Are you worried about what might be on your record? Like, say, what are your teachers saying about you? That’s okay since you can see what they said and what you’ve been doing over your entire elementary and middle school career. You have the right to view it, and so do your parents. You should be worried about how long those records stay in the school system after you graduate. But don’t worry, not everything is permanent. There are a few different types of records that your school keeps on you, and you have the right to look at all of them.
What are the Types of Student Records?
There are two main categories that schools keep records under, which are organizational records and student records:
Organizational records are the kind of records the school keeps to keep itself running, kind of like a business, so they contain information on budgets, meetings, and all that sort of stuff.
The other type of records, student records, can be divided up into three more categories: permanent, temporary, and directory information.
The three subcategories of student records are all information pertaining to you, a student, so even if you don’t give the school permission to release your information, they can still do so in certain situations.
1. Permanent records
Permanent records are the records that your schools can threaten you with if you do something bad, like saying, “That’s going on your permanent record.” But besides keeping track of the number of times you broke the rules at your school, permanent records also contain a lot of other stuff too:
- General information about you
This is stuff like your name and address, your parent’s names and addresses, your birthday, birthplace, and gender.
- Attendance record
- Health record
- Any honors and awards you might’ve received
- Information about your participation in clubs and sports
If you’re in student government or a student leadership position like that, that’s also in your record
- Your academic transcript
This includes your grades, rank in the class, when you’re projected to graduate, and your scores on college entrance exams like the SAT or the ACT.
2. Temporary Records
Temporary records are just records of temporary information that the school doesn’t keep for very long compared to permanent records. They contain stuff like:
- Background information on you and your family
- Your IQ test scores
- Test scores from elementary and middle school
- Psychological examination results
- What your teachers say about you
- What rules you break also go in
Any disciplinary action taken on you is included with this part.
- If you’re in special education or not.
- Any extracurricular activities that you do
- Honors and awards for these extracurricular activities are also included here are also made a note of.
- Any information that the school thinks is relevant to you but not important enough to be put in the permanent record is in your temporary record.
3 . Directory information
Directory information is stuff that the school can release publicly. Although the school can release your temporary and permanent record because you signed a release form at the start of the school year every year, they still have to get your permission to do so.
They don’t have to ask for your consent for stuff in directory information, but they do have to tell your parents if they intend to release anything, and your parents have the right to request that information not be released. But don’t worry, it’s nothing too personal in directory information. Directory information is just identifying information like:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your grade level
- Any academic awards you’ve achieved
- What field of study you’re in
- How often you attend class
- Some information on any clubs, sports, or organizations that you may participate in at school
How are Student Records Kept?
Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, there are some pretty strict rules on how to keep student records. For one, they have to be secure, extremely secure, because you don’t want your personal information just floating freely out there for everybody to see. Fortunately, schools are pretty strict on keeping private student records because they’d lose funding if they didn’t. That’s why all schools comply with federal mandates because if they don’t follow what the government says, they lose all the money they need in order to stay open. So, because of that, don’t fret if you’re worried your school will somehow manage to mess up and get you and every other student’s information out for the public to see. If they do, they won’t be open for much longer.
How schools keep records was pretty simple back in the day, like ten or twenty years ago. They’d just have a folder with your name on it, and that’d contain every single piece of information they had on you. Nowadays, it gets a little more complicated.
Depending on how technology-driven your school is, they still may have the folder with all the papers, but some schools have gone completely digital, meaning your information is now in the cloud, so to speak. And if it is, you better hope that that cloud is encrypted since it’s easier to hack into a cloud than it is to break into a school to access that data. But there’s also some schools that have a hybrid of the two, so they keep both a folder and a digital folder at the same time. That way, if one gets lost, say the physical copy, they still have a backup online, and if the online copy goes down, they still have the physical backup.
It all depends on the school you’re going to since this kind of stuff varies drastically from school to school. Technically it depends on the teachers and the administrators at your school since they’re the ones who need to access the information the most. Assume most of your information is online since faculty don’t like to spend a lot of time sifting through piles of papers and would instead just type in a search bar and pull up your name within seconds. If that’s the case, don’t get too worried because school servers are usually heavily encrypted and are hard to get into without proper authorization.
Who Can Access Student Records?
