T he c leaRinghouse
SPRING 2009 www.studentclearinghouse.org 703.742.4200
Inside: Focus On Security
Client Survey Results
The Clearinghouse’s 360° Approach
KACRAO Wins Every day, more than 3,300 institutions rely on the Operational controls: Multiple levels of information
Award for Electronic Clearinghouse to perform critical tasks on their behalf, security policies, operational procedures and internal
Transcript Exchange such as enrollment reporting, academic verification, controls are used to secure Clearinghouse processes.
and enrollment management research. Since its
New Clearinghouse inception 16 years ago, the Clearinghouse has been Technical controls: User identification and
Appointments aggressive and proactive in all areas of data and authentication controls are deployed across all
information security. Clearinghouse systems. In addition, the
Clearinghouse utilizes information security best
Clearinghouse Advisory “The more pervasive technology becomes in everyday practices, such as firewalls, intrusion detection and
Committee Members business processing, the greater the risks and threats prevention, cryptographic technologies, anti-virus
all organizations face,” said Clearinghouse president software, proxy servers, etc.
Secondary Education Rick Torres, “From the Clearinghouse’s perspective,
Research Initiative security requires a 24/7/365 by 360-degree approach. Information security: Wide-ranging protective measures
Receives Gates Grant That’s why we use an integrated strategy that addresses are used to safeguard data, including stringent
current and emerging threats while providing the password rules, secure file transfer, protected web
greatest possible coverage.” access, and more.
New Data Access
Advisory Committee Comprehensive Security Program Disaster recovery and backup: The Clearinghouse’s
At the heart of the Clearinghouse’s strategy is a business resumption plan includes complete disaster
Research Site Launched multi-faceted security program designed to stay recovery and data backup/restoration procedures,
ahead of the curve, prevent unauthorized access, which are regularly tested and updated.
and protect against other threats and hazards.
Key elements include: Additionally, the Clearinghouse ensures that all
parties with which it interfaces conduct business using
System management and controls: Extensive risk analyses high levels of security.
of Clearinghouse systems are conducted periodically,
including security assessments performed by third- Ongoing Investments
party security firms. The Clearinghouse’s information The Clearinghouse regularly invests in new
security plan is regularly reviewed and updated. technologies to ensure its systems keep pace with
the latest security capabilities. “We continually
enhance our information security measures to better
Our New Home! protect our systems and data,” said Doug Falk, chief
information officer at the Clearinghouse. Additionally,
the Clearinghouse recently became the first tenant in
a major high tech development in the metropolitan
Washington, D.C. area. Our new offices were
designed with particular attention to physical security
from unauthorized access and also feature state-of-the-
art computer facilities.
Staff Training & Awareness
Photo by Floyd Wellershaus
As important as the technical safeguards established
by the Clearinghouse is its staff security awareness
and training program. Every employee receives
information security training and agrees to comply
with Clearinghouse security policies. Additionally,
the Clearinghouse’s Information Security Committee,
In March, the Clearinghouse moved to its new location at continued on page 2
2300 Dulles Station Blvd., Suite 300, Herndon, VA 20171.
Services You Need. People You Trust.
Focus On Security
continued from cover
comprised of representatives from its operational units, regularly
reviews internal processes for handling sensitive information and makes
recommendations to reduce risk and improve security.
Working with Industry Leaders
The Clearinghouse’s security focus includes strategic partnerships with
leading industry organizations, such as the inCommon Federation,
Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC), and National
Council of Higher Education Loan Programs (NCHELP).
The Clearinghouse is currently working with inCommon on a pilot to
deliver its services via the Shibboleth platform, beginning with a Student
Self-Service pilot for Stanford University. Shibboleth enables participants
to provide their users with single sign-on access to shared web resources,
eliminating the need to maintain multiple user names and passwords.
More than 100 educational institutions belong to inCommon.
In its work with PESC, the Clearinghouse helps develop new
communications standards, such as the Transcript Request and Response
schema, which enables institutions to use electronic data exchange to
share information more securely. In cooperation with NCHELP, the
Clearinghouse collaborated with the education finance industry to create
the campus-based authentication model used for Meteor, which provides
student loan borrowers and schools with secure online access to financial
aid award data.
