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Posting Grades, Returning Papers and Record Confidentiality*

According to state and federal law [and UCSB policy] on privacy and confidentiality of student records, instructors cannot post grades by name, or leave exams or term papers out for pick up by students. Moreover, faculty are responsible for protecting the confidentiality of student grades and records.

While you may regard the confidentiality issue as an added annoyance to the many problems of teaching, many students are really quite uncomfortable about public posting of grades and leaving exams and papers lying around. Also there is an increasing problem with theft of exams and papers left out.

To comply with legal and policy requirements, graded materials should only by returned by the following means.

1. Hand out the papers directly to students during class or office hours. If you can't recognize the students, you should check photo IDs.
2. You can arrange for someone in the department to hand out the graded materials to students who come to the office to collect them (in this case, it would be advisable for the department office staff to check the photo ID of every student). You are free to limit or restrict the hours of collection.

Note: So far as posting grades is concerned, you cannot get around the privacy issue by using student numbers or initials. These are considered "personally identifiable" in Federal Privacy laws.

* Reprinted with permission from "Posting Grades, Returning Papers, and Record Confidentiality." In Teacher's Guide, p. 61. Los Angeles, CA: University of California, 1990.

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