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How long should I retain grading records for my class?

September 5, 2017 | Claudia Stanny

How long should I retain grading records for my class?

The term is finished. You finished grading the exams and papers, computed final grades, and submitted them to the Registrar. Time to celebrate and clean the chaos that accumulates in your office in the last weeks of the term. You hope to begin the next term with a clean desk, an organized bookshelf, and orderly files.

What to do with old exams, syllabi, and other class materials you accumulated during the term?

Resist the temptation to pitch everything in the recycle bin. Some of these records will be useful to you. Other records must be retained.

Why save records from a class that is finished?

Faculty seldom use paper grade books to record and track grades on assignments they use to determine student grades. Most instructors now maintain a detailed record of grades earned on assignments and exams during a term as an Excel spreadsheet or in the eLearning grade book.

These records serve multiple purposes after the term is finished.

  • A student might request a letter of recommendation a year or more after completing your class.
  • If the student submits a grade appeal for the course, a detailed record will document how the instructor computed the final grade.
  • Should a student get an incomplete and the chair or another instructor must compute the final grade (e.g., when the original instructor is on sabbatical, is on medical leave, or has left the university), the records should be complete enough to determine a grade. Instructors must describe this process when they submit an Incomplete Grade for a course.

UWF must comply with records retention established by the State of Florida

The State of Florida Department of State (2015) identifies documents that must be retained and specifies the retention interval for these records. A small set of these records apply to university professors and academic departments.

What do I have to keep and why should I keep it?

Course Syllabus

The course syllabus documents course policies and procedures, including how you compute final grades. Should a student file a grade appeal, the course syllabus will support your decision about the course grade you assigned. Students often request copies of the syllabus (no, they don’t always keep their copy) when they transfer to another institution and want to document that the course they took at UWF is equivalent to a course with a similar name but different course number at another institution.

Class work retained by the instructor

If you do not return student work (term papers, homework, art work, lab project, and other class work), you are obliged to keep it.

Class exams

You need not keep every copy of the exam, but you must keep a copy of the test questions, answer key, and test administration instructions (usually included on the first page of the exam questions). Scantron forms can be returned to students; you will retain a record of the student score on the exam.

How long must I keep these materials?

The State of Florida record retention schedule describes different retention periods for different records. The easiest rule of thumb for faculty to follow is to retain syllabi, class exams, and other class work that you do not return to students for two calendar years after the end of the course. For example, for a course that ends on December 15, 2015 (the deadline for grade submission), these records must be retained until December 15, 2017.


Davis, B. G. (1993). Tools for teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services. (2015). General records schedule GS5 for public universities and colleges (R. 1B-24.003(1)(e), Florida Administrative Code). Retrieved from