Managing Research Requests in a Local Education Agency


Hello everyone and welcome to today’s webinar, “Managing Research Requests in a Local Education Agency.” My name is Jane Alexander, and I am an associate research analyst at CNA and I also work on REL Appalachia. REL Appalachia and the National Forum on Education Statistics have partnered to bring you today’s webinar. Today we’re going to talk about what is a REL and what do we do, core practices from the forum guide for managing research requests at the district level, perspectives from a district administrator on how to translate core practices into action, and online tools and supports to aid LEA in developing a system for managing research requests. We’ll finish with Q&A, so please save your questions for the end of the presentation, but you can submit them in the question chat box throughout and I will be monitoring those so that we can be sure we address those at the end. And then we also have the opportunity for you to provide us feedback on today’s event through a brief survey, the stakeholder’s feedback survey. Okay, what is a REL? REL stands for Regional Educational Laboratory. There are ten RELs across the country that serve all 50 states. This is a map that shows the geographic distribution of the ten RELs. And REL Appalachia serves the four states shaded in grey, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The REL program is sponsored and administered by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education. RELs serve the education needs of designated regions using applied research, development, dissemination, and training and technical assistance to bring the latest and best research and proven practices into school improvement. I think I just covered that in the mission of the REL. Okay, that wraps up my introduction of the RELs. And now onto the content of today’s webinar. The speakers today are Christina Tydeman, Robert Rodosky, and Julie Kochanek. Christina is going to start us off, and Christina is the director of the Data Governance Office at the Hawaii Department of Education. She was also one of the forum guides working group members. Next, Robert Rodosky will share his perspective on implementing a research request management system in Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky, where Bob is the chief officer of data management planning and program evaluation at the district. Lastly, Julie Kochanek, director of research at REL Northeast and Islands, will show us the online set of tools that she and her team developed to help districts develop a research request management system, and Julie will talk to us about these supports. Just briefly, here are the goals for today’s presentation. As I mentioned earlier, Christina will be presenting on the national forum guide. And then we’ll hear from Bob about how to implement best practices that align with an LEAs strategic plan at a district level. And then, lastly, Julie will show us some best practices and tools that can increase the effectiveness and reduce the burden on education agencies for processing research requests. And at the end of the webinar, as I’ve mentioned, you’ll have the opportunity to let us know if we’ve achieved these goals. So now I’ll turn the presentation over to Christina to introduce us to the forum guide. Christina. Thank you. I will be introducing a new guide book entitled “Supporting Data Access for Researchers and LEAs, or Local Education Agency Perspective.” This presentation has been developed to help you understand the rationale, need for, and impact of developing a framework in your local education agency for supporting data access for researchers. This presentation will help you understand the value of a data access framework and the steps to creating a data access framework in your LEA. The document I’ll be talking about was developed by the National Forum on Education Statistics. The purpose of the forum is to improve the quality, comparability, and utility of elementary and secondary education data. For information about the forum you can go to the website listed on this slide. In 2012 the forum released the forum guide to supporting data access for researchers, a state education agency perspective. Subsequently, the LEA Data Access Working Group modified this SEA guide to create a companion guide that is more relevant to LEAs. Both the SEA and LEA versions are available online at the forum website. The LEA guide is intended to assist LEAs with addressing two primary issues. First, for LEAs, responding to and servicing researcher request for data access requires a significant amount of staff time and effort. Second, requests often fail to align with the agency’s strategic priorities and, as a result, research findings infrequently support the LEA in its efforts to educate students. In other words, researchers often develop their proposals without input from the LEA. The working group had six members representing six LEAs from six states. The purpose of the LEA guide is to help the LEAs more efficiently and responsibly support access to data and ensure the research conducted in the LEA results in findings that enhance the agency’s effort to educate its students. It also includes policies, practices, and templates that can be adapted or adopted. The guide is focused on two primary and one secondary audience. The primary audiences are the local education agency policymakers and the local education agency data managers. Data managers are those roles responsible for managing and responding to data requests for access. The secondary audience is the research community. The research community includes