The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guarantees the privacy of student educational records, which include all coursework that has received evaluative comments or grades by an instructor. Instructors must ensure, in the process of posting grades or returning graded material, that the students’ grades or evaluations are not visible to or determinable by anyone without a right of access to the information. Only the individual student, and those university employees with a legitimate educational interest in the course or student outcome may have access to student educational records.
Appropriate methods of returning graded work/posting grades include:
- Faculty or teaching assistants personally handing work to students known to them.
- Faculty/teaching assistants/administrative assistants returning work personally to students upon display of identification
- Campus mail (material placed in sealed envelope)
- Using the Blackboard gradebook
- By email *to the student’s WashU email address*
If faculty randomly assign students a unique identifier, and assignments/exams only contain that information- not a student’s name or ID- materials can be left in non-secure locations for students to pick up.
If grades are posted publicly, physically or on a website, students’ names or student IDs may *not* be used as an identifier, and students should *not* be listed in alphabetical order.
Faculty may ask students to sign a waiver, allowing their work to be returned in whatever manner specified, and acknowledging that in those circumstances other students might be able to observe their grade/evaluation. If students opt out of signing the waiver, material must be returned to them in a secure manner.
A student’s advisor would be considered to have a legitimate educational interest in the student.