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Forum Guide to Protecting the Privacy of Student Information: State and Local Education Agencies

3.E. Determining the Longevity of Records

Many states have legal requirements defining how long education records must or may be kept. There may also be federal requirements for how long some data should be maintained. School districts should have more specific policies noting exactly which data to store and how long data should be maintained. For instance, transcript information for high school completers is often kept active for a fixed length of time, such as 5 to 10 years. With information technology, storage space is no longer as significant a problem, and student transcripts may be kept active even longer. Two recommended components to include in a school or district data policy are a listing of what data elements are included in the school transcript or record (sent with students when they move) and a time period for how long these records will be maintained.

Other types of data (e.g., after-school care arrangements or extracurricular activities) may not be needed after a certain period of time (e.g., 1 year or after a student has left the school. It is a good idea to include in a written data policy an indication of which data elements will be expunged from education records and when they will be deleted. Finally, there are some data that a school or agency may want to expunge to protect the student. Disciplinary actions are an example; state law or local policy usually governs these cases.