Only school officials whom the university has determined to have a legitimate educational interest can access personally identifiable information without a student's written authorization.
Faculty Access to Student Records
Faculty members are normally considered school officials. However, before a faculty member can access student records, the faculty member must demonstrate "a legitimate educational interest." Examples of legitimate interests include faculty advisors and faculty engaged in research. Faculty members do not have routine access to student academic records unless their regular job duties specifically require access.
Letters of Recommendation
Written permission of the student is required for a letter of recommendation if any information included in the recommendation is part of the "education record" (grades, GPA and other non-directory information).
Distribution of Grades
To comply with FERPA requirements, you may post grades only if the individual cannot be personally identified. For example, you can:
- Use the last four or five digits of their Student ID
- Use a random number only known to the student and the faculty member.
- Send student grades via postal mail in a sealed envelope. Postcards are not permissible.
- Send student grades individually by email.
Any publically posted list should not be in alphabetical order and no student names can be attached to the list.
Other options include sending a letter to each student with his or her grade, making the student wait for their official grades to be posted, or segregating the grades so each student could access only his or her own grade.
Returning Exams and Assignments
Exams and identifiable, graded papers are considered confidential student records. Therefore, you must first obtain the students' written authorization in order to leave graded exams in a public area. Exams can also be left under the control of another ‘educational official', such as the secretary of a department (never a student worker!). Students would have to ask this education official for their exam(s). The education official would need student verification (i.e. student ID card), pull the exam and hand it to the student. The education official would be the ONLY one who could search the bin and retrieve that student's exam. The bin would need to be locked in a secure area at the end of the work day.
For more information about the university's commitment to safeguard student privacy, contact the Office of the Registrar or refer to the FERPA statute itself.