Confidentiality for IELTS Test Scores
IELTS Privacy Policies for Scores and other Student Information
IELTS pledges to use all of the data it collects on test-takers in a manner that is "lawful and correct." Personal information, including test scores, is used by IELTS "only to the extent that it is needed to fulfill [their] operational needs or to comply with any legal requirement." For the most part, this means that scores are confidential and that students have a high degree of control over the release of their information. IELTS will disclose scores that can be associated with a specific individual only to those organizations chosen by the student to receive score reports, such as universities or visa agencies. Aside from scores, test-taker information compiled includes name, email address, postal address, date of birth, gender, nationality, native language, educational credentials, employment history, and passport or national identification card data. Test scores and other personal information may be used by IELTS in "anonymous form" (without identifying the involved test-takers) for "informational, research, statistical, and training purposes for the development of Cambridge Assessment English examinations." Examples include annual reports on test-taker performance, validity studies, or demographic surveys.
Privacy and the IELTS Website
IELTS tracks user behavior on its website using cookies, and visiting all IELTS webpages constitutes explicit consent to this tracking. Aggregate data such as the number of page views, number of unique users, length of time spent on the site, and file downloads are routinely collected by IELTS webmasters. IELTS uses Google Analytics to obtain and process this information. The IELTS website includes links to a number of external webpages, and IELTS claims neither knowledge of nor responsibility for the privacy policies of those sites.
Security for the IELTS
Several security measures help maintain the confidentiality of IELTS scores and test-taker personal information. The registration and testing procedure may include biometric scans and other identity verification protocols, and test center staff receive special training to detect fraud and prevent cheating. Test results are always scrutinized for irregularities before scores are released to students, and any possible violations of applicable laws are promptly reported to the relevant authorities.
IELTS Results Verification Service
The IELTS Results Verification Service allows organizations to confirm that Test Report Forms are authentic and have not been altered in any way. Once an organization registers with IELTS, its representatives can conduct score verification online, and they may also download copies of score reports. At the request of these organizations, IELTS will investigate any discrepancies between verified scores and forms submitted by test-takers.
Other Relevant Privacy Policies
Test-takers may also wish to understand their privacy rights with respect to all of the entities involved in the IELTS. Each of the organizations that owns and administers the exam has its own set of privacy practices. Information on the data protection policies for the British Council, IDP Education, and Cambridge Assessment English can be found on the websites of those organizations. Students concerned about the use of their data are encouraged to review all other privacy policies of relevance.
Student Privacy and the Law
In the United States, student information enjoys a broad set of protections under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This 1974 federal law prevents educational organizations from disclosing student education records, of which test scores are a part, without the consent of the student. Some individual American states have additional laws limiting release of student data. The Australian Privacy Principles, part of the Privacy Act of 1988, places certain obligations on organizations that handle "sensitive information" (such as test scores) in that country. In the United Kingdom, organizations that release information in violation of the Data Protection Act of 1998 may be subject to monetary fines, according to a 2008 Act of Parliament. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada enforces two relevant privacy laws: The Privacy Act (which applies to the handling of information by government agencies) and The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (which governs businesses and the private sector). Student privacy is an issue that is taken seriously by governments, and within certain limits, student test scores are confidential by law.