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Forum Guide to the Privacy of Student Information
NCES 2006-805
July 2006

Directory Information

If a school system discloses directory information, it must give "public notice" of this policy and explain what is included in such information. FERPA does not define "public notice," and the means of notification is left up to the school.

The term "directory information" is used for the portion of the education record that, if disclosed, would not generally be considered harmful or an invasion of privacy (34 CFR § 99.3). This may include the student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance.

Under FERPA, school systems have flexibility in deciding what information will be considered directory information. A list of the types of data that may be designated and disclosed as directory information is listed under the definition of "directory information" in the Code of Federal Regulations (34 CFR § 99.3). While school systems designate varying types of information as directory information, most include a student's name, family members' names, home address, and school activities. The height and weight of athletes may also be included.

School systems should give careful consideration to designating data as "directory information" because once this designation is given; school officials may distribute the information to anyone who requests it—in or outside the school.

School systems that disclose directory information must give "public notice" of this policy and explain what is included in such information; the notice must also indicate that parents may refuse to allow the school to designate any, or all, of their child's record as directory information. Several ways public notice can be given include: a notice in the registration package sent home to parents, a notice in the local newspaper, a notice in the school handbook distributed each year, or a posting on the school system's website. FERPA requires the notice to specify how much time parents have to tell the school or school system what, if any directory information they do not wish released.