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Research Involving Students or Professional Staff

This regulation shall apply to all research and program evaluation activities involving staff members, students, parents, or community members whether they are elementary or secondary-related and whether they are school or community related.

A. Generally

The Superintendent or the Superintendent's designee will act upon all proposals for research projects involving students or professional staff only after consideration of the following:

  • The Human Subjects Review Committee's recommendation;
  • The nature and purpose of the activities as described in the research plan;
  • The anticipated benefit to the research subjects and/or the school division's educational program.

B. Administrative Criteria

Research involving students or professional staff may be approved by the Superintendent or the Superintendent's designee provided that:

  • The research proposed complies with Roanoke City Public Schools Policies and Regulations, Federal Statutes and Regulations, Virginia Statutes and State Board of Education Regulations. This includes appropriate notice to and consent by parents/legal guardians, emancipated minors, and students older than 18;
  • The local Human Subjects Review Committee appointed in accordance with Code of Virginia § 32.1-162.19, et seq. has recommended that the research proposal be approved in accordance with state law;
  • The investigators are professionally competent;
  • The research plan sets forth explicit objectives and a sound design for collecting and analyzing information designed to reach these objectives;
  • The research holds out the prospect of direct benefit for the individual subjects and/or the division's educational program;
  • There will be no significant departure from normal school routine or use of instructional time on the part of students or staff;
  • Required notifications to parents or legal guardians and emancipated minors and students over 18 prior to student participation shall state the purpose of the research, the procedures to be followed, the right to review research documents and surveys, and the right to withdrawal at any time. Requests to review any research or survey material will be honored by the school division within five (5) business days after submission of a written request;
  • Adequate provisions are made to protect the privacy of students and to maintain confidentiality of data as set forth in School Board Policy and any implementing regulations.

C. Consent for surveys, analyses or evaluations of students or professional staff

Under no circumstances shall Roanoke City Public Schools participate in studies (internal or external) that require students to provide information in any of the categories listed below without prior parental/guardian written consent. Parents/guardians shall be notified thirty days prior to administration of the study and shall have the right to inspect surveys requiring students to provide information in any of the following categories:

  • Political affiliation of the student or the students' parents;
  • Mental or psychological problems of the student or the students' family
  • Sexual behavior or attitudes;
  • Illegal, antisocial, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
  • Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have a close family relationships;
  • Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
  • Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or the students' parents/guardians;
  • Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such programs).

This requirement also applies to the collection, disclosure or use of student or professional staff information for marketing purposes or for selling or otherwise distributing/providing the information to others. Active informed consent may be required as determined by the Human Subjects Review Committee for surveys, analysis or evaluation of students not included above.

D. Request for Approval

  • Approval for conducting external research shall require the conformity to all requirements to this regulation. The burden of presenting proof of such conformity rests with the agency or individual conducting the research activity.
  • Internally generated program evaluation activities, undertaken for the purpose of improving programs and services, shall not be subject to external research approval procedures. School division personnel who undertake program evaluation and research projects shall be responsible for complying with all appropriate local, state and federal guidelines involving protection of participants including confidentiality, parent permission, and informed consent.
  • School principals shall be responsible for all program evaluation and research activities conducted by their schools. This includes those activities conducted by student organizations, parent organizations, etc.  Principals shall review and approve all such projects prior to their start.

E.  Proposal Submission Process

  • All external research proposals (instructional and non-instructional) involving students or professional staff are to be submitted to the Office of Research, Testing, and Evaluation for review and approval.
  • When research activities involve schools, consent shall be secured from building principals and the appropriate area associate superintendent.
  • When research activities involve central departments, consent shall be secured from department heads and the appropriate associate superintendent.
  • Parent(s) or guardian(s) of a student may inspect any survey created by a third party for external research purposed before the survey is administered.

F. Proposal Contents

All proposals shall include the following:

  1. Names, Affiliation and Contact Information of Principle Investigators
  2. The Purpose of this Research/Project
  3. Procedures including timelines
  4. Participant Selection Process
  5. Instruments to be used (copy of instrument attached)
  6. Potential Risks
  7. Benefits
  8. Assurance of Anonymity and Confidentiality
  9. Copy of Informed Consent Form including statement of Freedom to Withdraw

G. Proposal Approval Process

  1. All research proposals shall be submitted to the Office of Research, Testing, and Evaluation
  2. The researcher shall be informed if additional information is needed before the activity is reviewed
  3. All research proposals will then be submitted to the Division's Human Subjects Review Committee
  4. Upon final approval or disapproval of the proposed research, a letter shall be sent from the Department for Research, Testing, and Evaluation informing the researcher of the status of the request.

The Director of Research, Testing, and Evaluation is responsible for implementing and monitoring this regulation.

H.  Human Subjects Review Committee

The Superintendent designates the Director of Research, Testing, and Evaluation to establish and oversee a committee of knowledgeable persons to act as the school division's Human Subjects Review Committee. The committee will review and make a recommendation on all requests to conduct research and distribute surveys within the school division. The Director of Research, Testing, and Evaluation will make the final decision on all such requests based on the committee's recommendation.

Legal Reference:

Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) 20 U.S.C. § 1232.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Code of Va., § 32.1-162.16 et seq. Human Research.

Code of Va., § 22.1-16.1. Board to establish regulation regarding human research.