How to Archive Student Records Securely and Digitally with PDF


Schools in the education sector are responsible for saving, retaining, and archiving their own student records. When prompted, schools are expected to have their past and present student files on hand for retrieval. However, document record keeping can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Paper documents are expensive, as are digital storage costs. With hundreds to thousands of students per campus, it’s easy to say that student record keeping is not a simple task.

The Different Student Record Categories

Education records are split up into independent categories depending on the individual document content. Each category has different student documents with separate retention schedules that need to be followed. Listed below are the common education records with their corresponding retention schedule:

Mandatory Permanent Pupil Records – Retained Permanently

  • Student identification documents
  • School attendance dates, graduation/exit dates
  • Academic records (course grades, health immunizations)

Mandatory Interim Pupil Records – Retained 3 Years After

  • Health/Special education information
  • Progress reports, standardized test scores, language training
  • Parental Authorizations or Restrictions

Permitted Pupil Records – Retained 6 Months After

  • Teacher/Counselor ratings
  • Standardized test scores (older than 3 years)
  • Behavioral reports (attendance, discipline)

With these necessary retention schedules, optimizing each specific document before storage would be the best way to increase efficiency and save on costs.

How to Prepare Records for Storage

Before student records can be archived for storage, schools need to properly edit and organize their documents so they can retrieve any student information when needed. With Foxit’s PDF document solutions, schools can convert paper records to digital formats, compress digital files into smaller sizes, make documents text searchable (OCR), redact confidential information, password protect, index, and archive for easy retrieval when needed. Here’s how:

Convert to PDF/A

PDF/A is a PDF format created for the preservation of documents by storing them in a universally recognized format. As a PDF format under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), this ensures documents retain their original layout (i.e. all images, text, and links stay in place) across all platforms. For schools that are expected to access and share documents down the line, this ISO-standard document formation is much more reliable and consistent in comparison to other document file formats such as Word Docs.

Reduce Document Size

With Foxit PhantomPDF, schools can take their student record documents and compress them into a smaller file size without changing their quality. Foxit’s PDF technology can reduce storage size by 50% or more, drastically reducing costs.

Make Documents Text-Searchable with OCR Technology

Being able to retrieve the right student information is a must when it comes to education records. Many times, a scanned document is not text-searchable, even if it is in PDF. With Foxit PhantomPDF, schools can run OCR to automatically make the documents text-searchable and easily locate information in each student record.

Add, Remove, and Edit Metadata

Student records are separated into different categories with their own retainment schedule. Being able to look at metadata of the document to see when each record has been created and by whom is important to track how long the document has been around. With Foxit PhantomPDF, users can create, edit, and remove metadata on their documents to make sure there are clear indications of when the document was created or changed, and by whom.

Compliance and Security Under FERPA, schools are legally required to prevent the spread of their students’ information in order to protect their privacy. With student records, it’s important to make sure that some confidential information is protected before sending documents out. With Foxit PhantomPDF, schools can easily redact their documents and permanently cover/remove visible information such as name, address, and SCCN. Schools can also set password restrictions to prevent their documents from being viewed, edited, or printed unless granted permission otherwise.

DMS Integration

Foxit PhantomPDF has up to 14 different integrations with document management systems (DMS/EMS) such as DropBox, Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc. With our integrations, you can log into your DMS account and open your documents directly from your share drive and edit on our PDF Editor—saving time and working more efficiently on the same platform.

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