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One Step Ahead
January 30, 2007, Volume 53, No. 20

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Student Records – Knowing the Basics

Have you asked yourself any of the following questions?

• May I discuss a student’s academic performance with his/her advisor?
• May I share a student’s grades with his/her parents?
• May I ask students for their Social Security Number?
• May I leave graded exams outside my door for students to pick up?
• May I post class lists and student photos on the web?
• May I destroy copies of my old grade sheets?

If you have asked any of these questions, then you have recognized that student data is often sensitive and private and that there are “dos” and “don’ts” involved in the handling of such data.

Student records are protected by the federal FERPA law.  They may be shared with school officials with “legitimate educational interests,” in other words, where the information would be helpful in the performance of official duties or in an enterprise sanctioned by Penn.  In many other situations, such as photos on the web or graded exams outside a door, student records may not be shared without the student’s specific and affirmative consent.

For more information on student records privacy, visit the Penn Privacy website at www.upenn.edu/privacy. Click on “Special Topics:  Types of Data” and then “Student Records” for a variety of resources, including FAQs like those above—and answers to them. 

For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/.


Almanac - January 30, 2007, Volume 53, No. 20