Information About Privacy & ACE Assessment

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UNL’s general education program is founded on the belief that assessment of ACE-certified courses will lead to continuous improvement of student learning. A meaningful assessment of ACE is integral to the program and requires a review and evaluation of samples of student work from the colleges that host ACE-certified courses. The documentation that creates and guides the ACE program specifically provides for this kind of student work review. Several faculty members have asked whether the sharing of student work with the ACE program and its evaluators, without a formal consent from the student, should prompt concerns about students’ privacy rights.

Regents Policy 5.10 provides guidance with respect to student privacy rights. That policy, which is based upon federal law, states that a “school official” may have access to otherwise private student work, if the school official has a “legitimate educational interest.” Those terms are discussed in greater detail in the regents policy, and faculty are encouraged to review the Regents Policy 5.10 PDF, if they wish to learn about student privacy rights in greater detail. Whether one has a “legitimate educational interest” is closely related to whether access to the student information is necessary in order to perform one’s University duties. In consultation with the University’s Office of the General Counsel, we have been assured that the persons reviewing the sample student work do have a “legitimate educational interest,” and therefore, no student consent is needed; provided this access to the student work is permitted solely for ACE purposes. Evaluators may not discuss particular students or use the information outside of the context of an ACE-certified course evaluation. No other use of or reference to the student’s work is permitted.

In order to further protect privacy rights and avoid potential complaints, faculty should do what they can to preserve and honor students’ privacy. If possible, instructors should remove student names on the work that is collected and submitted as samples for assessment.

In addition, faculty are encouraged to notify students of the possibility that student work may be submitted to ACE by including information in the syllabus, such as the following: “Samples of student work will be collected to assess student learning in the course and program. The purpose of this assessment is to help faculty improve student learning opportunities, not to evaluate individual student work. Any students in ACE courses who are not willing to participate in this process should notify their instructor.”

The Blackboard assessment tool, which faculty can use to submit and house samples and assessments of student work, is password protected. Samples submitted for a course will be accessible only to the instructors on record for the course and the appropriate curriculum committees/department chairs conducting programmatic assessment.