Since you need proper authorization to access student records and transcripts, who has that authorization? You can, actually. You and your parents can access your records; after all, it’s your own records. Of course, you need to ask for permission and all that before you can actually do so, but it’s the thought that counts. Because of FERPA, your parents (and you) have the right to review and confirm the accuracy of education records. In this case, that refers to your permanent and temporary records. You don’t get to change anything in the records; you just get to review it for accuracy, like a confirmation page after you go through checkout when shopping online. You can request a change in the records if you’re 18, but if not, your parents have to do that for you.
If your parents find something in your record that’s inaccurate or could be considered misleading, they can submit a request for a change or correction, and the school has to respond to that request. Requests should follow the school procedure for them, but typically they’re in writing. The school doesn’t have to honor it if they think that the information is incorrect, but if the evidence presented is strong enough, they will change it. But if they deny the request, your parents have a right to a hearing and can present their evidence in that hearing.
Besides you and your parents, the school themselves can access your student records and transcripts. Obviously, they kind of need to be able to in order to edit and update them. They have free access to them whenever they want, but your teachers can’t just take a look at them whenever they want. The administration has free access, but teachers have to ask the administration to see the whole thing, besides the academic stuff. For example, if a teacher wanted to see the disciplinary action record of a student, they’d have to make a request to the administration, but if they wanted to see the academic record of a student, they could do so without asking permission to.
How Long Do Schools Keep Student Records After Graduating?
There’s a lot of confusion and variance on how long schools keep records of students since there’s no federal mandate on the exact length. FERPA doesn’t say anything about how long records should be kept, so the decision is left up to each individual state to decide. Generally speaking, that time comes out to be around five years for temporary records and sixty years for permanent records. However, since there’s no federal mandate, states can do whatever they want. In Missouri, temporary records are kept for around two years, while permanent records are kept indefinitely. But on the other side of the Mississippi River, in Illinois, schools follow that general rule, keeping temporary records for five years after graduation and permanent records for sixty.
How to Request Student Records?
The procedure for student records requests varies from school to school and also state to state. It’s highly suggested to verify for yourself the exact procedure to do so, but the general procedure remains the same for every school across the country.
First off, check what school district you’re in. That’s pretty important because while school districts may be similar in many ways, sometimes the records requests are the only thing different about them. Make sure that your district actually allows records requests, and if they do, you’re set. If not, unfortunately, you’re straight out of luck.
If your school district allows requests, check to see the procedure on how to do so. Oftentimes there will be a request form that you can fill out and return to the school, which is usually the simplest way, devoid of any human interaction besides handing it to a secretary in the administration building of your school. Otherwise, you can head to said administration building yourself and ask. Just march right in, talk to the secretary, and make your troubles known. She’ll get right to it, and eventually, your request will reach the principal, who will be able to provide you with the record that you so humbly requested.
If your school doesn’t let you talk to the principal, talk to your counselor instead. Usually, they don’t have the authorization to give you your records, but they have the authorization to give you your transcript, which is basically your academic record. You’ll have to ask your parents to talk to the principal for you in order to get the rest of the record.
Remember, the school is obligated to help you if you make a request, since it’s required by law that they do so. If you don’t understand anything on your record, they’re also required by law to explain it in a way that you can understand. Make sure if your parents can review your records, have them do it, so they can weed out anything that they deem is inaccurate or misleading. It helps to trim down your record because it tells teachers and administrators that you’re staying on top of everything and getting rid of anything irrelevant to the person that you are today. After all, what you did wrong in elementary school shouldn’t be on your record in high school making teachers doubt if you’re a good student or not. It’ll give your teachers and administrators a relief too, because they won’t have to wade through a giant folder full of things that you did ten years ago, and instead just look at things that you did last year.
Wrapping Things Up: How Long Do Schools Keep Records of Students?
Schools keep records on a lot of things about their students, and you and your parents have the right to see your own record. You also have the right to submit a request to change something in your record that you think is either wrong or irrelevant to your abilities as a student. It’s important that you use said right, because if you don’t, that misinformation is going to be sitting around for a pretty long time after you graduate high school. How long that time is varies from school to school, so it’s best to not risk it, especially if your school keeps your permanent record indefinitely. Besides, it’ll be a load off you and your parents’ minds.