people such as academic researchers, doctoral graduate students, including LEA staff pursuing advanced degrees, a local or national research organization, community members, advocacy organizations, public interest groups, and other stakeholders who engage in education research. A fundamental difference between SEAs and LEAs is that LEAs generally receive requests from researchers for two types of data, new data, sometimes referred to as primary research, and existing data, sometimes referred to as secondary research. A single research project may also include a request for both types of data. Education agencies often have some discretion when deciding whether and how to support research, unless they are requests for data through state open record laws or the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, or PPRA, both of which are not addressed in this guide. An LEA’s research agenda may be in the forum of key research questions or an outline of the LEA’s strategic plan. The agenda is also a sound rationale for prioritizing requests and helps researchers to avoid proposing research that an LEA is unlikely to support. LEAs can share the research agenda with their local colleges of education to guide the development of research proposals. An example agenda is included in the appendix of the guide. The guide provides an in-depth discussion of core practices or steps for handling data access requests. Next slide. The guide includes seven core practices. Each practice is addressed at length in the second part of the guide. The first core practice is to inform researchers, helping create, promote, and use a research agenda, developing policies about training and the requirements for researchers, identifying and developing resources that help the researcher understand how to request information, and establishing communications with researchers during the data request access and use timeline. The second is create effective request forms for researchers, designing forums that are likely to generate the necessary information in an efficient manner. To help users, the appendix includes templates for commonly used forms such as preliminary data access requests forms, full data access request forms, data accessing agreements forms, agreement modification request forms, personal access agreement forms, and data destruction certification forms. For example, LEAs can consider using the preliminary data access request form to minimize the burden on prospective researchers while still providing adequate information for an initial review of a request, or design and implement a full data access form that requires all of the information needed for the request to be evaluated. Third is to review requests strategically, developing processes for channeling requests and assigning responsibility for reviewing those requests, standardizing review methods, and determining which participants and frequency of review team meetings. It can also include logging requests, confirming their receipt, and monitoring their progress throughout the request. Review methods should include establishing clear rules for escalating requests throughout the review process, and, when appropriate, developing MOUs or other agreements in advance to guide the process of handling requests that involve data from other agencies. Four is managing the request process efficiently, and this involves establishing communication and clearly communicating the eligibility criteria; developing a searchable system that allows the LEA to track the entire data access process from receiving requests to the data destruction. LEAs are legally accountable through the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA, for recordation of the release of all personally identifiable information, and also streamline requests for smaller datasets that may not take as long to service as requests for larger datasets. Five is permit data access appropriately, creating checklists that allow review prior to releasing data, discerning whether it’s new data collection or existing data collection. The LEA is responsible for the safety of its students during any interactions with researchers, and the LEA must ensure that the security of the data it has allowed third party researchers to access, including anticipating the possibility of stolen media, intercepted transmissions, and unethical data matching activities. Because the use of statistical and presentation methods can affect the analysis and interpretation of data, it is important that researchers be aware of the modified nature of any suppressed mass, de-identified and anonymized data they receive. Monitor data use, the LEA needs to confirm researchers are adhering to agreements and considering modifications for any data accessing agreements that may exist, and ensuring that those modifications are documented and stored to be able to be tracked with the original request. It’s also important to ensure that the research outcomes prevent any unintended disclosure of personally identifiable information and confirm that the project has completed and the data instruction has occurred. Monitoring encourages clear and ongoing communication between the LEA and researcher, not just an update email. In order for education researcher to meet its intended outcome that is a positive impact on student learning, the research findings must be available to the LEA and effectively implemented in the agency. The researchers are encouraged to effectively communicate findings in ways that are easily disseminated to a range of stakeholders, and the LEAs are encouraged to use the research findings to inform their work. This is