Posting Grades

Distributing/Posting Grades - Privacy Guidelines

After exams, many faculty post grades in a public location in order that students can easily determine their exam grade, and perhaps all grades to date. The posting of such material is strictly regulated by federal law, particularly The Buckley Amendment, formally titled the Family Education Records and Privacy Act. For a discussion of FERPA and other privacy laws, please see Privacy of Education Records by David A. Banisar.

We recognize the importance of privacy and educational records and clearly document our campus policy:

The simplest method of ensuring the privacy of a student's grade is not to publicly post any grades, but rather to individually return all assignments and examinations or to individually mail (or email) such information.

But if you feel you must publicly post grades, you need to do so in a manner that protects the identity of each student. One strategy is to assign some system of letters and/or numbers which are known only to the instructor and the student. Grades posted using such a PIN isolate the grades from the identity of the students. The PINs chosen for the class must not be any part of a student's Social Security number (the last 4 or 5 digits, for example).

FERPA protects the privacy of each student's educational records and is not tied to SSN but rather to any identifier that might provide third-party access to an education record, thus the same recommendations apply to the use of any common identification, such as Student ID, LakerNET ID, etc. (from 34 CFR Part 99, Section 99.3, "student ID number, user ID, or other unique personal identifier used by the student for purposes of accessing or communicating in electronic systems, but only if the identifier cannot be used to gain access to education records except when used in conjunction with one or more factors that authenticate the user's identity, such as a personal identification number (PIN), password, or other factor known or possessed only by the authorized user.")

There are other violations, however, that we must be aware of and seek to avoid. For example, often graded material is left in an office or at the front of a classroom for students to rummage through for their own exam, quiz, paper, etc. If the grades are visible on the top sheet of the exam, quiz, or assignment, then it is a violation of a student's privacy. To keep the grades private you might hand the material back directly to the individual student. You might leave the material in sealed envelopes with only the student's name on the envelope for pick-up from an office. If it is a one page quiz, for example, you might have the grade at the bottom of the page and fold up the bottom third of the quiz so that only the name is visible and the grade is hidden under the fold. In a large class you might choose to make the material available for pick-up from a large table where the grades are written on an inside page of the exam or assignment.