Career Services and COAM Chime in on Academic Data Retention

Deciding whether to store or destroy academic records from Carmen (D2L) is a key part of the adoption process for Canvas. We’ve shared how long to keep academic records and how to securely store the information that is being retained. Now we explore some rare cases in which it may be acceptable to hold on to grade-related information longer than recommended (while still stored securely, of course). We hope to provide answers to some frequently asked data retention questions:

What if a student contacts me years later, asking for a letter of recommendation or a job reference?

For these situations, it is not necessary for faculty members to have student grades on hand. It is up to the student to create a relationship with their instructors and provide them with any information they may need to properly write about or speak to the student’s skills.
Career Counselor Ryan Wilhelm says faculty “should be able to speak to the student’s background. Ideally that would occur without the records and with the information provided by the student.”
In this case, academic data tied to grades should be destroyed as the policy recommends, two terms after the term in which it was recorded. If grade-related information is needed for this process, it is the student’s responsibility to provide it.

What if a student wants to dispute a grade long after they’ve taken my class?

According to the Registrar, students are required to bring up grading issues during the current term or shortly after final grades are posted. This recommendation is in place to be sure grading documentation is still available and the faculty member is still part of the university.
Angela Ford, Academic Records Assistant, suggests that “faculty members work directly with the college or department to learn precisely what their procedures and policies are regarding specific situations.” If your department or college does not have any special procedures in place for dealing with extreme cases, you should follow the policies for properly storing grade records until it is time to destroy them.

What if I suspect a student of academic misconduct?

In this case, it may be necessary to hold academic records related to grades for longer than the two-term policy. Jay Hobgood, Coordinator for the Committee on Academic Misconduct (COAM), says “the faculty member should keep the academic records for at least two months after a [misconduct] case has been resolved in case the student appeals to the Provost.” 
However, since faculty are required to report misconduct issues within 30 days and COAM is required to resolve the case within a year, it is very likely that grade information can still be destroyed in a timely manner.