a recap of the seven core practices. The first, helping researchers understand the agency’s data and the data request process. Second, creating effective request forms for researchers. Third, reviewing data requests strategically. And fourth is managing the data request process efficiently. Five, releasing data appropriately. Six, monitoring data use. And seven, using the research findings in the LEA. The guide also includes an example of a model of success, which Bob will be sharing in the next portion of this webinar. Once again, the links to the resources mentioned are provided here. And now I will be handing off to Bob Rodosky for the model of success. Okay, thank you, Christina. Before I get started on how we handle research requests, I would like to describe our school district to give you a little context. We have 102,000 students. We have students from pre-K to 12th grade. We have approximately 165 schools, 29 of which are called “special schools” for students that have needs, from trying to get better discipline to special education to English language learner needs. We also have 6,500 certified employees and 6,500 classified employees. And the demographics of our district are basically 49% Caucasian students, 38% African Americans, and 13% students from, like, other groups. The reason why I am giving you this context is that over the years — and I’ve been at our district for about 30 years — we have found out that people that want to do research will access just about anyone that is involved in our school district. So in the past we have had, quote, researchers or graduate students, or whomever, basically approach a teacher, approach maybe a group of teachers, approach an instructional supervisor, approach an assistant superintendent, et cetera, about doing research. And in the past we did try to implement the core practices, not in a systemic way as presented in the forum group, but we did try to control access, because one of the key things about schools and school districts is we just have a few hours with the students each day. And when you think about a school year,we only have approximately 1,090 hours of potential instruction with students. And so any kind of request that takes away from our focus of student instruction has to have good reason for us to even think about doing it. So about two years ago several things were happening in our district; one is we got a new superintendent, and the superintendent and the school board, they developed, along with the community, a strategic plan, and I will describe that in a few minutes. The second thing is that we had a management audit conducted in which the management audit said that there were approximately 700-plus programs in our district, of which they were wondering about the value of the programs. And they asked for the programs to either be evaluated or have a research base. And then the third thing that happened was that this forum guide was being developed, and I’m part of the forum, I’m the Kentucky LEA representative, and so I knew about it and I was “feeding my people” the work of the working group. And we actually tried the seven core practices with a group of graduate students that were our employees around the strategic plan, and it worked very well, and that’s the example that’s in the forum guide. So, as I was saying — whoops, I forgot to change my slide, and I apologize. These seven core practices, I think, are very important, and the key to it is to have a strategic plan that will guide a research agenda, because that will help you prioritize. So two years ago these three things were coming together. And we have been fairly transparent with our data over the last 20 years. We have had something called “data books,” which we have published annually that basically tried to answer the 15 most pressing questions that we typically get on a regular basis, things like what is the achievement data of various student groups, what’s the demographics of our schools, do we have any correlations between achievement and attendance, and just various things like that. So we publish these books, and that has helped take some of the request off the plate. But we are also in a metropolitan area and we have at least ten universities within an hour’s driving time of Louisville, and so we get requests from graduate students — well, from undergraduate and graduate students, faculty. We also get research requests from foundations. We get research requests from our partners out in the communities, folks like Metro United Way, the Urban League, the NAACP, you know, they are our partners and they’re asking us about research that they have seen done elsewhere and they would like to know the situation in our district. So basically we have a lot of folks that want to do “research in our district” or at least get data. So on this slide I’m going to start at the bottom. What we did was we basically created an online data request management system that basically follows the seven core practices. And the initial access to the system is to basically ask what kind of data do you want. This is a fairly simple point-and-click system. There’s basically five choices. The top choice is “Do you have a project that needs IRB,” and then there’s some things about military recruitment, directory information, external community kind of information, and/or is it an internal request for JCPSM employees only. We also have on our cover page we have links to information about what is IRB. We have links to the FERPA 2011 documentation. And we also have links to the Code of Federal Regulations involving Title 45, Public Welfare, and Title 46, Protection of