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Student Exchange Program

As school districts around the country increasingly turn to online educational services that can collect and analyze details about how individual students learn, some parents and legislators have been raising questions about whether the personal information collected by such programs is federally protected from being shared or sold by technology vendors.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Education weighed in with an answer long awaited across the nearly $8 billion prekindergarten through 12th-grade education software industry: “It depends.”

That careful wording came as part of new agency guidance that lays out requirements and recommended practices for school management of online education services that directly involve students or their parents.