Sample School District Regulations: Student Subjects
The following pages are an example of school district regulations regarding research being done in the public school setting, particularly research that involves the use of student subjects. These regulations are for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District (FNSBSD). For the FNSBSD, IRB approval of the project is required before the application can be submitted to the school district. However, it can be helpful for the student researcher to contact the appropriate school district office in the early stages of planning the project, to make sure that the idea is one that will be acceptable and to get the necessary application forms.
Students from other school districts should check their district’s policies to find out what regulations will apply to them.
1250 External Educational Research in the Schools
This regulation defines a screening procedure for external educational research projects conducted in the district’s schools. This regulation will define the types of research that are covered by the policy, the procedures for screening the research requests, and how approvals will be obtained.
Procedures and Responsibilities
External educational research is defined as any data collection activity which seeks to obtain information on students, staff, or parents which is initiated by persons not employed by the school district or by district staff who are performing research for non-job-related purposes. Research activities under these regulations include (but are not limited to) opinion polls, response questionnaires, personal interviews, or any approaches to students, staff, or parents. District staff who are conducting research in conformance with their normal duties and responsibilities are exempted from this screening process. Any research project that is not part of a staff member’s normal duties and responsibilities must be screened in accordance with the following procedure.
Research projects which do not propose new data collection activities and seek only to obtain access to directory information, can receive approval to access the directory information in accordance with policy 1080.1 - Directory Information. Projects which seek access to student records not covered in policy 1080.1 must be screened in accordance with the following procedures.
The following types of research projects are also exempted from this policy:
Principals wishing to conduct surveys in their own schools for internal use only.
- Principals, other administrative staff, or parent/school organizations wishing to conduct parent or community surveys within their own programs. Copies of such surveys should be forwarded to the Director of Program Planning and Evaluation for informational purposes.
- Teachers wishing to conduct research studies in their own classrooms for self-improvement or better understanding of teaching. Teachers who are conducting research as part of the requirements of a college course are required to have their project screened by the following procedure.
The Screening Process
Any individual wishing to conduct any research activity in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District must submit to the Program Planning and Evaluation Department four (4) typed copies of the following:
- An application form with all items completed.
- Copies of all questionnaires, forms, tests, and other instruments and communications that would be part of the proposed study.
- Any supplementary material that is appropriate.
Application forms will be available in the Program Planning and Evaluation office located at 520 Fifth Avenue in Fairbanks.
The following considerations apply to all research studies conducted in the schools:
- No test, questionnaire, or survey containing any questions about a student’s personal beliefs or practices concerning sex, family life, morality or religion, or any questions about his/her parent’s or guardian’s beliefs or practices in the same shall be administered to any student in the public schools of the Fairbanks North Star Borough unless the parent or guardian gives written permission for the student to complete such test, questionnaire, or survey. A list of participating students and a file of signed parent permission forms must be received by the Program Planning and Evaluation department before the study may begin.
- Parent information sheets and permission forms shall be written in the language of the person to whom they are addressed.
- In compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, adequate safeguards must be taken to ensure that no personal rights of students will be violated in any way as a result of research or the publication of its findings. Access to personal information regarding students shall only occur with consent of students’ families; access to directory information shall only occur consistent with federally-mandated and district policies and procedures. Similar precautions will protect the rights of district staff.
- All representations made to participants respecting anonymity, confidentiality, purpose, and procedures must be honored by the researcher.
- Research proposals which show promise of direct benefit and little inconvenience to the district have a greater chance of being approved.
- Data collected may be used only for the purposes of the study approved.
- If the applicant is affiliated with an institution where specific approval for research with human subjects must be obtained, a copy of such approval must be received by the Program Planning and Evaluation department before final district approval will be granted.
- Because of the length of time involved in processing research applications, researchers who are Ph.D. or Master’s candidates may submit applications prior to the approval of their prospectus with the understanding that final district approval may be withheld pending Human Subjects Review committee approval.
- To avoid undue inconvenience to building personnel and students, no research activities will be allowed in the schools:
- during the two weeks after the opening of school or during the two weeks prior to the closing of school,
- one week before and one week after the winter and spring vacation periods,
- during the first week of the second semester,
- where there are already a number of research projects underway,
- where a number of research projects have already been conducted.
- No research applications will be accepted after the second week of the fourth quarter of the current school year.
- All research applications must be signed by the principal investigator and the person ultimately responsible for the study (e.g. supervisor, agency head, or professor).
Approvals and Notifications
The Program Planning and Evaluation Director will review the applications and submit the proposed study for review by at least three district staff members that will be affected by the proposed study. The application and recommendations will then be submitted to the Superintendent (or designee) for a final decision. This process will take approximately three weeks to complete.
When a decision has been reached, notification will be sent to the researcher. Three decisions are possible:
- Approval. If the study is approved, the Program Planning and Evaluation department will notify building principals or program administrators in those schools or programs where the study is proposed.
- Approval with Modifications. If the study is approved with modifications, the researcher must provide a written response indicating compliance with the modifications before final approval is granted.
The researcher will contact the appropriate principals or program administrators to complete arrangements for conducting the study. All principals and program administrators may refuse to allow research to be conducted in their school or program except for those studies mandated by the School Board, or the Superintendent.
The researcher will supply the Program Planning and Evaluation department with one copy of the final report, and an executive summary or abstract. The executive summary will be forwarded to the affected staff, the Superintendent, and the School Board by the Director of Program Planning and Evaluation, and the final report will be available for review by any interested party.
Approved: May 11, 1987