Student grades are a culmination of their efforts and the teacher’s impression and assessment of activities conducted to assess them. Depending on the form of assessment, grades can provide feedback on the level of understanding of learned concepts.
Both schools and teachers are able to leverage these grades to identify the best way to help students improve or advance in their education. It’s understandable that students would therefore only want their grades in appropriate hands.
While multiple regulations including Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws regulate who has access or can access student grades, FERPA laws only apply to public and private educational institutions that receive federal funding.
This article will take a look at whether teachers can show student grades to other teachers, parents, and even students.
Why Student Grades Are Displayed
While regulations may government student privacy in some countries including the US, some countries have no enforceable regulations against these.
Even in the case where these regulations exist, some educational institutions make it a habit of displaying all student grades in their departments.
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Competition is necessary not only in sports but in education as it can help students go beyond what they thought possible. Displaying student grades to the general public is a means to an end.
Students would be able to ascertain the academic standing of their peers and work hard to keep up or even do better. While this may not be ideal, it can successfully foster competition among students leading to higher overall student performance.
Displaying students’ grades enables students to determine their academic standing in the class. Depending on a student’s academic rank in class, students would be motivated to try harder to improve their ranking.
No Regulations Against
While FERPA regulations may govern such issues in the US, some countries have no regulations against displaying student grades. Even in the case where these regulations may exist, enforcement can be difficult as educational institutions seem to have autonomy over such matters.
Why Student Grades Shouldn’t Be Displayed
Leads To Bullying
It’s well-known that bullies like to pick on high academic achievers for various reasons including their own insecurities. Displaying grades to everyone enables bullies to identify students to pick on.
While some may not see the value of education at a younger age, getting a good grade becomes necessary out of fear of their parents. These students sometimes identify students at the top of the class to intimidate them to do their assignments and other academic deliverables.
To avoid any issues with bullies and being seen as a nerd, students would intentionally start performing poorly. Gone are the days when academic achievers were hailed in schools. These days, those at the top of the academic chart are stereotyped as nerds and made fun of by other students.
Students who receive their results without others finding out their grades would be able to improve academically without fear of being stereotyped.
Should Grades Be Shown Publicly
Opinions on this topic differ depending on the country and the individuals involved (teachers and students).
While in America FERPA regulations prevent educational institutions from making students’ grades available to 3rd parties unless authorized by the institution or parent, not every country has this level of protection for student grades.
Students’ grades are still publicly displayed in many parts of the world without concerns about student privacy or any consequences for the action. Although the reasoning behind these actions can be positive, it comes with negative consequences.
According to FERPA regulations, sensitive educational records which include social security, student ID numbers, grades, disciplinary history, attendance records and other personally identifiable information (PII) should not be made public without parental consent.
Only in the case of emergencies where this information is necessary to protect the health and safety of students should students’ personal information be made public. So, to answer the question of whether teachers are allowed to show student grades, the answer is:
No, FERPA regulations in the US prohibit teachers from revealing students’ grades and other personal information to others without the consent of legal guardians. Only in the event of an emergency where the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of students should their personal information be made public.
School administration, other teachers, lawyers, and health care professions are however the exception to this rule, although their access would still require some form of consent from the student or legal guardians.
Is It Illegal To Post Grades On Social Media
Yes, FERPA regulations prohibit teachers from revealing student grades to others without their permission or the permission of legal guardians. Posting student grades on social media is in breach of these regulations.
Any personally identifiable information cannot be posted or revealed unless given permission by the educational institution and parent of the student.
There may be cases where a teacher who is proud of their student’s achievement could end up posting their grades on social media. In this situation, the teacher can be legally held liable for breaching FERPA regulations irrespective of their good intentions.
It’s advisable that they acquire the consent of the student’s parents before making any decisions that could affect them.
Can Teachers Talk About Students On Social Media
No. While there’re no regulations preventing teachers from discussing topics politics and other controversial topics on social media, sharing any personally identifiable information (PII) about their students constitutes a breach of FERPA’s policies.
It’s advisable to acquire consent from parents and the institution before posting any sensitive information about a student on social media.
Even in cases where schools have to use student images in banners or advertisements on social media, parental consent is necessary.
Some institutions include these in the contract signed by parents, allowing these schools to use student images for any promotional content. Parents however have the right to opt-out of this if they choose to.
Teachers should however ensure they have the consent of the institutions before posting these promotional contents on their social media accounts.
Exceptions To Student Privacy Regulations
While FERPA regulations protect student privacy, there may be exceptional cases where student information can be revealed.
In the event where educational institutions must disclose student information, parents or students if they’re of legal age should be notified before any disclosure of information to third parties.
In general, FERPA laws demand written authorization from parents or “eligible students” (students who are at least 18 years old and enrolled in a postsecondary school) before releasing personally identifiable information (PII) from education records.
In the absence of this written consent, FERPA permits educational institutions to disclose PII from students’ records if it meets some conditions. A typical example is in the case where student academic information is required by another educational institution when vetting students for acceptance in their college or academic programs.
Another example is the district or local educational authority conducting audits of student performance. Student information may be required in this case in their data collection.
A third example is in the case where the educational institution is outsourcing institutional services or functions to a third party.
The third-party may be considered school officials if they are under the direct control of the school with respect to the use and maintenance of education records.