FERPA isn’t so bad!

If you haven’t heard of FERPA, check wikipedia.  Okay, done?

Purdue must comply with FERPA. I’ve been trained on it and know that I must keep academic records of students private from their parents, from other students, etc.

Currently, I’m teaching a class of 20 without a TA. I’d like to randomly assign pairs of students to grade each others assignments. I would have thought that this would be a violation of the FERPA rules, as the student records would no longer be private.

Turns out the government thought of that!

Comment: We received several comments supporting the proposed changes to the definition of education records that would exclude from the definition grades on peer-graded papers before they are collected and recorded by a teacher. These commenters expressed appreciation that this revision would be consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on peer-graded papers in Owasso Independent School Dist. No. I-011 v. Falvo, 534 U.S. 426 (2002) (Owasso). Two commenters asked how the provision would be applied to the use of group projects and group grading within the classroom.


Discussion: The proposed changes to the definition of education
records in paragraph (b)(6) are designed to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Owasso, which held that peer grading does not violate FERPA. As noted in the NPRM, 73 FR 15576, the Court held in Owasso that peer grading does not violate FERPA because “the grades on students’ papers would not be covered under FERPA at least until the teacher has collected them and recorded them in his or her grade book.” 534 U.S. at 436.


As suggested by the Supreme Count in Owasso, 534 U.S. at 435, FERPA is not intended to interfere with a teacher’s ability to carry out customary practices, such as group grading of team assignments within the classroom. Just as FERPA does not prevent teachers from allowing students to grade a test or homework assignment of another student or from calling out that grade in class, even though the grade may eventually become an education record, [[Page 74812]] FERPA does not prohibit the discussion of group or individual grades on 

classroom group projects, so long as those individual grades have not yet been recorded by the teacher. The process of assigning grades or grading papers falls outside the definition of education records in FERPA because the grades are not “maintained” by an educational agency or institution at least until the teacher has recorded the grades.


From the Department of Education

Awesome! We’ll determine if people want to do this soon 🙂

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