Conducting Research in the Dallas Independent School District
The Dallas ISD supports high quality research that addresses well-formed research questions of educational importance. At the same time, the district has moral and legal obligations that require oversight of research activities that make use of district resources such as data, facilities, employee time, or access to students.
In order to conduct research in the Dallas ISD, a proposal must be submitted to and reviewed by the district's Research Review Board (RRB). The RRB is housed within the Department of Evaluation & Assessment, and draws on the expertise of district researchers and program evaluators, as well as the professional knowledge of staff from the departments of Teaching and Learning, Student Services, School Leadership, and Legal Services, among others.
External research proposals must demonstrate clear and direct educational value to the district and not just to the profession of education in general, be minimally disruptive to the educational process, manifest a sound research methodology, and comply with current privacy laws. The potential direct benefit to Dallas ISD must outweigh demands on district resources, particularly on staff and student time. Dallas ISD strongly encourages and gives priority to external research projects that contribute to or complement the district's research agenda and strategic plan.
If you are planning a research study or evaluation that will use secondary data, you must complete a Data Sharing Agreement (DSA) after your research proposal is approved by the Dallas ISD RRB. School or network staff cannot provide data to external researchers. Researchers need to request a DSA template after the RRB has approved their research proposal.
We strongly encourage researchers to first explore the school-level data already publicly available. Researchers wishing to use publicly available data do not need to submit a research application to the district.
For additional information, contact:
Larry Featherston, Ph.D.
Chair, Dallas ISD Research Review Board
Due to the COVID-19 emergency, active data collection associated with external research is currently paused as campuses are closed for an indefinite amount of time.
Capacity to participate in research activities will also be limited when students and staff return to campus locations at a future date. Concerns include in-person and virtual safety as well as atypical contexts affecting data collection and research validity. We have created a continuity plan which will impact current research as well as new research planned for the 2020-2021 school year. This will allow campuses flexibility to return to normal working conditions while also providing opportunities for those interested in conducting research within Dallas ISD. Please read below for information on new applications, currently approved projects, and specifics for Dallas ISD community partners with approved research/evaluation projects.
Please note, dates and application requirements have been modified for the 2020-2021 school year.
August through January Deadlines
The August through January application deadlines have been changed into a data only request. Researchers should prioritize projects that may be accomplished with data collected at the district level. Applications requesting active data collection will not be accepted (e.g., surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, etc.). We understand that this may limit some projects and/or require study plans to be reconfigured.
We will accept applications requesting secondary analysis of student, staff, and/or campus data. Available data include information collected for state/federal reporting requirements as well as unique information collected by Dallas ISD. Researchers may visit TEA for more information on accountability and other statewide reporting requirements. Researchers may also look at interactive reports and publications found on the Dallas ISD website; these examples should provide information on types of data available. Those interested in requesting data should complete an application and may contact Dr. Larry Featherston at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions on specifics (e.g., data types and/or application details).
January 2021 Deadline
The January application deadline is tentatively scheduled to be open to all projects. This will include both data requests as well as proposals including active data collection. Projects with active data collection should have a start date of fall 2021 or later (i.e., data collection by means of surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, etc. will not resume until the 2021-2022 school year). Proposals will be approved in spring 2021 allowing researchers time to plan and gain site approval; this should make it easier to begin studies as soon as school starts in the fall.
Note on Pending Applications
There are a number of applications which are considered pending; these include proposals submitted prior to this notification but not yet approved by Dallas ISD. Please contact the RRB as soon as possible if you not heard from us. We have additional information and options available. For 2020-2021 applicants (i.e., those who submitted early for the August deadline), we will refund application fees or allow applicants to submit alternative proposals. These may include data requests only, alternative start times, etc.
Projects approved before August 1st, 2020 (i.e., a dated and signed approval letter from RRB) may continue virtual research activities, when campuses resume classes. All in-person data collection is suspended for the 2020-21 school year. Projects must follow design and data collection methods as approved in the initial application as long as they can be adapted to the virtual setting. As always, principal approval must be obtained annually, using the Principal Permission/Intent to Participate form. Researchers should gain site approval and collect signatures, then return forms to the RRB via email.
