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 I want to conduct research within the district with either employees or students. What do I do?

Lexington County School District One encourages research to improve day-to-day educational practices or to contribute to the body of research for the field of education.

As the article titled “Action Research in Education: Addressing Gaps in Ethical Principles and Practices” by Amanda L. Nolen and Jim Vander Putten, which appeared in Educational Researcher, 36(7), pp. 401–407 in 2007, states, “When discussing action research, one must distinguish between joint projects, conducted by a school and an academic researcher, and truly indigenous, insider projects, conducted by a teacher or administrator within a school.”

Therefore, teachers may gather and analyze data at any time if the data are being used solely for the improvement of their own professional practice and if the collection of such data would be part of ordinary instructional procedures for their own students. Any research that goes beyond individual use that is exclusively for improvement of professional practice requires district approval.

In addition, Lexington County School District One accommodates researchers from outside the district whenever their proposals meet district criteria. The district requires that educational research projects conform to ethical standards. Therefore, the district requires researchers, including its own employees, to obtain written parent and/or student permission when using student data and/or work samples in class presentations, academic papers, conference presentations, publications and similar activities.

Approval Criteria

All research conducted in the district must meet the criteria set forth in Board Policy IGB Curriculum Research, as follows:

  • The research is of value to the district.
  • The research does not interfere with the educational programs of the district.
  • The research respects the privacy, informed consent and due process rights of students and employees.
  • The researcher agrees to provide the district with a copy of the completed research.

These procedures and criteria are in place to protect students and employees of the district. While the district welcomes research studies, it is important to note that failure to adhere to district policy and procedures will result in denial of the proposal.

Ethical Responsibility

Lexington County School District One expects college and university faculty members to work with their students to develop, review, edit and obtain institutional approval of proposals before they are submitted to the district for review. Researchers who are submitting proposals to meet requirements for a degree program at a college or university must submit documentation that their proposals have been reviewed by the institutional review board (IRB) of the college or university and either approved or granted exempt status by the IRB.

The American Educational Research Association is adopting a revised Code of Ethics in 2011.

The revised Code of Ethics reminds researchers that informed consent has long been a basic ethical tenet of scientific research on human subjects and, further, that “waivers of consent require the approval of institutional review boards or, in the absence of such boards, from another authoritative body with expertise on the ethics of research before proceeding with such research.” The granting of exempt status by an institutional review board does not necessarily relieve the researcher of the ethical responsibility to obtain informed consent from participants.

 

Procedures for Submission

If the findings of research projects are to be published or presented outside of the researcher’s school or district (e.g., in papers required for coursework, graduate classes, conference presentations, dissertations, journal articles), research must be approved through the district’s approval process.

Lexington County School District One also offers the option of applying via an expedited review process, which is limited to employees of the district who are conducting action research projects under the supervision of colleges or universities with which the district has a cooperative agreement. The expedited review process is explained in the last section of this document.

Individuals should submit proposals that do not qualify for the expedited process directly to the district’s Research Committee according to the following guidelines:

  • Proposals should be sent via a single email with all required documents as attachments to research@lexington1.net.
  • It is important that all applications be complete. Incomplete proposals may be rejected without review. Each proposal must include:
    • Institutional review board (IRB) approval/exemption and a letter of support from the advisor or sponsor (if the proposal is associated with a college or university course or degree program) or authorization for the study (if it is associated with a government or private agency)
    • Rationale for the study
    • Data collection and analysis methodology
    • For all research instruments that are not part of the district’s existing assessment program, submit either:
      • copies of the instruments; or
      • thorough documentation with citations from recognized sources.
    • Copies of informed consent forms that comply with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) guidelines. (See http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html and http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ppra/index.html.)
    • Draft copies of any forms, letters and other documents that will be provided to participants or their parents/guardians

Review Process for Proposals

Lexington County School District One has a Research Committee that serves as its screening committee to determine whether proposals meet district criteria. If a proposal is recommended by the Research Committee, it can still be denied at the next level of approval, which is the Senior Leadership Team, or by the principal of any school whose teachers or students are asked to participate.

