CATEGORY L: Educational Agency Relations
PROCEDURE L2: Educational Research Involving District
The Districts consider research to be a public service and contribution to society and are eager to partner with universities and the research community. However, in all cases, the Districts will prioritize student learning first.
Consistent with Policy LCA, the Superintendent, subject to the approval of the School Committee, is authorized to cooperate with colleges, universities, and other recognized research agencies and researchers in promoting potentially useful research.
Any research studies involving students, staff or operations of the district will require approval of the Superintendent or his/her designee. Approval of a research project will include consideration of the following factors:
- The objectives of the research are clearly stated and are designed to produce valid and reliable results that will then be made available to the District(s) being researched.
- The research is expected to contribute to the general improvement of the education or welfare of students attending the District(s).
- Research proposals should be of sufficient scope and depth to justify the time and effort of District students and staff.
Additionally, research projects that involve the Districts will not:
- include compensation of staff or participants (state ethics law prohibits public employees from receiving gifts that result from their public service position); or
- directly “compete” with other projects planned or underway.
In general, instructional activities will not be interrupted unless there is a clear significance for the educational program of the District(s). Projects that interrupt instructional time (or the school day) in a substantial way are less likely to be approved.
The District(s) will make a determination about the level of parent consent needed in each project.
Data from school records, interviews, or questionnaires that may have potential for invasion of the privacy of students or their families must be authorized in advance, in writing by a parent or guardian, even though the data are to be collected and reported under conditions of anonymity.
The Human Subjects Review Committee of the university, college, or research agency in which the researcher is employed should also approve the project. If the researcher is not associated with a college, university, or research agency, the superintendent will make a determination on the suitability of the proposed research design.
If the research involves administration of surveys, notification must be provided to parents and students over 18 in accordance with the U.S. Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA), and they have the right to opt out of any survey administered which covers one or more of the following protected areas:
- political affiliations or beliefs of the student or the student’s parent;
- mental or psychological problems of the student or the student’s family;
- sex behavior or attitudes;
- illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
- critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
- legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
- religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or
- income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program).
Publishing of Findings
In no instances shall the research findings, or any portions thereof, be submitted for publication in any manner until and unless written approval is received from the Superintendent or his/her designee.
Process for Requesting a Research Project
The director of a research project must request a copy of district guidelines from the Central Office (Office of Teaching and Learning).
Prior to submitting a request, projects involving student researchers must have the prior written approval of a faculty member of the institution in which the student is enrolled. This faculty member must have direct responsibility for supervising the student’s research.
Requests for research projects must be submitted to the Central Office (Office of Teaching and Learning) for screening and conditional approval. The Central Office will review the research project proposal to verify that it meets the Districts’ criteria, as outlined in the guidelines and in this procedure. If the proposal is determined to be appropriate and complete, the Central Office will then instruct the researcher to contact the principal or appropriate district administrator who shall consider the project for approval. Note:Research projects that are referred to a school or District administrator for consideration have not yet been approved. Verification by the Central Office, while required, is not sufficient for approval. A project needs to be approved by both the Central Office and the appropriate building administrator (i.e., the Principal of the school in which the project is to take place).
Once referred by the Central Office, the director of the research project will be required to meet with the appropriate school administrator (usually the principal or his/her designee) or District administrator to review the proposal. The purpose of the meeting is to determine if the project fits within the priorities of the school, principal or administrator. Unless a research project aligns with an identified district priority, the school(s) will not promote one project over another.
The mandated meeting will also serve to ascertain whether there will be adequate staff interest for implementation of the project. Since participation by district staff is voluntary, staff support is essential. It is the principal or administrator’s discretion whether to share information about research project opportunities with staff.
Once approved by the principal or District administrator, a Memorandum of Understanding (M.O.U.) must be signed by the director of the research project and by the Superintendent or his/her designee. A research project may not commence until a M.O.U. is completed. The M.O.U. must include:
- Title of the research project
- The name of the director of the research project
- The sponsoring institution and name of the researcher
- Contact information for the researcher
- Scope of the research project including anticipated data sources
- Expectations regarding district resources—staff time and/or expenses to implement the project
The District(s) reserve the right to discontinue a project if it becomes disruptive to the school process or is not carried out in accordance with agreed upon conditions. Additionally, since participation by the District is voluntary, at any point in time participants representing the Districts(s) are free to discontinue their involvement.
If a research project is discontinued, the principal or her/his designee shall provide written notice to the director of the research project.