• Overview

    The mission of the Boston Public Schools’ Office of Data and Accountability is to serve the BPS community by facilitating access to quality information and building capacity to make data-driven decisions that advance educational equity, opportunity, and achievement for all students. Research is one way to facilitate our community’s access to quality information. It is the responsibility of the Office of Data and Accountability to ensure that  researchers have access to quality data and are able to responsibly interpret the results. As such, the Office of Data and Accountability reviews and approves research that works to advance educational equity, opportunity, and achievement for all students by ensuring responsible access to and use of quality data.

    All research activities must be coordinated through the Office of Data and Accountability’s BPS Research Team. ODA approval is not required for research that uses data that is publicly available sources such as on the BPS public website. A list of current sources of publically available data can be found here. In these instances, the researcher may use the data presented from these sources as long as the sources are cited and any modifications or analysis done by the researcher are clearly delineated. Approval by the researcher’s IRB and/or BPS school leaders does NOT guarantee approval of research proposals by the BPS Office of Data and Accountability (ODA). While research may be approved by ODA, BPS building administrators have the final say in whether or not their particular school will participate in any given study.

    Who May Conduct Research

    Academic or professional organizations or individuals completing a doctoral dissertation may submit a proposal to conduct research in the BPS. Doctoral candidates must submit written evidence that their proposed research has been approved by their University’s IRB and will be supervised by their advisor(s).

    What is the Purpose of the Research Team Review?

    While it is necessary for all research submissions to have an approved/exempted IRB decision from their own institution, BPS requires that all research is submitted to the BPS Research Team for review prior to BPS approval. The BPS research review is not duplicative of the IRB process and aims to ensure the following:

    • The research is aligned with district priorities;
    • The research follows federal and local guidelines regarding conducting research with human subjects in school settings (This includes consent forms for all research participants; assurance that student participantss receive no incentives of monetary value and incentives for teachers do not exceed $50; and voluntary participation for all research subjects);
    • The research is not overly burdensome to classrooms and is new research that will advance the aims of the district; and
    • The research is fully supported by an internal BPS staff member (district sponsor) who is committed to using the results of the research

    What Are The Steps to Conducting Research in the BPS?

    1. Submit a research proposal adhering to the Guidelines and Procedures. In general, the research submission and review calendar is as follows: 

      Review Period

      Submission Month

      Review Month

      Decision Letter Sent

      P1

      June 1-30

      July 1-31

      Mid-August

      P2

      October 1-31

      November 1-30

      Mid-December

      P3

      February 1-28

      March 1-31

      Mid-April

    2. For primary research (i.e. interviewing, focus groups, observations, and in-person surveys), each researcher needs to have submitted and passed a CORI check.
    3. For secondary research (i.e. requesting administrative data: records that are maintained by the school district), researchers need to submit a data request and sign a standard NDA template. NOTE: for some administrative data requests, a fee will be assessed to assist in the fulfillment of the data pull. 
    4. Submit policy brief updates twice annually to your district sponsor and the Research Team (research@bostonpublicschools.org).
    5. Annually renew your research proposal with the BPS research team. 
      1. For continuing research, the following need to be submitted:
        1. Cover page describing research activities already conducted and proposed changes to the study for the next year
        2. Most recent policy brief describing interim findings
        3. Updated district sponsor letter
        4. Updated IRB approval for next year of research