The Trussville City School system has much to offer educational researchers. We allow outside researchers to conduct studies within our system while insuring that any research does not compromise the privacy of our students and parents, or disrupt the work of students, teachers, and administrators. Priority is given to TCS employees.
Proposals to conduct research in our schools are reviewed by the Trussville City Schools Institutional Review Board (IRB). If you are planning to submit a proposal, please review the guidelines listed below.
The IRB meets one time per month, October-June. Preliminary screening of proposals is conducted prior to the IRB meeting. The length of time required to review and approve a proposal depends primarily on the completeness of the proposal and the researcher’s prompt response to requests from (IRB) members/staff for clarification and/or additional information. Complete proposals received by the submission deadline will be reviewed during the corresponding IRB meeting (posted below).
Please email Lisa Berry if you need assistance.
Submission Deadline: First Monday of Every Month
Meeting Date: Regularly scheduled Board Meeting
Who should submit a proposal to the IRB?
Any person who wishes to conduct research at a school site or gather information on or from students or school staff must obtain written approval from the IRB. Graduate and undergraduate degree candidates, university faculty, independent researchers, and private and public agencies must all submit proposals before conducting research. This procedure applies even if the researcher is employed by the school system in another capacity (e.g., school administrators and teachers conducting research for graduate studies).
Please note that approval to conduct research is in effect for one year only. If the study is not completed within a year, the researcher must apply for a continuation. A continuation request should contain a copy of the original IRB approval letter and should detail any changes made to the previously approved research proposal, including changes to the original timeline, research participants yet to be recruited, copies of revised forms, letters and protocols and a summary of findings to date.
What proposal materials should be submitted using the electronic submission process?
When you open the submission form, you will be asked to provide the following types of information about your research study in lieu of submitting a research proposal:
- A statement of the research questions and objectives and a description of the implications of the research for Trussville City Schools, including the educational challenge(s) addressed by the research.
- A research methodology that fully describes the subjects and details the instruments and procedures in collecting the study’s data. It should be as specific as possible in regard to the number of subjects and how they are recruited and the estimated time required of the participants for the study’s research activities.
- A description of the study site(s) and a timeline that outlines the research methodology and activities.
- Consent/assent letters for the study’s participants including teachers, students and parents.
- A plan to protect the anonymity and confidentiality of research subjects.
- A statement of the risks and benefits of the study.
- All surveys, questionnaires, and protocols for interviews, focus groups and observations, along with any technical data describing validity and reliability of the instruments.
- A letter of invitation to principals to conduct research in their schools.
- A detailed explanation of the data analysis plan.
What criteria are applied by the IRB in considering a research proposal?
The IRB considers a number of factors in its review of a research proposal:
- The proposed research should be of an educational nature and relevant to TCS.
- The benefits of the research must outweigh the costs, which include staff and student time and other resources. Any potential risks/benefits for participants should be addressed in the research methods, and steps should be taken to ensure that risks to participants are minimal.
- The study should embody procedures that respect the confidentiality and privacy rights of staff, students, and parents in accordance with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines.
- Provision must be made for truly informed consent and assent of participants and parents of student participants.
- The proposal must include sound research methodology that uses reliable and valid instruments.
Researchers should also be aware of the following:
Researchers must also obtain prior approval from their own institution’s IRB.
Teachers, principals and other school staff who wish to conduct research must do so with students and staff other than their own. Requests for exceptions must be explained in your proposal submission.
Individuals, including teachers, principals and other DOE staff, cannot receive compensation to participate in research.
Participation in research studies should be completely voluntary. School administrators should not be asked to select teachers or other staff to participate. In addition, school administrators are not allowed to supply contact information for school/staff, parents, or students, or to provide student data. Data collection is the responsibility of the researcher and should not impose unnecessary burden on teachers and other school staff.
Most projects require informed consent from parents/guardians and adult research participants, and assent from students under the age of 18. Consents/assents should be in the form of a letter addressed to parents/guardians or participants. The researcher needs to provide the following information in the consent letter:
- The identification of the researcher(s) conducting the study and the study title.
- The purpose(s) for collecting the data.
- Description of the activities in which participants will be asked to participate(e.g., complete a survey, be interviewed, etc).
- A description of any individual student data that you seek (e.g., test scores, attendance records, etc.).
- The amount of time involved for participants.
- A statement that all information will remain anonymous and confidential; and that participation is entirely voluntary and participants may withdraw from the study at any time, with no consequences.
- A statement describing risks and benefits of the study.
- A local or 800 phone number for the researcher, so that the parent or participant may contact the researcher if there are questions or concerns.
- A local or 800 phone number for the Administrator/Chair of the researcher’s institution’s IRB if participants have questions/concerns about human rights.
- A space for a signature and check-off for either consent or refusal to participate. Most studies require active consent for the subject’s participation.
If participants are to be audio or videotaped, a separate signature line for parental and/or research participants’ consent/assent must be provided along with an explanation of the purpose of the tapes as well as a disposal plan for the tapes once research is completed. Please note: videotaping students for research purposes is generally not permitted.
Student assent forms should be written in age-appropriate language. An assent script to be read to younger children should be included with your proposal submission if not all participants are of reading age/ability.
If there is the possibility that parents do not understand English, letters in their native language must be provided. Researchers must retain all consent/assent forms, and must be prepared to make them available to a parent, teacher, or DOE official. Consent/assent forms, other documents, and research data must be retained in a secure location for a minimum of three years.
The invitation to participate in research should be printed on university or a research group’s stationery.
The researcher must also send letters to the prospective principals in the study inviting
their schools’ participation. These letters should similarly describe your study and its impact upon the school and ensure anonymity, confidentiality and voluntary involvement for all study participants.
The letter of invitation should not include a signature line for the principal’s consent, which can only be requested after the study is approved by the IRB.