Research: Legal Requirements
The Columbia Public Schools has established requirements for requesters applying for authorization to conduct research and/or to receive data CPS has deemed confidential, personal, and private, and to ensure compliance with Federal and Missouri laws and regulations and CPS policies.
There are both legal and ethical reasons behind the District's efforts to establish requirements to control and monitor research in the schools.
- The legal background stems from provisions of The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) that affords parents and students certain rights regarding student records, the administration of surveys, and the collection and use of personal information. (Statute: 20 U.S.C. 1232g. Regulations: 34 CFR, Part 99).
- Additional legal background stems from the provisions of the Federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) (20 U.S.C. § 123h; 34 CRF Part 98). CPS follows PPRA adherence to specific standards when a survey, analysis, or evaluation is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.
- Confidential Data are:
- Any student records which contain Personally Identifiable Information, as that term is defined by 34 CFR 99.3 of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act;
- Any employment records which contain individual level data (i.e. information about individual employees); and
- Aggregate data constructed from students or employment records comprising a group size of fewer than ten individuals.
- CPS District Policy LC, Relations with Educational Research Agencies, states that the superintendent is authorized to cooperate as far as possible with colleges, universities and other recognized research agencies in promoting potentially useful research. Because of the large number of requests for studies in the Columbia Public School District, it is necessary to limit the number and establish guidelines for the approval of studies. A committee will be established to consider requests to conduct research. (See also Board Policies: IICC: School Volunteers, KK: Visitors to District Property/Events, GBEBC: Criminal Background Checks)
- Columbia Public Schools requires that research be well designed, adhere to child protection laws, not place unreasonable demands on students, staff, or parents nor interfere with regular system operations, and it must be in the interests of the school system to participate. Research should support CPS goals. See also: CPS Comprehensive School Improvement Plan (CSIP)
- Unsolicited research proposals from individuals or organizations independent of the Columbia Public Schools must be affiliated with an organization that has an Institutional Review Board (IRB). IRB approval is required before research proposals can be accepted.
- Decisions in connection with research involving parents, students or staff members will be influenced by the following factors:
- The objectives of the research should be clearly stated, and the design should produce valid and reliable results which will be made available to the Columbia Public School District.
- The research should be expected to contribute to the welfare of children and align with the District's Comprehensive School Improvement Plan.
- Personally identifiable student records will be made available only with the consent of parents. Statistical information connected to no individual names may be released.
- Research proposals should be of sufficient scope and depth to justify the time and effort of students and staff members.
- In general, instructional activities will not be interrupted unless there is a clear significance for the educational program of the Columbia schools.
- Projects involving university student researchers must have prior written approval by the appropriate faculty member of the institution in which the student is enrolled. This faculty member must have direct responsibility related to the student's research.
- In addition to obtaining consent/assent for participation, parents must sign a Parent Release of Data for Research in the Columbia Public Schools if the research requires access to individually identifiable data.
- A Statement of Nondisclosure for Columbia Public Schools Educational Data is also required.
- To ensure student safety, individuals who want to observe, volunteer, or work in our schools in any capacity must submit to a criminal background check through the district's non-employee background check process administered through the district's Human Resources Department. CPS will NOT accept background check documentation from other institutions/individuals. Contact Shari Kraus, email@example.com or 573-214-3413.
- Establish a single contact point for all research and data requests. Requesters may not request permission to conduct research directly from schools or departments. All research requests must be submitted via the Request for Research Application. Questions regarding the application process can be directed to Shari Kraus, Executive Assistant to the Chief Equity Officer.
- CPS employees seeking data and/or conducting research for graduate work or submitting such work to a university or outside agency must submit a proposal in accordance with this document. The collection of data by CPS employees for in-school instructional or school improvement purposes is exempt.