For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: January 13, 2005

Idaho Joins Settlement with Collector of Student Data

(Boise) - Idaho and 41 other states joined in a consumer protection settlement with National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA), Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. The settlement concerns NRCCUA's collection of personal information through high school student surveys.

NRCCUA is a not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Lee's Summit, Missouri. It surveys and collects information from high school students each year. In 2001, it collected personal information from more than two million high school students.

The states alleged that NRCCUA represented or implied that the information it collected from high school students was shared only with colleges, universities and other entities providing education-related services. The states also alleged that NRCCUA shared the information with commercial entities. Those businesses used the information to attempt to sell products or services to the students.

"Parents of high school and junior high school students should be aware that their children may be asked to complete surveys like those conducted by NRCCUA," Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. "They should also be aware that, by federal law, parents have the right to tell schools not to give certain surveys to their children. Parents who do not want their children to be given surveys should make their preference known to the school." Wasden added that high school students 18 and older have the same right to opt out of completing the surveys.

NRCCUA provides its surveys to high school teachers and guidance counselors and requests that the surveys be given to students to complete. Students may also complete the survey over the Internet. The surveys ask students for personal information, such as their name, address, gender, grade point average, date of birth, academic and occupational interests, racial or ethnic background, and, in the event the student is interested in attending a college with a religious affiliation, the denomination of their choice.

Under terms of the settlement, NRCCUA agreed:

  • Not to misrepresent how personally identifiable information will be collected, used or disclosed, or how the collection of the information is funded.
  • To clearly and conspicuously disclose why it collects personal information and the types of entities to which the information is disclosed.
  • To make such disclosures in all of its privacy statements and in all questionnaires, survey instruments, and other documents.
  • To cease all future use of survey data collected from a student if a parent (in the case of a minor) or an adult high school student requests that the student be opted-out of completing the survey or that NRCCUA cease using previously collected information.
  • To supply schools with a notice form to be given to parents telling them the survey may be administered and how to opt their student-children out of completing the survey if NRCCUA changes its current practice and resumes using or permitting others to use its survey data for non-educational-related marketing purposes.

NRCCUA did not admit any violations in settling the matter but agreed to change its practices as required by the settlement. NRCCUA stated in the settlement document that, in 2002, it ceased permitting use of the student data for marketing purposes not related to education.

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