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PIMS Postsecondary Information

The Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS) is a statewide longitudinal data system for the collection and reporting of unit-level educational data.

PIMS was developed with the purpose of:

  • Allowing the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to meet federal and state reporting requirements;
  • Streamlining the reporting processes from educational institutions to PDE and the U.S. Department of Education;
  • Reporting timely and accurate education data through standardized and ad hoc reporting capabilities;
  • Improving educational decision-making through the use of high quality data and decision support tools; and,
  • Providing longitudinal data on educational progress over time.

Act 24 of 2011 authorizes PDE to collect unit-level data that are mandated by state or federal statute or regulation from postsecondary institutions. PDE is collecting data elements necessary to meet the following reporting requirements:

  • Reporting required for the Pennsylvania Community College Annual Report;
  • Reporting required for the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation System; and,
  • Reporting required as a result of receiving State Fiscal Stabilization Fund monies from the federal government. (This reporting is required through Academic Year 2011-12.)

The PIMS Postsecondary User Manuals describe the data elements and templates postsecondary administrators submit to the system, as well as the collection timelines.

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Student education records are official, confidential documents protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 USC 1232g). FERPA defines education records as all records – both paper and computerized – that schools or education agencies maintain about students, and protects both paper and computerized records. FERPA and other privacy laws (such as Title I and Special Education) ensure that information about citizens collected by schools and government agencies is released only for specific and legally defined purposes.

Under FERPA Sec. 99.31 and 99.35, education agencies may release personally identifiable information to the PDE for the purposes of auditing and evaluating education programs and complying with federal and state regulations.

Postsecondary Data Collection Opt-Out Process

Students attending postsecondary institutions may opt-out of a commonwealth data collection by submitting the Postsecondary Data Collection Opt-Out Form to PDE at least one month prior to postsecondary institutions submitting data. Students are not permitted to opt-out of federally-mandated collections.

The deadlines for opting-out of commonwealth data collections are as follows:

  • September 1 to Opt-Out of a Summer Collection
  • January 1 to Opt-Out of a Fall/Intersession Collection
  • May 15 to Opt-Out of a Spring Collection

Students are responsible for opting-out of each data collection by the posted deadline and identifying the postsecondary institution(s) PDE should notify on their behalf. Students must submit a separate form for each institution attended during the collection term. The postsecondary institution is responsible for excluding those students' information from the portions of the collection that are required only for commonwealth purposes. PDE and the postsecondary institution are not responsible for the sharing of data that may result from a student providing inaccurate information.

Postsecondary PIMS Resources