Human Subjects. We really expect people that want to do research here to have some idea around FERPA and IRB and some of the protections of human subjects. And most of the universities in our area require graduate students to go through a three-hour online training around these issues. So, anyway, with that you basically access our system, and if you are an IRB or if you want to do research, we do ask you some other questions that have to do sort of with details with your research and asking if there’s particular schools that you want to access, particular groups of students, et cetera. And most of these questions, if you are seeking IRB institutional approval from your university, you have probably answered these questions already, and we want to know about it. We do want to know, though, about the expedited and the full IRB reviews. And we do pay careful attention to those because those are where we do have to make sure that we are protecting the rights of our students and the rights of our employees. Now here’s where we talk to the researchers, and basically what we’re doing is we’re assessing what you’re requesting of us in terms of the burden that you’re placing on us. I mean, what burden are you placing on us and what value are we going to get out of your research? And we feel that what we want is a partnership. We’re more than willing to try to help you if we feel that the work you’re going to do is going to be of value to us. We feel that the more that you can keep the research within the data management business processes, i.e. central office of our district, the better it is, because, once again, we only have 1,093 instructional hours and we want to make sure that those hours are spent on teaching students. So let’s go to our strategic plan. Our strategic plan has really helped us in terms of prioritizing our research agenda and also in prioritizing the request from outside organizations or individuals that want to do research. We really have four goal areas in our strategic plan. And the four goal areas are listed on this slide. The first is increased learning. The second is graduation and success beyond graduation. The third is stakeholder involvement and engagement. And the fourth is safe resource supported and equipped schools. Now, under each of these four goal areas we have strategies listed on how we are going to achieve the goals that are listed in each of these areas. And so we have 36 strategies that basically cover these four goal areas. And after the 36 strategies we actually have success measures for each goal area. So under increased learning and graduation and success beyond graduation we actually have the success measures, the accountability system that is used here in Kentucky. And so there is data that is listed around student testing, student growth, around students that would be in the traditional gap areas, around college and career readiness, and around graduation rates. And with each of these goal areas, or with each of these success measures, we have something called “leading indicators,” which is another list of data that we have that sort of ties into the goal areas. So one of the things is we expect students to be in school. So a leading indicator for student achievement is student attendance or we don’t expect you to be suspended, because if you’re suspended you aren’t in school. So suspensions, the reduction of, would be a leading indicator for, once again, student achievement. So anyways, if somebody would pick up our strategic plan, a person looking for, like, research or a person that wants to do research, they could see these 36 strategies, and then they could actually see the datasets that we have in our district that we are using to monitor whether we’re going to meet our goals or not. And this, I think, would be very helpful to any kind of researcher that wants to access our district. So once we had this, this system, we’re finding out that it’s been very helpful in terms of us being more efficient and effective. So, for instance, so far this year we’ve had 1,010 basic different information requests, and of those 1,010, we’ve had 172 that we feel are like research requests that required an IRB. And one of the things that I want to emphasize is you have to sort of click, that, yes — I mean you have to tell us that you are obtaining IRB approval from your institution. If you don’t, and if you say, yes, you have it, we ask for the letter and we ask for the, like, number that comes from your institution. And a lot of times people have told us that they have IRB approval or when we say you need IRB approval, well they never produce the letter, and so they never get access, basically, into our system. And that has been very helpful to us. Of these 1,010 requests, we’ve had 675 internal requests, which are basically from our employees or from our students. One of the things that we have to remember, being in the data office, is that our employees, they’re probably students at one of the local universities getting IREs either towards their masters or toward another higher degree, and so they have class projects. We’re more than willing to help, as long as it isn’t taking away from our mission. The one thing that I want to emphasize that’s on this slide is that we really encourage, and by “encourage,” my staff and I, we go to the local universities, we meet with students, we meet with faculty members, and we really encourage this idea of partnerships. We share our research agenda with them. We share our strategic plan. We tell them that the more that they can show that the value of their work is going to help us and our teachers and students, the