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Data Requests

Individuals may request data that are not publicly available on the CDE Web site (e.g. DataQuest).

The California Department of Education (CDE) collects student-level data through the California Longitudinal Pupil Assessment System (CALPADS) required for state and federal reporting purposes. This data, in addition to assessment data, is made available to the public through the CDE's data reporting portal, DataQuest, and the CDE Downloadable Data Files Web page.

For data that are not available through these public resources, the CDE maintains a Data Request process that facilitates the release of assessment data and CALPADS information (located under the Resources tab) while ensuring compliance with state and federal data privacy and security laws (see the Laws and Regulations tab for further information). For data that do not fit the above criteria, please consult the Data Resource Guide. Requestors must complete the Preliminary Data Request Form and submit it electronically with a Research/Evaluation Concept Paper. Guidelines for the required Research/Evaluation Concept Paper are located under the Resources tab. Also located under the Resources tab is the 2015–18 CDE Research Priorities.

Members of the press or other media outlets requesting data from the CDE must contact the CDE Communications Office for assistance by e-mail at communications@cde.ca.gov or by phone at 916-319-0818.

Please note that the CDE is a public state agency and as such all data requests (i.e., personally identifiable information [PII] and non-PII), once fulfilled or denied, will be publically posted on this Data Request Web page under the Archived Data Requests tab.

Laws and Regulations

All data requestors seeking to use CDE data must be familiar with, and comply with, state and federal laws pertaining to data security and confidentiality. Data requests must be managed in accordance with all applicable federal and state privacy laws including, but not limited to: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1984 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99); The National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1758; 7 CFR Section 245.6), the California Information Practices Act (California Civil Code Section 1798); and California Education Code (EC).

Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

The FERPA External link opens in new window or tab. (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.

The National School Lunch Act

The National School Lunch Act External link opens in new window or tab. (42 U.S.C. 1758; 7 CFR Section 245.6) is a federal law that limits the use or disclosure of a family's or child's name and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) information.

California Information Practices Act

The California Information Practices Act, Civil Code Section 1798.24 External link opens in new window or tab. (Senate Bill 13) requires government agencies to protect the privacy of personal information maintained by state agencies.

California Education Code

EC Section 49079.5 External link opens in new window or tab. states the intent of the Legislature to make the CALPADS accessible to "authorized stakeholders" including researchers.

EC Section 49079.7 External link opens in new window or tab. enables the CDE to charge reasonable fees upon researchers applying for access to individually personally identifiable information in order to cover costs of responding to time-intensive request.

EC Section 49558 External link opens in new window or tab. limits the use and disclosure of NSLP information.

PII and Non-PII

The CDE is allowed to enter into select agreements with experienced researchers at nonprofit organizations, universities, colleges, and community colleges to conduct studies for or on behalf of the CDE using CDE supplied PII.

PII includes a student's name and/or other direct personal identifiers, such as the student's identification number. Personally identifiable data also includes indirect identifiers, such as the name of the student's parents, guardians or other family members; the student's or family's address; and personal characteristics or other information that would make the student's identity easily traceable. A sample list of data that may be considered to be PII is available on the CDE Data Privacy Web page.

Research/evaluation studies conducted for, or on behalf of, the CDE using PII must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  1. Align with the CDE's goals and priorities;
  2. Inform the policies and/or practices of the CDE; or
  3. Improve education and/or instruction.

Please see the 2015–18 CDE Research Priorities under the Resources tab for more information on the CDE's research goals and priorities.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) External link opens in new window or tab. generally prohibits the CDE from disclosing or re-disclosing student records containing PII, but provides an exception for state educational authorities to disclose or re-disclose student records containing PII to organizations conducting studies for, or on behalf of, educational agencies or institutions to:

  • Develop, validate, or administer predictive tests;
  • Administer student aid programs; or
  • Improve instruction.

The preliminary data request will be reviewed by the Analysis, Measurement, and Accountability Reporting Division (AMARD) staff to verify that no publicly available data options exist to meet the needs of the data requestor. If no publicly available data options exist, the request will be reviewed further to determine if PII or non-PII is being requested.

Information is considered to be non-PII when a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of relevant circumstances, cannot identify the student with relative certainty. Release of non-PII data to the public is permissible in most cases. However, state and federal laws prohibit the disclosure of PII to the public except under a very limited number of specific circumstances.

Please note that regardless of the type of data requested (i.e., PII or non-PII), the CDE will use its discretion in determining which data requests to prioritize and support given its limited resources. There is a charge associated with data preparation. For more information on data preparation costs and billing, please see the Costs and Billing tab.

The CDE will only designate educational authorities as its authorized representative to conduct a study or studies for, or on behalf of, the CDE for one of the purposes set forth above to fulfill the FERPA exemption.

Costs and Billing

The CDE charges a rate of $65 per hour for data preparation. Failure to pay an invoice for data received from the CDE will result in the educational organization or institution to which the CDE provided the data and the requestor being barred from accessing CDE data until any past due invoices are paid in full.

Archived Data Requests

Since the launch of the online Data Request portal in the spring of 2015, the California Department of Education (CDE) has responded to hundreds of requests for data from university and non-profit researchers and the general public. Requests for data are reviewed to ensure they align with the CDE's 2015–18 CDE Research Priorities. In particular, requests for student-level data or personally identifiable information (PII) must pass a high threshold for methodological and study design integrity and must demonstrate requester capacity for safeguarding private student information consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) External link opens in new window or tab. and all other state and federal student privacy laws as described in the PII and Non-PII tab. Due to this high standard, a long queue of requests, and limited CDE staff resources dedicated to fulfilling requests, PII requests typically take several months to fulfill. Once approved, the fulfillment of all requests, whether for PII or non-PII data, depends on the availability of CDE staff resources.

Since the spring of 2015, the CDE has fulfilled 98 data requests from 81 unique entities, including 11 requests for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data. A summary of the requests submitted through the CDE Data Request process with the following elements are available in Archived Data Requests downloadable data file (XLS; Posted 29-Sep-2017). This file will be updated on a quarterly basis.

  1. Requestor's name
  2. Requestor's organization
  3. Request title
  4. Resolution code (fulfilled or not)
  5. Reason(s), if not fulfilled
  6. Does request include any PII? (PII/Non-PII)
  7. Date requested
  8. Date fulfilled (if applicable)
  9. Link to a final study report (if applicable)
Questions:   Data Visualization and Reporting Office | CDEdatarequests@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-3245
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, October 3, 2017
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