Publicly posting grades either by a student's name, Social Security number or institutional student identification number without the student's written permission is a violation of F.E.R.P.A. This includes posting grades to a class or institutional website and applies to any public posting of grades for students taking distance learning courses. F.E.R.P.A. guidelines indicate that even with names obscured, numeric student identifier numbers are considered personally identifiable information; therefore, the practice of posting grades by Social Security number violates F.E.R.P.A. As a result, grades should not be publicly posted or displayed where either SSN or the USFID is listed.
Posting grades by the last four digits or any part of the Social Security number or USFID is prohibited. The University of South Florida, Office of the Registrar, has adopted the F.E.R.P.A. Compliance Office's recommendation that faculty assign random numbers, specifically, to each student in a class that only the student and faculty member know. Any grade posting list should be random, not in alphabetical order and contain no substantial portion of either the Social Security number or USFID.
Concerning methods used to notify students of their grades, the Blackboard grade book allows instructors to post grades. When grades are posted, only the individual student will see her or his own grade. Students will not see scores of the other students. For more information about posting grades using Blackboard, usf.edu/index.php/How_to_use_myUSF%27s_Gradebook#Posting_Grades">click here.
Another method for notifying students of their grades prior to official institutional notification is to have interested students provide self-addressed, stamped envelopes to the instructor. The instructor can record the grade, seal the envelopes and mail it to the student when grades have been determined. NOTE: Notification of grades via postcard violates a student's right to privacy.
There is no guarantee of confidentiality e-mailing students grades. Notification of grades via e-mail is more secure than publicly posting grades or sending grades via postcard; however, the internet guarantees no confidentiality. The institution would be held responsible if an unauthorized party gained access, in any manner, to a student's education record through any electronic transmission; therefore, grade information should be transmitted through encrypted means only.
Graded exams cannot be left outside classrooms or offices for students to pick-up. Leaving personally identifiable and otherwise confidential graded papers unattended for students to pick through is no different than publicly posting grades on the classroom door. If graded exams contain personally identifiable information, leaving them unattended for anyone is a violation of F.E.R.P.A. if the instructor has not obtained the written permission of each student to do so. A possible solution would be to leave graded papers, quizzes, homework or exams with departmental office personnel who will ask students to present proper identification prior to distribution.