Ask the FERPA Professor

June 30, 2020
  • Records and Academic Services
  • Student Academic Records and Academic Policy
  • FERPA Professor
cartoon figure reminiscent of Einstein stands in front of a chalkboard with the board "FERPA" written on it

Dear FERPA Professor,

I'm writing with a question about whether or not video-recording students during an unproctored exam in order to prevent cheating, or having students flash their ID or driver's license in front of their webcams prior to the start of an exam to verify their identity, constitutes the creation of an education record. 

The expectation is that the video recording would be maintained for a (hopefully short) period of time in order to verify students' identities and whether or not cheating occurred during the exam.  Does this constitute an education record? Additionally, how long should we keep the video -- until the administrative purpose is served, or for 5 years after the end of the course/exam?

Hope to see you at AACRAO next year!


Final Exams in the Age of COVID


Dear Final:

The video recording of a student at the University would be an education record if it is maintained by the University or a party acting for the University.  If the proctoring service has been contracted by the University to provide this service, it would meet the conditions of §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B), the school official exception to signed consent.  Thus, any education records the service creates and maintains, would be education records subject to FERPA.  Remember too, it is the University's responsibility to ensure that the contractor is aware of and complying with all the requirements of FERPA, including the student's right to view those records.  You can find the above referenced regulatory language on page 159 of the 2012 AACRAO FERPA Guide.

Concerning your question on how long an institution should maintain education records, FERPA does not generally require that institutions maintain any education records.  Rather, it requires the institution to protect the privacy of those records it does maintain, and to provide the student access to them upon request.  Other Federal laws, State laws, and institutional policy would determine which, if any, records must be maintained and for what length of time. [ See AACRAO's publication Student Records Management: Retention, Disposal, and Archive of Student Records.]

I hope this is helpful in answering your questions, and I too hope we can meet at next year's conference.


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