Consent and assent forms should be updated to reflect virtual data collection and should include language addressing the restrictions and considerations below.
To ensure the online safety of our students, virtual student interviews and focus groups:
- MUST have at least two adults present that are at least 18 years or older,
- SHOULD be conducted when a parent or adult is present in the household (but the parent or adult does not have to be on the call),
- MUST be conducted after normal school hours (i.e. after 4 pm CST) and before 7 pm CST on weekdays, SHOULD last no longer than 45 minutes to an hour if being conducted during the week,
- MUST be conducted using a secured connection and password protected meeting (i.e. most virtual conferencing systems allow for password enabled virtual conference calls),
- Connection URL and password must NOT be posted publicly, and
- Recordings MUST be made available for safety compliance audits by Larry Featherston, Ph.D., Dallas ISD Research Review Board Chair.]
Researchers may request a change to an approved project through the Modification Request form. All adaptions and changes to an approved research project require submission of a Modification Request. Changes may include: time, logistics, location(s), sampling/participants, methods, protocols, and/or updated consent/assent forms. Please make sure to outline all requested changes and reason(s) for the request. Once the form is received, the request will be evaluated and approved according to fit with intended scope of the original, approved project as well as current Dallas ISD capacity.
Many researchers will be working to submit progress reporting or amendments to funders, institutions, etc. We are able to aid researchers of approved projects with documentation and other help they may need in relation to studies. Researchers should contact Dr. Larry Featherston with questions on approved projects. Remember to use the Dallas ISD research number on all communication.
Dallas ISD Approved Community Partners
For Dallas ISD approved community partners who wish to evaluate their programs, we offer a variety of plans for data and analysis. Partners may submit evaluation plans using the RRB application process.
While the COVID-19 emergency persists, the focus is on helping Dallas ISD partners connect with families to offer emergency services and resources. We are working with the Teaching and Learning Department, Office of Transformation and Innovation (OTI), and Volunteer and Partnership Services department to help ensure partners have what they need—now and in the future—to help serve students and families. Where possible, some approved partners are also helping to offer continuous learning options. Approved partners may contact Dr. Larry Featherston for information on alternative permission logistics to help evaluate continuous learning efforts.
We will also continue to help serve Dallas ISD approved partners once students return to campuses. Partners may continue their evaluations as long as they abide by all previously mentioned restrictions. Partners may modify their evaluations using the Modification Request form. Contact Dr. Larry Featherston with questions on current evaluation projects, modifications, and/or new projects. We will also help answer questions on connected research as many partners are approached independently for research access.
NOTICE: [Effective June 1, 2019: Graduate research – The district will NOT be accepting non-employee graduate research request. The district is committed to supporting our employees and due to the high demand of employee graduate research requests, the district does not have the capacity to support non-employee graduate research at this time.]
The Research Review Board meets monthly to review proposals. Researchers should submit their proposal at least 60 days in advance of the date they plan to begin research activities.
2020-2021 RRB Calendar Submission Deadline Start of Review Cycle August 12, 2020 August 26, 2020 September 9, 2020 September 23, 2020 November 11, 2020 November 18, 2020 January 13, 2021 January 27, 2021 March 10, 2021 March 24, 2021 May 12, 2021 May 26, 2021 July 14, 2021 July 28, 2021
- Applications for research proposals requiring primary data collection involving students for the 2020-21 school year must be submitted on or before a blue date. Primary data collection proposals involving students submitted on a green date will only be accepted for the 2021-22 school year.
- Complete proposal, including the application fee (money order or cashier's check), must be received by 12 noon on the deadline date. Proposals sent on the deadline date and received the next week will be reviewed during the next cycle.
- Allow one full review cycle for board decision.
- Deadlines are firm – there are no exceptions.
- All efforts will be made to adhere to these time frames for review. However, this schedule is subject to change at any time due to overriding district priorities.