IR Professionals’ Familiarity with FERPA

Changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) may affect IR professionals’ work. Are you up to date on FERPA?

In a recent AIR survey, 45% of respondents indicated that understanding FERPA is essential to their work, and 40% indicated that some knowledge of FERPA is helpful. However, among the survey respondents who experienced FERPA training within the past year—and are therefore familiar with recent changes in FERPA—73% indicated that knowledge of FERPA is essential.

Survey respondents conveyed varying levels of comfort with FERPA:

  • 48% of respondents indicated that their understandings are satisfactory and that they can handle basic issues with confidence;
  • 34% expressed confidence that they can handle all but the most complex, unique conditions;
  • 7% noted that they are uncomfortable with their understandings of FERPA; and
  • 4% identified as FERPA experts.

Individuals with recent FERPA training asserted the highest levels of confidence. Of the respondents who participated in training in the past year, 51% assessed their understandings of FERPA as confident, 31% expressed that they have satisfactory knowledge, and 13% identified as experts.

IR professionals learn about FERPA from a variety of sources.

  • 53% of respondents indicated that they taught themselves about FERPA with electronic and/or print means;
  • 35% participated in professional development at their institutions or organizations; and
  • 19% attended workshops outside of their institutions or organizations.

Other sources for information about FERPA noted by survey respondents included experience in previous professional positions, graduate school coursework, and consultation with FERPA experts on campus.

How important is knowledge of FERPA in your work? Do you have suggestions, cautions, or insights to offer other IR professionals? Share thoughts and questions below, and view the full survey results.



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Total Comments: 2
Randy posted on 12/13/2012 2:10 PM
I recently heard a presentation from a contractor who works on FERPA training for the Federal Government. In the presentation it was asserted that if an IR Officer left a report that included SS Numbers on his/her desk, even in his/her private office, that it could be a breach of FERPA if a visitor could enter the office or if physical plant/cleaning staff had access to the office.

I wondered how many IR Officers clean their desk tops and lock up all data reports each time they leave their office to go to meetings or home in the evening! I also wondered if IR Offices have established protocols for avoiding printing out reports that contain full SS Numbers.

I am confident that as a community we are doing a great job at complying with FERPA. I bet too that there is a large built-up set of best practices in the community that we could share and learn from.
Kat posted on 12/14/2012 9:19 AM
I am also curious to know more about how the "Freedom of Information Act" applies to IR offices and the types of data and information we collect and report.