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A MODEL INSTITUTIONAL POLICY ON THE PRIVACY OF STUDENT RECORDS IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE FAMILY EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS AND PRIVACY ACT OF 1974 AS AMENDED

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posted on 2023-08-05, 07:26 authored by William Charles Schuerman

The purpose of this study was to develop a model for a written institutional policy on the privacy of student records in American four-year colleges and universities that complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended (FERPA). Specifically, the study examined existing written policies and procedures concerning the privacy of student records at a random sample of post-secondary four-year institutions for commonality and compliance with FERPA. The elements common to the policies of a preponderance of the institutions studied, and which were in compliance with FERPA in the investigator's opinion, formed the basis for the model of reference. Documentary data in the form of written institutional student records policies as required by FERPA were requested from 100 four-year colleges and universities drawn randomly from the total universe of such institutions in America. Admissable data in the form of written FERPA policies, for the base year 1979, were obtained from 82% of the study institutions. Eighteen (18%) of the 100 schools reported having no written FERPA policy. Examination of the legislation, its final rules, and related commentaries found in the literature resulted in the identification of 53 FERPA elements considered essential for inclusion in a written institutional records policy. Principles of content analysis were used to examine the policies of study institutions as to their compliance to these 53 FERPA elements. Findings. The study developed a model FERPA policy based on the most frequent or "common" approaches to compliance among sample institutions for each of the identified FERPA elements. In addition, notable findings were: (1) Of the 82 written policies considered, none was found to be in full compliance with all of the FERPA requirements, and 64.5% contained less than 75% of the FERPA elements required. (2) The model written institutional policy on the privacy of student records resulting from the commonality exhibited by a preponderance of institutions was found not to be in full compliance with the requirements of FERPA. The model policy does not contain two essential elements required by legislation. (3) FERPA policies from private institutions complied with the essential requirements of the Act to a lesser extent than state controlled institutions and large institutions complied with FERPA to a greater extent than smaller institutions. Conclusions. Several conclusions seemed to be warranted by the findings of this study: (1) The final regulations and guidelines to FERPA issued by the Department of Health Education and Welfare and their enforcement procedures have been ineffective in producing full compliance to the requirements of FERPA. (2) American four-year colleges and universities have not overreacted in their efforts to comply with FERPA nor have the requirements of FERPA created an administrative burden for those charged with maintaining student records. (3) Colleges and universities have been as permissive as the law allows and grant no more in the way of privacy rights than is required by the Act. (4) A "standard" FERPA policy would be a valuable guide to all four-year colleges and universities. Recommendations. While the model policy produced by the findings was not found to comply fully with all the requirements of FERPA, certain recommendations, based on information provided by the study, seemed warranted concerning amendments to it which would satisfy all requirements of FERPA and which would bring it closer, in the investigator's opinion, to being a more complete and appropriate model policy. A final recommendation was that all four-year colleges and universities examine their present status in regard to compliance with FERPA using the amended model policy resulting from the study as the evaluative criterion for such examination.

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American University

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English

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Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 41-07, Section: A, page: 2964.; Ph.D. American University 1980.; English

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http://hdl.handle.net/1961/thesesdissertations:908

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