Seattle Public Schools

Research and Evaluation

Apply to Conduct Research

What is SPS Research Review?

In accordance with district policy 4280 and 4280SP Seattle Public Schools has implemented a rigorous research review process managed by the department of Research and Evaluation (R&E). Our district requires this process for all individuals and organizations interested in conducting human subjects or secondary administrative data research with Seattle Public School students and staff (note that staff includes school administrators, school leaders, and teachers).

Below are applicant resources. Please read the research review guidelines thoroughly, as it answers many questions you may have around the research review process, timelines, and requirements.

The review committee meets monthly and screens applications for:

  • Relevance to districtwide strategic initiatives and goals
  • Rigor of research methodology
  • Risks/benefits to schools and study participants
  • Burden to the district, schools, and study participants

Application and Guidelines

These guidelines (in the document above and summarized below) are intended to help you determine all necessary requirements for submitting a complete application, as well as the process and standards by which your application will be reviewed. As you read through the guidelines, please note that, while Seattle Public Schools recognizes the value of supporting research, it does not guarantee the right to access Seattle Public Schools students, staff, or data for research purposes.

If access is granted, the researcher may only access schools, students, staff, and data relevant to the research as approved by the department of R&E. R&E reserves the right to modify the guidelines as needed and to request changes to multi-year approved research proposals or research proposals.

R&E reviews three types of research proposals:

  • Internal research
  • External research
  • Partnerships/grants

Knowing the category your proposal fits in is critical, as this will impact the application form and timeline for review.

External research requires a full application (for first time applicants on a given project) or amendment form (for changes or extensions of ongoing approved external research). The full application includes Part I, Part II, Data Request Form (if applicable), and all attachments.

External Research includes:

  • Independent research conducted by individuals, organizations, or agencies not affiliated with SPS. This includes community based organizations (CBOs) who do not have a formal research agreement as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and/or DSA with the district and are conducting research studies. (To determine if a CBO data analysis effort constitutes a research activity, the CBO section of these guidelines.)
  • Research conducted by District employees for purposes outside of their work duties and/or work hours (e.g. research conducted to fulfill degree program requirements).
  • Product research conducted by a company or entity to study a product’s effectiveness.
  • Voluntary surveys of district staff, students, or families developed by outside research institutions, non-governmental agencies or other entities.

Internal research does not require an application, does not require data sharing agreements (DSAs), and do not generally require parental consent or the option to opt out of student-level data collection efforts. if internal research includes a data requests this should be submitted to the Department of Technology Services (DOTS). Internal Research includes:

  • SPS central office managers and directors who plan and conduct research on how to improve district services and programs within their area of supervision or as part of their general job duties (Note: if your internal project involves evaluation as part of a grant application, this places your project in the “Partnerships/Grants” category).
  • SPS school staff who conduct informal inquiries into classroom practices or piloting of new programs, products or services.

Partnerships and grants are evaluated on a case-by-case basis through consultation with R&E, and may require that applicants fill out the Part I application. Examples of Partnerships/Grants include:

  • Planned evaluation in grants to external sources with SPS as sole or joint applicant.
  • Voluntary government agency (federal, state, municipal, etc.) data collection efforts (e.g. state surveys). Note. mandatory data reporting to state or federal agencies is not subject to research review.
  • Mandatory surveys developed by outside non-governmental agencies or entities.
  • Community Based Organizations (CBOs) whose activities do not fall into the “research study” category as outlined in these guidelines, and who have a formal Memorandum of Understanding and/or Data Sharing Agreement (DSA) with SPS.

If your research involves a request for secondary data (e.g., student achievement data) collected or maintained by Seattle Public Schools, you must submit a Data Request Form in addition to the Research Application.

Please indicate on the form what data, including all variables and datasets, you hope to receive. Note that secondary data can be processed at the student-level and will not contain Free and Reduced Price Lunch information.

If your application involves a custom data request, please be advised that your request will be routed through the Department of Technology Services. All approved research requests will be filled in a .csv file format.

For secondary data requests, please visit the DoTS Data Reporting page to determine which category best fits your request or see the Public Records Requests and Archives Requests for more information.

Learn more about available SPS data