more likelihood it is we are going to partner with them. And it has been very helpful framing our work in that regard. The other thing is is that I do have an office of people that do research and evaluation. I have six people, but as I said, that one management group said that there were 700 programs in our district; that is a function of something called “site-based decision making.” But basically we do have a research agenda for the six people in my office to do. But there’s plenty of work in terms of using data to basically improve student achievement that can be done in our district. And so we are looking for people to help. So, as I said earlier, we do have a way in which we think that we are protecting our students at a much better way than we did in the old days, by basically asking for the IRB, making them do it. We do have an IRB in our district. If somebody needs approval, we will have our committee meet and look at the work. One of the things that I want to emphasize is is that nobody is exempt from following this protocol. Now I say this wondering what’s going on today, because this past weekend I got an e-mail about a survey that one of our assistant superintendents sent out to principals, asking principals to fill out the survey because this was a wonderful partner in the district. And I asked our people, I said, “Hey, did we get approval for this? Did they get approval for this?” And the answer was, “No.” And so we had to shut it down until we can get approval, okay. And basically the survey really wasn’t about our strategic plan, it was more about the services that our partner was basically providing the district. And once again, it isn’t that we don’t want to help our partners, but our employees only have so many hours with our kids, and we don’t want them to be answering satisfaction surveys about service versus actually working with our kids. Bob, you have about five minutes. Okay, yeah, and I’m almost done, believe it or not. Okay, thank you. We only use our legal tassel in a few situations. The only time that we really use them is when we are working on data-sharing agreements with other institutions or, like, groups, and that has to do with basically getting a memorandum of understanding and it basically has to do with making sure that we know who is responsible for what. I said it measures with IRB things, and it promotes the use of consent forms. Like our system right now, you know, we get into a situation where we can see what the person wants, and then it’s like we think need to get parents’ permission for that particular part of the research, and so it’s been pretty good. Just some of the lessons that we’ve learned, and I’ll go over these quickly. Our goal was to get useful, timely, valid or reliable and ethical research to improve student achievement. The focus needs to be on student achievement, because that’s what school districts are about. We do distinguish between existing data and permission to access new data. We try to encourage using existing data as much as possible so it won’t interrupt what’s going on in schools. We do emphasize the requirements around FERPA, the pupil protection rights, and around the National School Lunch Program. One of the things that we’ve learned is that our people really take to actionable research that’s easily understood, and not theoretical stuff. So the more than a researcher can deal with actionable research and things that can tell us maybe next steps and what to do the better it is. We ask for researchers to basically provide executive summaries to us, and then maybe not the real technical draft that might go to a dissertation committee, but one that we can use on our website that people could answer. Like we call it a “management report.” Timing is important in this. We really see windows of opportunity for when we can use data. As I said, theoretical implications are okay, but practical implications are better. We really try to collaborate with the top authorities from our local universities, like that’s a key. We call up the deans of our universities, ask them if we can talk to graduate students and faculty members and in the various departments. And basically we’ve been able to do it. We have found out that be going this way and having people report back, that we’re becoming less data rich and information poor; that people are actually using data more now in terms of doing things with the data than they have in the past. Once again, we reserve the right to prioritize what we need. I told you about our legal office, and then the last thing, though, is you have to develop true partnerships. And our partnership is basically we’ll give you access but we want you to help us with our work. And so that’s our partnership arrangement. And with that, I think I’m finished, and I am going to — oh, no, I’m sorry, there’s one other thing about the suggestions, okay. I believe you do have to design a workflow for managing data requests. What we’ve done has really helped us, and like I said, we’ve had a thousand requests this year, and it really hasn’t interfered with our work, the way that we’ve developed this. Our prioritization process using the strategic plan has been really helpful. There’s a book out by the joint committee on standards, around program evaluation standards, that highlight utility, feasibility, accuracy, and propriety. It’s a very helpful book. I encourage people to go look at that. And please remember to protect instructional time in our schools, and you can maximize the impact by developing guidelines and reporting processes, and basically following these four practices. Now I think I am finished. And