FERPA Considerations for Faculty
- Description of the Family Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) Act
- Posting Grades
- Calls from Parents (or others)
- Personal, Non-public Information (PNPI)
- FERPA Responsibilities for UD Faculty/Staff
Description of the Family Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
Please review a brief description of the Family Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), along with related issues.
Posting of Grades
Posting of grades after an examination or at the end of a semester is a very efficient and effective way of transmitting information to students about their academic progress. Under the FERPA regulations, you may not post grades by a full or partial Social Security Number under any circumstances. Contrary to popular belief, having students sign a waiver at the beginning of the semester is not sufficient to avoid FERPA violation.
The Student ID number should not be used either to post grades. A good alternative is to assign students random examination identification numbers, and to post grades in random order by these numbers. (Note that posting in alphabetical order is also problematic, as the identity of students could be ascertained.) Such random numbers could be assigned at the beginning of a course and used throughout the semester. Students should be urged to keep the numbers confidential, and a statement to this effect should be included in the course syllabus.
Parents often call faculty to inquire about their sons' and daughters' academic progress, as well as to find out about admission to majors and programs, among other reasons. The safest way legally to handle such inquiries is not to discuss any issues with parents or any one else other than the student.
This may be challenging, but releasing such information usually violates the FERPA statute and could place you at risk legally. The best thing to do is to urge the parent (or other caller) to speak with the student, and have the student stop by, if possible, to make the inquiry in person. Alternatively, you could refer the caller to the college advising office, the undergraduate or graduate admissions office, or other appropriate academic administrative office, where the procedures can be explained in more detail.
State and Federal laws and regulations govern the safeguarding of personal, non-public information (PNPI), such as Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and grades associated with names. Faculty and Staff are cautioned to properly protect this information by encrypting electronic files and locking stored hardcopy files.
The webpage FERPA Responsibilities for UD Faculty/Staff provides a complete list of FERPA-related information, definitions, procedures for the disclosure of education records to third parties, general rules and actions allowed and not allowed under FERPA.
Contact the Registrar's Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.