Another important security initiative is the Clearinghouse’s adoption of
existing industry standards, such as those from the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST). Its Student Self-Service program,
for example, requires that participants comply with NIST standards for
electronic authentication. This enables the Clearinghouse to provide
options requested by schools that require increased security, such as
real-time student loan information via Meteor. Other examples include
The Clearinghouse’s 360-degree approach to protecting its information and
compliance of its transactional sites, like DegreeVerify, with the Payment
systems includes multiple layers of security to address all types of threats.
continued on page 4
Security Reminders for Colleges
n Review Your Clearinghouse Contacts Regularly
You should review your Clearinghouse contact list regularly during the year and after staff changes to
ensure your information remains accessible only to the appropriate parties at your school. Your contact
list is available on the home page of our school secure site.
n Keep Student Blocks & Holds Up-to-Date
When you report data to the Clearinghouse, make sure you identify students who have FERPA blocks
or other holds on their records (see our programming and testing guides for instructions). Don’t forget
to notify us when a hold is removed so the student’s information can be released for verification.
n Actively Refer Verification Requests
Referring requestors to the Clearinghouse provides a time-stamped audit trail of all verifications. It also
allows you to control how requests are received and verified: safely via our secure site versus less securely
by phone or fax in your busy office.
n Download Our Student Computer Safety Tip Sheet (at left)
Help your students use public computers safely by posting our tip sheet in your office and on campus.
You can download it from the Resource Center of the Student Look-Up tab on our school secure site.
To update your contact list or request other assistance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page 2 www.studentclearinghouse.org
Rating the Clearinghouse
Survey Results Reveal High Client Satisfaction & New Service Opportunities
Last fall, the Clearinghouse invited its clients, including school, Respondents included college registrars, financial aid directors, institutional
commercial, and other participants, to take part in its first customer researchers, representatives at education finance organizations, and
survey. The objective was to learn how well the Clearinghouse is serving commercial clients. Overall, satisfaction levels were high for all types of
its different constituents and how it can improve its services and support. users. This was especially true for college and education finance industry
Survey response across the board was excellent, with nearly 2,000 staff who rely on the Clearinghouse to perform key responsibilities, like
respondents providing valuable feedback on how the Clearinghouse can enrollment reporting or research. Well over 90% of respondents in these
better serve all its users. groups said they would recommend the Clearinghouse to other users.
“This is validation that our customer-oriented approach is recognized and
appreciated by our participants,” said Clearinghouse president, Rick Torres,
“I’m proud of how well our employees respond to the needs of our users.”
Along with customer support, respondents were asked to rate their
satisfaction with individual services and technical performance, such as
system response times. They also ranked the various tools and resources
the Clearinghouse provides to its users, such as product documentation.
As importantly, respondents provided input on potential new service and
delivery options. As a result of what it learned from survey respondents,
the Clearinghouse is pursuing a number of client support- and technology-
“While we were very pleased with the overall results, we strive to
continuously improve our service delivery,” continued Torres, “The insight
we gained from the survey responses will help us focus our efforts.” The
Clearinghouse plans to conduct customer surveys periodically.
Kentucky ACRAO Wins Award for Electronic
First Statewide Rollout of Clearinghouse’s Newest Service
For their successful statewide rollout of Electronic Transcript Exchange, the Receive Electronic Transcripts for Free
Kentucky ACRAO (KACRAO) received the Elbert W. Ockerman State All U.S. colleges and high schools are eligible to receive transcripts for
and Regional Professional Activity Award at this year’s annual AACRAO free via Electronic Transcript Exchange. Colleges that participate in our
meeting. The award recognizes outstanding achievements and activities by free Transcript Ordering service and high schools that participate in
state and regional associations. StudentTracker for High Schools can also send electronic transcripts
at no charge.
Kentucky Realizes Multiple Benefits
KACRAO implemented Electronic Transcript Exchange to support their To learn more (including watching the Electronic
statewide effort to increase retention rates by speeding and simplifying the Transcript Exchange demo) or sign up, visit
in-state transfer process for students. The service has also yielded time- and www.studentclearinghouse.org/etx.
cost-saving benefits by eliminating expenses for postage, envelopes, and
transcript paper and reducing staff processing time. Since the University
of Kentucky and Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC)
completed the pilot in early 2008, nearly 40 Kentucky institutions have
begun participating in Electronic Transcript Exchange.
Said Suzanne McGurk, system registrar for Kentucky Community and
Technical College System (KCTCS), who helped facilitate the pilot for
BCTC, “This initiative has caught the attention not only of AACRAO,
but of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education as an
example of partnership for the benefit of our institutions, the
conservation of resources and, most importantly, improvement
of service to students.”
Page 3 www.studentclearinghouse.org
New Clearinghouse Appointments
Board of Director Updates
Three long-term members completed their service with the Clearinghouse’s named assistant vice president of Government Relations. Robert (Bob) M.
board of directors in April: Thomas Babel, corporate director of Student Haushalter was welcomed as the Clearinghouse’s managing director of
Finance for DeVry Inc. and a board member since 2000; William Mackie, Education Finance Industry Relations.