so that’s my contact information. And now I’m going to turn it over to Julie Kochanek from REL Northeast. Thanks, Bob. So I’m here today to talk with you about a suite of schools that we developed in the REL Northeast and Islands with one of our research alliances. We, under this latest duration of the RELs, we are tasked with working with research alliances, plus stakeholders, and in REL Northeast and Islands we have eight research alliances. One of them is the Urban School Improvement Alliance, and it’s an alliance of directors of research and evaluation from nine mid-sized urban districts in our region. And so we worked with these in the first year, which was in 2012, we worked with these nine districts to negotiate long-term research agenda for the alliance. And through a structured workshop process, we created a workshop or a research agenda that centered on proof of data to improve low-performing schools. This alliance had a research agenda with questions, like what data is being used by teachers and administrators, what data is being used in district decision making, and how can we support increased use of data in decision making and practice. And part of that work was to help to provide tools that would work in their offices to align their practices for working with external researchers and bring them to the forefront so that researchers were working on issues that were important to the district rather than important to researchers. So we worked with an advisory committee of alliance members to create this suite of tools. And they were very generous with their time and giving us feedback as we moved forward. So now I’m going to share my screen with you all so that I can take you through the suite of tools. Okay, so what you see here is our website for our REL Northeast and Island. And if you look under “Publications” you will see a link to tools and resources. And currently this is the home for the suite of tools. IES is in the process of publishing these tools and will come out with a formal publication, but right now they’re housed with us. And there is a link here, toolkit for districts working with external researchers. And on this homepage there is a little background about the project, similar to what I just gave you. And then it goes through the different modules. And in the first module we created some documents and processes for developing a district research agenda. And I’ll show you a couple of those. All right, I went through this earlier, so let me go back to the top. So this first document is to work on a research agenda from within the district evaluation or research office itself. So it gives you some process, so there’s a flowchart to do this process. And it gives you some templates for managing the process yourself, including a logic model template and an example, a research agenda template and an example — and the example here is from the urban school improvement alliance — and then the table that we use to look at our research agenda. Here is the empty table and then part of the table from the urban school improvement alliance. A second tool in this module is the workshop toolkit to do this research agenda setting with a formal group. So we use this workshop toolkit within our REL to develop the research agendas with each of our alliances, and it’s something that we envision that districts could use as well, by bringing together people within the district. So it could be within the central office. It could be a broader scope. We could invite people from schools, principals and teachers. We could invite community members or other community service organization to have a day-long or half-day-long session to discuss priorities. And so we started these workshops around a goal and discussing the goal, and we moved from that to discussing priority topic areas, and then brainstorming research questions. And you will see within this workshop toolkit that there is some directions about how to adapt it to your setting. And then there’s a process agenda that aligns to the slide deck that comes along with this toolkit and allows you to facilitate the process yourself. It also has instructions for running the different kinds of exercises that occur within this workshop. And then it has a participant workbook that you can take out of this part of the toolkit and distribute to the participants. So that’s the module on identifying your research priorities. The second module is around setting research requests. So within this module we have an actual application that can be adapted to your district or state. We have a sample research request review worksheet that you can use to vet research requests. And then we have some guidelines to help fill in some of the gaps in the research packet. So I’m going to show you the application packet. And it’s a fairly long document and has different appendices depending on what kind of research request the request is being asked by the researcher. So it also has guidelines and messages to researchers about district policies or state policies. So in this packet there are directions, again, for you to use to tailor this to your use right at the beginning. The next module is about recruiting external researchers. So we heard from some of our alliance members. So if they are inundated with data requests, similar to Bob’s descriptions, but others we heard didn’t have a lot of researchers coming to them, and yet they had a real need to help accomplish research tasks, because they had a very small staff. So we developed some guidance on identifying external researchers, and this guidance includes some information about matching a research