The research review and documentation process is described in board administrative rule IGB-R, as follows:

  • All requests to conduct research will be submitted to the Lexington County School District One Research Committee for review and determination of recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team for approval. It is not unusual for a request to be denied.
  • Approval by the Senior Leadership Team does not guarantee that the research will be permitted within a particular school.
  • If the Senior Leadership Team approves the proposal, the researcher must then seek approval from the principal(s) of the school(s) where the research is to be conducted.
  • Participation of teachers and students is voluntary.
  • If students or their records are involved in the research, the researcher must obtain prior written permission from parents/legal guardians in a manner approved by the district.
  • The Research Committee will meet at the beginning of each month from August through April to approve proposals. Submissions that are not received in time for consideration at one meeting will be held for consideration at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Research Committee.
  • Proposals that are received between August and April 1 generally require three to six weeks for processing.
  • Submissions that are received after the regularly scheduled April meeting will not be reviewed until the following August.
  • The Research Committee reviews requests that are received and makes a recommendation to Senior Leadership level for approval.
  • Upon conclusion of the research, the researcher must forward a copy of the completed study to the district via email to research@lexington1.net.
  • The district reserves the right to use research findings for programmatic revision/decision making, as appropriate. The researcher will receive appropriate acknowledgment when his/her findings are used or cited.

 

 

Optional Expedited Process: Limited to Action Research Projects from Employees of Lexington County School District One Who Apply through Institutions with Whom the District Has Cooperative Agreements. Note: This process does not apply to dissertation research. All dissertation/doctoral thesis research must be submitted via the normal review process.

This process may be used only by proposers who meet all of the following criteria:

  • The proposer is currently employed by Lexington County School District One.
  • The proposal is limited to a request to conduct action research directly related to the proposer’s employment setting.
  • The proposer is under the supervision of a college or university program with which the district has a cooperative agreement.
  • This action research project is a course requirement for a semester-long course. (Dissertation preparation hours are not considered a course for this process.)

 

  1. To qualify for the expedited process, action research proposals must be submitted by the professor of record for the class or cohort group. Prior to submission, the professor of record is responsible for determining that the proposals meet the standards of the college or university with which the district has a cooperative agreement. The professor of record must complete an application form certifying that each action research project is limited to students in the proposer’s work setting and that each proposal is adequate to meet the academic standards of the college or university. The submission form can be found here.

  2. The district requires each proposer to obtain appropriate informed consent from students and/or their parents or guardians, by using the informed consent form found at this link or by using an alternate form that has been approved by the Research Committee.

Informing researchers of the ethical and legal requirements for obtaining informed consent of participants in action research is the responsibility of the cooperating college or university.

District board policy IGB, Administrative Rule IGB-R regarding research says, “If students or their records are involved in the research, the researcher must obtain prior written permission from parents/legal guardians in a manner approved by the district.”

Strict confidentiality of all student information must be maintained even when publication is limited to presentations in the class for which the research was required. Teachers should be aware that presenting results for individual students or for very small groups of students who have identifiable common characteristics could risk breaching the confidentiality of student information, even if the student’s name is not divulged.

We have no adequate way of determining whether all teachers who are enrolled in any graduate program have secured appropriate parental permissions. The district must rely on the integrity of our staff and their knowledge of professional ethics for protecting confidentiality and seeking appropriate permissions.

  1. The researcher and the professor of record must obtain Research Committee approval for any data collection instrument (e.g., survey form, interview protocol, rating scale, behavior checklist, published test) that is not routinely used in the district. Either (1) a copy of the instrument, which cannot be edited further after final approval, or (2) a thorough description of the instrument and its technical characteristics with appropriate citations from the professional literature (e.g., Buros Institute of Mental Measurements) can be used to meet this requirement. Classroom tests or assigned work that would ordinarily be required as part of instruction do not require Research Committee approval.

The Research Committee will review data collection instruments submitted via the expedited process at its regularly scheduled meetings. As with all other submissions, documents submitted after a deadline will be considered at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Research Committee

  1. If conditions 1, 2 and 3 have been met, approval by the Senior Leadership Team is granted automatically; however, the school principal retains the right to deny permission for any research project.

Upon conclusion of the research, the professor of record will forward electronic copies of all of the studies under supervision to the district via the following email address: research@lexington1.net.

The district reserves the right to use research findings for programmatic revision/decision making, as appropriate. The researcher will receive appropriate acknowledgment when his/her findings are used or cited.

 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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