Jr., former president and CEO of the South Carolina Student Loan
Corporation and a board member since 2002; and Marianne M. Keler, In her new role, Roberta works with Clearinghouse senior management
chair of the Building Hope foundation’s board of directors and a board to develop strategies to contribute to public policy discussions at various
member since 1993. The Clearinghouse made charitable donations on government levels. She also advises the Clearinghouse on applicable legislative
behalf of these board members in recognition and appreciation of their matters and acts as ombudsmen to the Department of Education. Roberta,
many years of service. who is an adjunct professor of higher education at Drexel University, has a
BA in International Studies from Muhlenberg College and an MS in Higher
Two new board members were elected during the April meeting: Dr. Donald Education from Drexel University. She is also pursuing a Doctorate in
Hossler and Dr. Paul Lingenfelter. Dr. Hossler is the executive associate dean Education at Northeastern University.
at the School of Education at Indiana University Bloomington. A professor
of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, he also serves as the director As managing director of Education Finance Industry Relations, Bob is
of the Project on Academic Success and coordinator of the Higher Education responsible for providing continued dedicated support to the education
and Student Affairs graduate programs. Dr. Lingenfelter is the president finance organizations that participate in the Clearinghouse. Bob has
of the State Higher Education Executive Officers, a national nonprofit nearly 25 years of experience in the education finance industry and higher
association comprised of the chief executive officers who serve on statewide education. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of corporate
coordinating boards and governing boards of postsecondary education. development for Access Group, Inc. Bob has a BA in early childhood and
elementary education and an MS in science education from American
Staff Appointments University. He also serves on several boards, including the NCHELP
This spring, the Clearinghouse announced two new staff appointments. Private Student Loan Committee.
Roberta Hyland, who has served at the Clearinghouse for 12 years, was
Focus On Security
continued from page 2 The Clearinghouse
Card Industry Data Security Standards used by all major credit Advisory Committee
card issuers and the use of U.S. federal encryptions standards
to validate file exchanges, like electronic transcripts, via the
Clearinghouse secure FTP site. Christopher (Seth) Allen Stanley E. Henderson
Dean of Admission & Financial Aid, Vice Chancellor, University of
Commitment to Student Privacy Grinnell College Michigan-Dearborn
In addition to the extensive technical and other safeguards it
uses, the Clearinghouse protects student privacy through the Susie C. Archer Lorraine Kitchner
compliance of all its services with the Family Educational Rights Asst. Provost for Academic Affairs, Registrar, Saint Mary’s College
and Privacy Act (FERPA). The Clearinghouse stays abreast of Vanderbilt University
important regulatory changes to ensure continued compliance. Thomas C. Black System Registrar, KCTCS
In response to 2009 FERPA revisions, for example, the University Registrar,
Clearinghouse revised its school participation agreement to clearly Stanford University Kenneth Servis
state the respective roles of the institution and the Clearinghouse Dean of Academic Records/
and reinforce the control the institution must maintain. The new Douglas K. Burgess, Ph.D. Registrar, USC
agreement further emphasizes the importance of information University Registrar,
security pertaining to confidential student records. University of Cincinnati Dr. Jeffery Seybert
Dir. of Research, Eval. &
Incorporating User Feedback Joy Chambers Instructional Dev., Johnson Co.
Interim Dean Student Support/ Community College
Finally, the Clearinghouse actively solicits input from its
Director, Cuesta College-
participants to ensure it continues to address its users’ security Beth Tedrow
San Luis Obispo
concerns. The Clearinghouse Advisory Committee provides Dean of Student Services, Garden
guidance on FERPA and student privacy issues, along with input Herbert R. Chereck City Community College
on service and delivery offerings. Later this year, the Clearinghouse University Registrar,
is establishing a Data Access Advisory Committee (DAAC) to Ernestine Whiting
University of Oregon
National Director of Financial Aid,
address wide-ranging issues related to its data resources, including
information security. Additionally, the Clearinghouse is using Robert Doolos Walden University
input collected from its recent client surveys to enhance its University Registrar, Louisiana State
David S. Yeh (Chairman)
technical capabilities. (For more on the Clearinghouse surveys and Univ.-Baton Rouge
AVP & University Registrar,
the DAAC, see the articles on page 3 and 5, respectively.) Cornell University
“The Clearinghouse has always taken its role as a guardian of its To see a list of past members, visit
participants’ information very seriously,” added Torres, “As we face www.studentclearinghouse.org/about/advisory_board_past.htm.
new challenges and opportunities together, it will continue to be
our first priority.”
Page 4 www.studentclearinghouse.org
Clearinghouse’s Secondary Education Research
Initiative Receives Major Grant
State Pilot Selection Underway
Earlier this year, the Clearinghouse received a $2.9 million grant from the institutions with access to more robust data via its StudentTracker
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to develop the first national educational research service.
secondary education research and reporting system. When completed, the
project, called the Secondary Education Research Initiative, will provide Another key element is expanding the coverage of the additional data
participating high schools across all 50 states with reliable information on elements (i.e., class level, current major, etc.). This will improve high school
their graduates’ college access and success rates. student matching, provide a more complete profile of a high school’s college
entrance rates, and enable comparisons between high school systems.