project to a research method, and then it has some sources to go looking for researchers who have expertise in a content area or certain methodology or a certain way of working, the general guidance document. In the next module we have some sample MOUs and data agreements that we collected for our members, and we were very up front that we did not do a vetting process of these. We didn’t do any kind of legal analysis of these. They’re just here as a resource for our districts and states to look at. And finally, our last module was around disseminating research results. Our members told us that they had processes within their district to disseminate results. But what they didn’t have expertise in was how to share those results with a wider audience. And so we have, in this packet, some guidance about how to share with different kinds of audiences, and then we also have, in the appendices, some sample briefs, tips on how to do an interview with the media, and then a sample press release, so really thinking more about getting the word out about the research that has been done in the district to a broader audience, and that’s this document. So there you have our suite of tools, and, again, you can go to relne.org to find these resources right now. They’ll be available in the coming months from an IES publication as well. So let me turn it back over to Jane. Great. Thank you so much, Julie, for sharing these valuable online tools that REL Northeast and Island created. And I encourage the participants on today’s webinar to check out the REL NE website and access those tools there. Okay, now we have some time for questions, and I know that when we were looking at Julie’s slides and at her screenshots we weren’t able to access the Q&A field, so if you have any questions to ask to the presenters today, please take a minute and enter those in. I have a question here that can get us started. And this question is for Bob and his presentation about how to implement core practices in an LEA. And this question asks, for you, Bob, “Did you work closely with the IRB to align requirements, where appropriate, to ensure that an application to conduct research within the LEA is approved by both the IRB and the LEA?” We did. In fact, I have a person on my staff, he’s a member that sits on the local university’s IRB, but he also goes to training every year around IRB requirements. And then he’s also the one that chairs the district’s IRB group. Thank you. Okay, I don’t know if I’ve answered the question, but I think it’s, yes, would be the answer. Thanks, Bob. This is another one for you as well. “What do you do with third-party evaluation required by grant-funded programs? Are these treated as internal or external requests? The grant we have requires that we evaluate the program, but the evaluation is done by external agencies.” Okay, well we treat it as an external agency. We also, if it needs IRB approval, we make them have IRB approval, depending upon what the evaluation work is. Okay. Okay. And another one for you, Bob. “For your school district, JCPC, how long does it take to vet and approve/decline an application to conduct research with your LEA?” It takes about one to two weeks. That quick? Yes. We’ve really tried — there’s something about timing and timeliness, okay. And we figure when somebody is requesting it, they’re ready to go. We think that if we feel that they’re going to be a good partner, we want them to get us the data in as expedited good method as possible, and so we want to do that. The biggest problem we run into is what we call the “sensitivity questions around research,” okay, and they might take a little longer. This is where folks start wanting to probe into maybe a little more personal information around, quote, the subjects that they are, like, wanting to address. You know, like they might want to know about certain kind certain kind of behavior things, you know, that might be inappropriate, okay. I’m not saying that it’s all. But they might want to know about, oh, you know, like we’ll call, like, risky behaviors around things that might be interesting, but, you know, I’m not sure it’s in the mission of our district. So they might want to know about people’s religion or about sexual behavior or personal politics or, you know, just personal things, and that’s where we really have to sort of make sure that we understand why they want this information, how does that relate to the overall benefit of our district. So, as a follow up to that, Bob, if you have just a one-to-two-week turnover for, say, a study proposal that does not ask or want to collect this sensitive information, about how many people are actively working on processing these requests? I have five people that basically look at these requests, and then if it becomes one of those that is a gray area, they may kick it, quote, upstairs to me. Right. Okay. But there are five people. There is one person that’s our IRB chair, and then we have — in our district, we have folks called “data management research technicians,” and they work with the IRB chair in terms of knowing what we’re looking for. Great. And so yet another question for you, Bob. “Can LEAs choose to share whatever they want or nothing at all? Could a researcher compel a district to share? If so, what might be the limits of such compulsion?” Well, okay, there is this thing under the open records law. So a researcher could come in on data already collected and basically ask for information; okay. We’ve been trying to be as transparent as possible to allow that to happen to where it is. It is where — but if somebody comes in to try to use the open records law