Research in schools (K-12)

This page contains links to 3rd party online content; if you experience any issues accessing this content, please contact Research Integrity.

The Nevada Department of Education provides a rich source of aggregate student data that are available to the public and may be used for research without restriction. Visit nevadareportcard.com for more information.

  • All other research conducted in K-12 schools requires adherence to Department of Education (DoEd) regulations related to FERPA and PPRA. Please refer to policies 75-78 for DoEd research. Additional information on FERPA and student privacy can be found through the US Department of Education Protecting Student Privacy and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • Research involving students in K-12 schools requires additional protections for children. Please refer to our policy for research with children.
  • University policy requires investigators to submit the supplemental forms for DoEd research and for research involving children. Forms are available in the IRBNet library.
  • Individual schools or school districts may have additional requirements. Please check with district administration. Details for research in WCSD and CCSD are provided below.
  • Research involving educational records or surveys must comply with FERPA or PPRA regulations, respectively, for obtaining signed permission from parents.

Permission from Schools

  • IRB approval will not be granted until documentation is received from central school district administration authorizing the research.
  • Permission from principals at individual schools should be obtained following IRB and school district central administration-level approval.
  • Investigators should provide school officials with copies of IRB and school district central administration-level approvals when seeking permission to conduct the research at individual schools (i.e., site permission).
  • Investigators may draft a site permission letter using the institutional support letter template (available from the forms page of this website) and forward it to school officials.

Washoe County School District

Prior to project initiation, University of Nevada, Reno and affiliate researchers who plan to conduct human research at a Washoe County School District (WCSD) site must obtain approval from

  • a University IRB and
  • the WCSD office for Accountability, Research, and Evaluation.

University Research Integrity (RI) and WCSD conduct concurrent review as discussed in the section on coordination of reviews by the IRB and WCSD below.

Guidelines for the Use of WCSD Student and Teacher Data for External Research Projects

Investigators who plan to use WCSD educational records, including teachers who wish to use test scores or classroom assignments from their own students, must read these guidelines

External research proposals that rely on Washoe County School District staff to collect, extract, clean, process, package, or otherwise provide data to the investigator are invariably denied.

The Washoe County School District receives more than 100 inquiries each year from external researchers. The District does not have sufficient staff resources to extract, clean, process or package dat sets for external projects. Therefore, the WCSD Accountability and IT/Infinite Campus departments will not accept requests to extract or otherwise provide data for external research projects. This restriction applies to all external research projects, including graduate student research conducted by WCSD staff members. In some cases, WCSD staff members engaged in research to fulfill university program requirements may be allowed to extract data from student information system themselves for use in their approved research project, but only to the extent of their existing data access permission level. Accountability and IT/Infinite Campus staff members cannot extract data for them.

Restrictions on the Use of Student and Teacher Data for Research

The collection and use of research-generated student data requires written parental consent in all cases, and written student assent if the student is age eleven or older. Passive or opt-out consent are not allowed. There are no exceptions. Written parental consent is also required to use, for research purposes, student data that were generated through regular classroom activities. Passive or opt-out consents are not allowed. The use of student-level standardized assessment data for external research projects is rarely allowed. The use of teacher and/or administrator data that are attached to personally identifiable information (name, employee number, etc.) requires written consent from the teacher or administrator.

Public Aggregated Student Data

The following aggregate student data that is available to the public may be used for research without restriction.

Coordination of IRB and WCSD review and approval through Research Integrity

  1. At least six weeks before the target start date for the research, contact Jan Hall, Accountability, Research, and Evaluation at a href="mailto:jmhall@washoeschools.net">jmhall@washoeschools.net or (775) 325-2081 to discuss the primary features of the research study.
  2. Ms. Hall will assess the proposed research to determine if it is acceptable to the District.
  3. After receiving confirmation that the project is acceptable to the District, complete and submit a University IRB application with supporting documents.
  4. Submit the WCSD research protocol to the IRB through IRBNet.
  5. The IRB administrator will coordinate the formal review for the IRB and WCSD administration and notify researchers of the results.
  6. Following IRB and WCSD approval of the project, researchers should seek school principal permission letters/emails. Submit site permission letters/emails as a follow up package in IRBNet with the following:
    1. Completed and signed performance site change form (available from the forms page of this website)
    2. Updated IRB application listing the individuals schools by name
  7. The IRB will acknowledge the site permission letters/emails and updated application.
  8. Upon receipt of IRB acknowledgment for one or more sites, the research may be initiated at those sites.

Clark County School District

Information about the Clark County School District (CCSD) research review process and the application may be found at ccsd.net/departments/assessment-accountability-research/research-review-process.

Steps for review of research at CCSD sites:

  1. Complete and submit a University IRB application with supporting documents.
  2. A University IRB will review the protocol and request revisions as needed.
  3. The University IRB will review and approve the revisions, and send the principal investigator and contact person a notice of IRB conditional approval (subject to CCSD approval).
  4. Upon receipt of IRB conditional approval, submit the CCSD research application with a copy of the IRB letter.
  5. After receiving approval from CCSD, submit a copy of the CCSD approval letter to the University Research Integrity Office.
  6. The University IRB will send a letter of final IRB approval to the principal investigator and contact person.
  7. Upon receipt of documentation of the University and CCSD IRB approvals, investigators may contact the targeted schools to obtain site permission.
  8. Investigators must provide the IRB with copies of site permission letters/emails with the following:
    1. Completed and signed performance site change form (available from the forms page on this website)
    2. Updated IRB application listing the individuals schools by name
  9. The IRB will acknowledge the site permission letters/emails and updated application.
  10. Upon receipt of IRB acknowledgment for one or more sites, the research may be initiated at those sites.

NOTE: The CCSD research review committee meets on a rolling schedule. Investigators are encouraged to submit the application to the CCSD at least 60 days before the desired start date for the research.

Research in All Other School Districts

Investigators planning to conduct research at public schools (including charter schools) in districts other than Washoe and Clark counties, must complete the following steps:

  1. Contact the district superintendent's office to determine what steps are required to obtain district approval to conduct human research at schools in that district.
  2. Obtain district approval as required.
  3. Submit documentation of district approval with the IRB application.
  4. Upon receipt of documentation of IRB and District approvals, investigators may contact the targeted schools to obtain site permission.
  5. Investigators must provide the IRB with copies of site permission letters/emails with the following:
    1. Completed and signed performance site change form (available from the forms page on this website)
    2. Updated IRB application listing the individuals schools by name.
  6. The IRB will acknowledge the site permission letters/emails and updated application.
  7. Upon receipt of IRB acknowledgment for one or more sites, the research may be initiated at those sites.

Research at Private Schools

Investigators planning to conduct research at a private school must determine if the targeted school is independent of or subject to district oversight.

  • If the private school is subject to district oversight, steps for obtaining district approval apply.
  • If the private school is independent of a school district, researchers may contact the school administration only to assess the feasibility of conducting research at the school.
  • Upon receipt of documentation of IRB approval (and district approval if required), investigators may contact the targeted schools to obtain site permission.
  • Investigators must provide the IRB with copies of site permission letters/emails with the following:
    1. Completed and signed performance site change form (available from the forms page on this website)
    2. Updated IRB application listing the individuals schools by name
  • The IRB will acknowledge the site permission letters/emails and updated application.
  • Upon receipt of IRB acknowledgment for one or more sites, the research may be initiated at those sites.