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 Home > News > Are Grades Education Records? U. S. Supreme Court to Decide (October 24, 2001)

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Are Grades Education Records? U. S. Supreme Court Will Decide

In Falvo v. Owasso Indep. School District, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit was asked to decide if allowing students to grade one another's papers and call grades out in class violated the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).


Kristja Falvo is the mother of three children who attended school in Owasso Independent School District. In this district, the teachers had students grade one another's assignments and tests and call out these grades out to the teacher.

Ms. Falvo complained that her children were embarrassed when other students learned their grades. She felt the practice violated their rights to privacy. The district continued to use this grading practice.

When the court examined the practice of having students grade one another's tests and other work and call out their grades in class, the court found that this practice violates FERPA:

"The plain language of the relevant provision of FERPA . . . reveals that it is intended to protect the privacy of students and their parents . . . an educational agency or institution is absolutely precluded from receiving federal funds if it maintains a policy or practice of allowing disclosure of education records to unauthorized individuals or entities without parental consent."

Can Parents Challenge Grades?

According to FERPA, schools must provide parents an opportunity to challenge the content of education records.

Does this include grades? The Court of Appeals found:

"The School District asserts that Congress could not have reasonably intended to allow parents to challenge in a hearing the accuracy of a grade placed on a student's homework or test by another student."

"To the contrary, Congress could have sensibly intended to provide parents a means to challenge the accuracy of grades on individual homework and test papers. Indeed, a challenge to "institutional records" such as a semester grade might necessarily require an investigation into the accuracy of the individual homework and test grades used to calculate the final semester grade."

"Imagine a student who . . . records grades on another student's papers which are lower than that which the student actually earned. Such inaccurate student grading could significantly impact the slighted student's more permanent grades. In such a situation, a parent has a definite and strong need to challenge the accuracy of the student-recorded

Read the 10th Circuit's decision and learn more about rights under FERPA.

URL: http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/2001/10th_falvo_owasso.htm

The district appealed this decision to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Court heard oral argument on November 27, 2001.

REVERSED: On February 19, 2002, the U. S. Supreme Court reversed the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and held that peer grading does not violate FERPA. (534 U. S. ____ (2002))

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