and wants to see the records of a certain kid, then that’s probably out of bounds, you know. And that’s where we would go to the legal office. And so it depends on the question. We haven’t had that situation that I can remember. I know that folks, they may ask for data that’s on, quote, individual students but they want to aggregate it upwards. Basically what they want is a data file. And so what we’ll do is we’ll give them an anonymous data file, where we will create our own student numbers for each individual student. And these are just random numbers that we generate for the record and then we keep a copy of the file, and then we’ll send that file to the researchers, and then the researcher can basically do their work, and that way we’re protecting the anonymity of our students. Great. So one last question here for you, Bob. “What are an LEA’s obligation to review research requests? As a government agency, are we required to consider applications? If so, are there any other requirements we have to abide by?” Okay, well I’ve been doing this for 30-some years. I’ve never felt that this has been a requirement. I have always felt that this has been an opportunity for me to get extra help, okay. So it’s a plus. I think that we could just say, no, we don’t want to do it. And I think that if you are a smaller school district, let’s say that you’re, you know, one elementary, one middle school, one high school, or like an elementary secondary school, and we have a lot of those. Like in Kentucky, I’m sure that those districts would just say, “Hey, let’s pass on it.” I know that I’ve had conversations with researchers in the past where we just couldn’t come to a sort of a meeting of the minds as to what could help us and also be in their area of interest, and I said, “Well, there’s 173 other districts in Kentucky, and you’re more than welcome to ask them to basically to research.” Right. So it isn’t that we’re obligated. I look at it as a chance to partner and to really help the research agenda that we have in this district. Thanks, Bob. And so that’s where we’re at. Great. And, Christina, I want to ask if you had insight on that as well, as a chair of this forum guide working group, the question about are LEAs obligated to review research requests? Are they required to consider applications? My understanding is similar to Bob, in that it’s not a requirement. Aside from whatever federal privacy — or excuse me, open data laws and state data laws, a request for research where individuals are coming into the LEA is not a requirement for use. However, a school district itself may have board policies that dictate what is allowable or what the review process might be. Right. And then a question for you, Christina, that’s come up, as Hawaii is in process of changing from HSA to Smarter Balance test to align with Common Core, will information about comparability across time be included in a data dictionary or another resource? We do anticipate to have information about comparability available. Whether it will be in a data dictionary or what form, I can’t say at this time, but we do anticipate that we will have information available. Great. Thanks. I have just one last question. This one is for Julie. And if there are additional questions, that once we close out of the webinar and you think, “oh, I wish I had asked that,” please feel free to e-mail any of the presenters or myself, and we will be happy to respond to you. So Julie, this is for you. “What aspects of data management system do districts in the NE alliance struggle most with implementing?” Our alliance members talk most often about having constraints on their time due to accountability reporting and conducting and running the assessment system. And so the staffing that they do have are almost all taken up to meeting these demands, and they have a harder time moving towards the research agenda that they are accumulating and they brought to us actual screen shots or whiteboards where they had their research agendas scribbled out, but with all sorts of questions that were of interest to them. So this was a way — and on top of that, they expressed their frustration with the number of research requests that they were getting in that really weren’t feeding anything back into the system. So our suite of schools, we saw as a way to help align their interests with their processes so that they could be more directive with research requests and the kinds of things that they would feel were useful to the district and feeding that information back into the district, as Bob said, to have that reporting come back into the district so it really serves a purpose with their help. Thanks, Julie. So I want to thank the presenters, Christina, Bob, and Julie, for the great presentations they gave today on this topic. And also, I want to thank you the listeners for your thoughtful questions and for participating the webinar. We’re going to wrap up today’s webinar now and leave you some time at the end to fill out the stakeholder feedback survey. Again, this is to give us feedback on how well we did on our presentation, and if it was relevant to you, suggestions for improvement, we really do want to hear from you. The link on the slide you’re seeing is not active. But an active link is being sent out into the chat box, so you can click on the link there to access it. And also, once you close out of the WebEx program you will be automatically redirected to the survey form, so please take a few minutes to fill that out. We’d readily appreciate it, and thanks again for participating. Have a great afternoon. (end)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *