order for the Department to link data among agencies and institutions, the Department is requiring units to collect and report individual student social security numbers in Infinite Campus.

The collection of students’ social security numbers will enable the Department to:

  • Conduct longitudinal data studies to track individual student enrollment history and achievement data over time through linkage with postsecondary and adult education systems.
  • Provide school units with longitudinal data about postsecondary readiness and success by matching records with out-of-state higher education institutions more accurately.
  • Match records between the Department’s longitudinal data system and early childhood preschool programs for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of the programs in improving student achievement.
  • Join workforce information with student data to enhance the analytical opportunities for program evaluation, curriculum, and assessment for education and economic development planning.
  • Evaluate and improve education programs or conduct research for the purpose of improving education services.

In addition to updating local documentation used to collect the students’ social security number, each school unit is required to add information about the Department’s use of a student’s social security number to its annual Family Education Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA) notice.  The Department suggests the following wording be inserted into the notice:

“[Name of school unit] is required by the Commissioner to collect and report student social security numbers as a way to provide school units with data about the long-term effectiveness of teaching and programs from early childhood through to college and the work force.  [Name of school unit] will be asking parents to provide written consent to use their child’s social security number for these purposes. Parents are not required to provide a social security number. If a parent does not provide a social security number for a student, the child will still be enrolled in the school. Every student has a right to a public education, regardless of whether or not a social security number is provided. No child’s social security number may be used for longitudinal data purposes without prior written parental consent.  When a student turns 18 years of age, the written consent must be obtained from the student and the rights previously accorded to the parent are accorded to the student.”

Additional Information

In cases where the parents or the student elect not to provide a social security number, schools are advised to leave that field blank in Infinite Campus.

For information related to the new requirements, please contact Brian Snow, Education Data Manager, at (207) 624-6840 or Brian.Snow@Maine.Gov .