All research conducted within the district that is not specifically carried out by district employees as part of their duties and that is not directed by district contract or by district initiative requires advance approval from the district's Research Proposal Review Panel (RPRP). This includes research by district employees or students outside the district seeking an advanced degree and research by outside professionals or agencies. The RPRP is chaired by the director of the Office of Research and Development and is administered through the department.
Steps for obtaining such approval, whether for research at a single school or for research at multiple sites or in central offices, are outlined in district Procedure 4930 and must be followed by district administrators and by potential researchers.
Researchers whose projects are approved by the RPRP are expected to pay for the cost of providing district data requested for research purposes and to pay for all other costs associated with the implementation of research activities.
Research not approved by the RPRP, not authorized as part of a grant or evaluation, or not otherwise authorized by an appropriate district official may not be conducted in the district. See the current list of approved research projects.
Research in Multiple Schools
The following guidelines are directed to persons requesting permission to conduct research involving multiple schools within the San Diego Unified School District.
The district approves a limited number of studies annually. Stringent qualifying criteria have been set regarding eligibility to conduct research, the quality of the research proposal, the importance of the study topics to the district, how much time is required of students and/or staff, and in what schools the studies may take place.
Two broad categories of persons are eligible to conduct research studies: graduate students and persons already holding an earned doctorate or representing a research agency.
Researchers are subject to the following requirements:
- The study must be the master's thesis or doctoral dissertation, or the particular university's equivalent of these major research undertakings (graduate students only).
- The school district division/department head most closely associated with the topical area of research must endorse and sponsor the proposed study. This endorsement and sponsorship must be obtained prior to submission of application materials.
- Endorsement is provision of a strong written statement of support for the proposed study, certifying that:
- The study provides information the division/department vitally needs and actively seeks, and
- In the endorser's opinion, the applicant possesses the requisite skills and resources to carry the study through successfully.
- Sponsorship includes:
- Attending the review of the proposal by district staff;
- Drafting a binding Memorandum of Agreement upon approval of the research project, spelling out the respective responsibilities of the district, the sponsor, and the researchers;
- Providing necessary help and guidance to the researcher following approval of the research; and
- Ensuring that research is done as proposed.
- The study's methodology shall minimize demands on students and/or staff.
- Schools targeted for study shall not be heavily committed in other research studies and/or in special efforts to correct students' achievement deficit.
- Data-collection activities in schools must take into account schools' primary instructional mission and conflicting demands upon schools that may arise at certain times of the year (e.g., state-mandated testing).
These guidelines supplement Procedure 4930, which provides additional information regarding district policies, limitations on research topics, applicant responsibilities, and other provisions.
A panel of central office staff will review and decide once a month on those written proposals and endorsements received in the Office of Research and Development at least two weeks prior to the meeting date. In most instances, applicants will be expected to present their projects orally to the panel (a 5-10 minute presentation) and respond to questions at the review sessions. The Office of Research and Development will inform each applicant whether s/he will be called upon for such a presentation. Each person submitting a proposal should be prepared to reserve 3-5 p.m. on the review date set for discussing his or her project with the review panel.
Before work in the district on an approved research project may commence, a Memorandum of Agreement must be completed and signed by the applicant, the district sponsor, and the Research Proposal Review Panel chairperson.
Research Proposal Review Panel
Meeting Schedule: 2016-17
|September 26||February 27|
|October 24||March 27|
|November 28||April 24|
|December 12||May 22|
|January 23||June 26|
Research in a Single School
Official district approval is also required of requests to conduct research in a single district school. However, the approval process is simpler and more informal than for multi-school research. Students and professional researchers considering research in a single school should first contact the principal of the school, present and discuss the proposed research with the principal, and obtain preliminary approval from the principal.
Following such preliminary approval, the researcher should submit application forms, a brief description of the proposed research and any proposed survey, interview, questionnaire, or other protocols or research instruments to the Office of Research and Development, along with any proposed parent or student permission forms. If there appears to be no significant problem or difficulty with the proposed study based on the submitted materials and research description, the Office of Research and Development will notify the principal of that fact.
The final decision to approve the study is the principal's.
Action Research Exception. A different process applies for “action research” done by student teachers in a classroom with a supervising teacher who has completed district training, under the auspices of a university-run teacher preparation or education program with current student teaching partnership agreements between the district and local universities. In such cases, the student teacher should first discuss a possible action research plan with the trained supervising teacher; after agreeing on the action research plan, the student teacher and supervising teacher should present the plan to the principal or the principal’s designee for consideration or approval.
Application Packets and Information
- Application Packet, Students for Advanced Degrees -- Multiple Schools
- Application Packet, Students for Advanced Degrees -- Single School
- Application Packet, Nondistrict Agencies and Professional Researcher -- Multiple Schools
- Application Packet, Nondistrict Agencies and Professional Researcher -- Single School
- Procedure 4930 -- Research Projects Involving the District, by Students for Advanced Degrees and by Nondistrict Agencies and Professional Researchers
- Template for Memorandum of Agreement (Word document)
Contact the Office of Research and Development at (619) 725-7190 for clarification of these guidelines.