“The Clearinghouse will play a vital role in … strengthening Institutions with a Datatel student information system (SIS) can extract the
the link between secondary and postsecondary institutions additional data elements and include them as part of their Clearinghouse
to support greater student achievement.” enrollment reporting. The Clearinghouse is working with other SIS
providers to make the additional data reporting option available in their
“Most high schools and school districts have no way of tracking their systems. Institutions can also contact their SIS providers directly to request
students from graduation through college enrollment and completion,” the additional data reporting capability.
said Vicki L. Phillips, director of education at the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation. “The Clearinghouse will play a vital role in closing this data “… an incredible opportunity for the Clearinghouse and
gap, providing more clarity around student outcomes and strengthening our participating institutions to contribute to a greater
the link between secondary and postsecondary institutions to support understanding of the country’s educational efforts.”
greater student achievement.”
“The Secondary Education Research Initiative represents an incredible
Building a National Secondary Reporting System opportunity for the Clearinghouse and our participating institutions
As part of the initiative, the Clearinghouse is planning to evolve the to contribute to a greater understanding of the country’s educational
current platform of its StudentTracker for High Schools service, which is efforts,” according to Clearinghouse president Rick Torres, “Most
already used by more than 500 districts. The service’s data and reporting importantly, by providing an accurate and consistent way to measure
capabilities will be greatly expanded to meet the complex requirements student achievement, we enable educators to better prepare the nation’s
of a secondary data collection and reporting system with the capacity to students to compete and succeed.”
service all 50 states.
Postsecondary institutions can help achieve 100% enrollment and
Over the next 24 months, the Clearinghouse will partner with a small degree data levels by:
number of states to conduct data matching tests, redesign reports, develop
new analysis tools, and obtain user feedback. Final selection of the pilot 1. Participating in the Clearinghouse’s free Core student
states is underway. loan enrollment reporting service
Implementation of the national-level system is expected to take three to 2. Reporting additional data elements as part of their Core
five years. Improvements to the existing StudentTracker for High Schools enrollment data submission, AND
service are expected to begin before the end of the year. 3. Participating in the Clearinghouse’s free degree
verification service, DegreeVerify.
How Colleges Can Help High Schools
An important part of the initiative is obtaining full national coverage Participating institutions are also eligible to receive StudentTracker for
of postsecondary enrollment and degree data. Not only will this 50% off or for free. For more information or to sign up for any
enable educators to close the information gap between secondary and of these services, contact your Clearinghouse regional director or
postsecondary education, it will provide all participating Clearinghouse email@example.com.
Data Access Advisory Committee to Be Established
One of the most important new initiatives at the Clearinghouse is the DAAC members will assist the Clearinghouse in evaluating the many
establishment of a Data Access Advisory Committee (DAAC). The research requests it receives from educational institutions and organizations
committee is being formed in response to the Clearinghouse’s rapidly that are not addressed by its standard StudentTracker service. The
expanding role as a provider of nationwide postsecondary enrollment and committee will also recommend national benchmarking studies in which
degree information to educational researchers. they believe the Clearinghouse should participate. Finally, they will make
recommendations regarding the research strategies and methods employed
According to committee chair Jeff Tanner, vice president of Higher by the Clearinghouse in its research projects.
Education Development at the Clearinghouse, “The committee will
serve as an important link to real-world applications of our information Committee members, who are expected to be announced later this year,
by colleges and educational organizations. It will also help us keep pace will be professionals from high schools and colleges around the country
with important trends and provide us with valuable feedback on ways to who have extensive experience in managing student databases, research,
improve our research-based services.” and risk management.
Page 5 www.studentclearinghouse.org
Clearinghouse Launches New Research Site
The Clearinghouse has created a
Web site for StudentTracker users
and educational researchers. Our
new Research Services site is a
one-stop resource for accessing
many postsecondary research tools,
including StudentTracker guides
and FAQs, sample reports,
SAS/SPSS query code, and more.
You’ll also find research reports from
the Clearinghouse and StudentTracker
case studies from institutional
researchers around the country. We
invite you to read our most recent
studies on Concurrent Enrollment
and Time to Degree, under the
Postsecondary Research section.
Check out our new Research Services site at
Receive Electronic Transcripts for Free!
All Clearinghouse schools are eligible to receive electronic transcripts at no charge through our Electronic Transcript
Transcript Exchange service. To learn more, watch our demo, or sign up, visit www.studentclearinghouse.org/etx.
T he c leaRinghouse
PERMIT # 9 Please note our new address.
US POSTAGE 2300 Dulles Station Blvd., Suite 300, Herndon, VA 20171
FIRST CLASS NATIONAL STUDENT CLEARINGHOUSE ®