“Be careful young man. If you keep this up, this will go on your permanent school record!” said the teacher to the misbehaving student.
This type of threat has been heard in schools over the years and the thought of a cumulative record that follows students as they progress through school is intriguing. It is also a bit of a mystery what exactly is in students’ cumulative records.
Student records typically contain students’ attendance, discipline records, health screenings, grades and performance on standardized testing over the years. It can also contain a range of documents including custody arrangements, legal documents, and school photographs.
In addition, some students have other school files related to special education. Often these files are kept separate from the cumulative records as they contain more sensitive information. The special education files contain a record of all of the special education services students have received over the years. This includes assessments, records of annual meetings, and any accommodations that students have received in the classroom.
The system of separating general student records from special education records has changed over the past few years. Kentucky schools have gone digital with school records and uploaded them to Infinite Campus. Infinite Campus is a third-party business separate from the school system that assists schools in keeping student records.
Many parents have accessed Infinite Campus to see their children’s grades and whether they have been turning in their assignments. This is a handy feature as it bypasses the need to rely on children truthfully telling their parents about whether they handed in their homework or how well they did on an exam. This can assist parents in becoming aware of academic problems well before the 9-week report cards come home.
Most school districts start allowing parents access to their children’s records through Infinite Campus by middle school, if not sooner. Parents can request a password from their children’s school to access the Infinite Campus website.
As helpful as Infinite Campus is in allowing access to student assignments and grades, it is still limited compared to the information the school has in student cumulative folders. This does not mean that the additional information is off-limits to parents. All parents have the right to see their children’s entire cumulative folder when they request it.
Way back in 1974, Congress passed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA allows parents access to their children’s education records and restricts who else can look at those records. This usually means that children’s teachers, school administrators, and school support staff such as physical therapists and school psychologists can access the records.
FERPA defines education records to include not only the student cumulative folder but any other records that pertains to children’s education. This means that parents can have access to the records generated by programs like Accelerated Reader and other academic intervention programs.
Many parents are unaware of their rights to access these records and yet these records can be helpful in shedding light on their children’s academic progress. Take advantage of the access FERPA provides and check on your child’s cumulative folder and academic records. You may be surprised at what they contain.
This article was published in the Richmond Register daily Sunday on September 28, 2014.