First-Year Academics: Grades and Student Privacy
In dealing with information about individual students; faculty advisors, instructors, and staff should always be aware of the need to protect students' privacy. MIT's Student Information Policy explicitly addresses the responsibilities associated with handling student information. Consult also Section 1 of the Academic Guide.
Within the Institute, student information should be made available only to those officials with a legitimate need to know it. With few exceptions, it should NOT be made available to others—including parents and guardians—except with a student's specific, written consent.
This page offers information on two specific topics related to student privacy:
- Official versus Unofficial Grades
- Interaction with Parents and Other Third Parties
- Grades for Scholarships or Internships
MIT's educational policy is to provide internal "hidden" grades to first-term freshmen and their advisor solely for educational and advising purposes.These unofficial grades will stay hidden and are never included on an external transcript. MIT will never communicate the student’s internal grades to parents or any other third party outside of MIT without the student’s specific written permission. See Student Information Policy for complete information.
At the end of the first term at MIT, freshman advisors will be provided with hard copies of their advisees' unofficial grades.
- The Advisor Copy is placed in the student's Advisor Folder and will go on to the student's department at the end of first year.
- You give the Student Copy directly to the student. You'll note that the Student Copy has no identifying information on it because the hidden grades cannot be used for any purpose other than advising.
- The unofficial "hidden" grades Hidden grades cannot be released to third parties outside of MIT, including to parents.
- Moreover, as the advisor, you can not give your copy of the hidden grades to the student, nor can you provide grades for references, scholarships, or internships, etc.
The complete policy on the release of freshman hidden grades can be found in Section 8 of the Academic Guide.
The Student Information Policy can sometimes make it awkward when an advisor is questioned by a parent about an advisee's academic performance or status. Maybe the student has already shared some of this information with his or her parents, or occasionally a parent may have opened a grade report or Committee on Academic Performance (CAP) letter even though these are always addressed to the student.
- As the advisor, you cannot confirm, deny, or disclose personal or academic information to parents or others without your advisee's specific written consent. However, you may provide more general information about the meaning of MIT grades, academic policy and performance, and so forth.
- Be cautious when students telephone you for advising from their permanent home; their parents or guardians should not also be on the line. Email, too, is not always secure; be careful when emailing a non-MIT address.
- In general, you should encourage advisees and parents to communicate directly with each other about academic or personal issues. Refer difficult situations to the deans in Student Support Services at 617-253-4861, or to Deans Julie Norman or Donna Friedman, 617-253-6771.
A more complete statement of MIT's policy regarding disclosure of student information to parents and guardians can be found in section 6.1
Please note that, as the advisor, you cannot give your copy of the hidden grades to the student, nor can you provide grades for references, scholarships, or internships, etc.
Sometimes freshmen need to provide a transcript with grades when applying for scholarships, internships, or for insurance purposes. It is strictly against MIT's student educational policy for you or the student to use the hidden grades reports for any purpose other than advising.
- If the scholarship absolutely requires the internal (hidden) grades, the student must go to the Undergraduate Academic Administrator in each department in which s/he took a class (Physics, Math, etc.) to ask the Department to write a letter, addressed to the student
- The student may then forward a copy of this letter on to the scholarship for which s/he is applying. (section 6.3).