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I have a question.

Can all the professors in a department see a particular student's grades?

Can the chair of a department see a student's grades?

closed as off-topic by Brian Borchers, jakebeal, RoboKaren, Fomite, Wrzlprmft Sep 25 '15 at 15:55

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  • 18
    This may vary from institution to institution, country to country. – Dave Clarke Apr 30 '12 at 7:31
  • 8
    In India, the grades of all students in all subjects are put up on a common notice board. – Bravo Apr 30 '12 at 14:18
  • Every professor (i.e., 3, but I assume all of them) in my faculty could see my transcript. But I was a research student. – Jase Dec 18 '12 at 16:47
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Officially and in general, no.

The teacher of a class should in general not share grades with his colleagues. Informally, however, there might be some communication of individual students' performance in ways that don't violate confidentiality: "she did very well on my class"; "he struggled on the exams, but did a very good job on the final project." Typically, this would be in the context of a colleague inquiring about hiring a student as a student worker or as a graduate student. Aggregate information could also be shared without harm to enable better matching of teaching to student needs and abilities.

That said, there are exceptions to this rule. For instance, your academic or research advisor will typically have access to all of your grades. Similarly, an evaluation panel—such as one that convenes for a graduate student's qualifying exams—will probably have access to all of the student's academic record.

But a random professor generally will not see a student's grades in all courses. This is by design and a logical move.

  • 8
    US Federal Law forbids disclosing student's education records—in particular, grades—to faculty without a "legitimate educational interest". My university interprets this restriction very narrowly. I can of course see the grades that I assign to students, and I can see all grades for the handful of students I advise, but that's it. For the same reasons, I'm forbidden to post pseudonymized grades on my door or to leave graded exams in a box outside my office. – JeffE Apr 30 '12 at 9:06
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    The Federal Law @JeffE referred to (often acronym'd as "ferpa") prohibits the disclosure to anyone, not just faculty, without "legitimate educational interest". It (or rather a interpretation of it) is "responsible" for Georgia Tech shutting down all public collaborative-learning Wikis in November of 2011. – Willie Wong Apr 30 '12 at 11:49
  • 1
    We have a designated Director of Undergraduate studies who has access to student grades. But individual faculty cannot see grades except for classes they are teaching, and it's considered unethical to (say) determine what grades your student got in other classes. – Suresh May 2 '12 at 6:58
  • 4
    In India, any Professor can see any student's grades. Something which increases negative 'emotions' about a student when he fails to perform in a particular subject. – Naresh Nov 26 '12 at 4:47
  • 4
    In italy, even classmates can typically see everyone else's grades, so this definitely widely varies between countries and institutions – Thomas Bonini Dec 4 '14 at 17:14
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This seems to have changed somewhat recently at our school. I used to only have access to the grades of my advisees and perhaps current students. For the last year or two though, I seem to have much wider access.

A student from another department stopped by to talk with me about possibly attending grad school in our program. I looked him up in our computer system, and could see his whole transcript (which classes were taken in which semesters and the course grade for each). I've never looked up transcripts for students who I don't somehow know (either my advisee, or in a class I'm teaching, or at least someone who has asked me advising questions), but for the last year or more I've had access to every student transcript that I've looked for.

  • I also have access to transcripts and final grade data (and a whole lot else) for every student that I look for, with the interesting exception being that I have trouble accessing my own grades in courses I have taken. Our institution likely went this route knowing that a student may likely be advised by multiple people in addition to their own adviser. – Ben Norris Aug 25 '12 at 19:24
  • I suspect your increased access is by accident rather than design. Either that, or your university interprets FERPA much more liberally than mine. – JeffE Aug 26 '12 at 1:10
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    @JeffE The increased access is widely known within my department, and generally viewed as a good thing. I can't say for sure whether it's intentional or not, but my guess would be that it is. – Dan C Aug 26 '12 at 4:29
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At the college I taught at, it was forbidden for anyone to reveal grades to anyone. The only people who had access to grades were the teachers who taught the course in question (I could see your scores only for classes I taught you) and counselors. Other teachers did not have access. Of course, some teachers did share grades informally.

In the Vietnamese university I teach at now, grades are posted publicly and actually emailed to every other student in the same cohort and teachers freely share grades with each other because they are not considered private.

In short, it depends on the rules and regulations where you are in addition to the informal relationships around that institution.

2

As others have mentioned this depends upon the place where you are.

In Spain, at the end of each term the grades of all the students registered for each of the available courses are publicly posted on a board.

I suspect it might be similar elsewhere in Europe. I remember seeing similar grade spreadsheets posted on a board here in Finland.

  • That was true when I was a student about 20 years ago, but it has never been true in the several universities in Barcelona I've been teaching in the last ten years. Grades are now communicated to the students using virtual campuses where they can only access their own grades. – Pere Dec 7 '17 at 15:20
2

Another variant of the various models described in these answers, to illustrate the vast diversity in procedures and how there is no globally correct single answer to the question:

I am most used to exam corrections being community efforts. That is, when a (written) exam of a class by one professor has taken place, the whole department of that professor will be asked to help checking the exams. This is so the (substantial!) workload of correcting 50+ exams is shared.

In effect, it usually means that a considerable part of the PhD candidates of the department will do the checking, and often (as one person checking one particular task across all students is more efficient than one person checking all tasks only for a small set of students) this means that each of these PhD candidates will have seen the overall performance of each student in the exam.

Summary: In some places, it can be assumed that everyone within one department knows about student grades in some way obtained from that same department.

As a rough guideline, this can easily mean some 20 people or more were involved.

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