Conducting External Research

Conducting External Research

Research within The School District of Philadelphia

The School District of Philadelphia values research that contributes to improved educational outcomes for students. Because the District receives a large number requests from individuals and organizations to conduct research studies and the number of proposed projects is generally larger than the District can accommodate without significantly disrupting instruction, all individuals and organizations interested in conducting research in the District must have their proposals reviewed and approved by the Office of Research and Evaluation's Research Review Committee (RRC).

 What is the purpose of the Research Review Committee (RRC)?

The RRC reviews and tracks all research efforts in the District to ensure that: (1) the research is aligned with District goals; (2) research is not duplicative or unnecessarily burdensome to students or school personnel; (3) all required procedures are followed when conducting research with human subjects in school settings; and (4) research projects do not overlap in ways that make it difficult to interpret the findings.

What does the RRC consider "research"?

The RRC defines research very broadly. You must submit a proposal to the RRC if you propose to: (1) conduct analyses of administrative data that is not already publicly available; (2) collect any information from students, parents, teachers, or administrators; (3) conduct or record observations in a classroom, school, or after-school setting; and/or (4) recruit students, parents, or school personnel to participate in research-related activities. This includes (but is not limited to) all observations, interviews, focus groups, and surveys. If you have any questions, please email researchreview@philasd.org.

What kinds of studies does the RRC review?

The District permits five types of externally-conducted research: (1) academic studies; (2) Ph.D. dissertations; (3) national surveys; (4) grant mandated reporting; and (5) program evaluations. To ensure alignment with the District’s Action Plan 3.0, the District prioritizes proposed academic studies, Ph.D. dissertations and national surveys that directly align to the District's Anchor Goals.


Please Note: The District values rigorous, impartial evaluations of implementation and impact. Therefore, program providers may not evaluate their own programs in District schools. Providers wishing to conduct an evaluation must partner with an independent, third-party evaluator. Additionally, the District will provide non-aggregate data only to third-party evaluators.

However, with RRC approval (after completing the proposal process), program providers may collect information related to program implementation for progress monitoring or grant-reporting requirements (but not for evaluation or analyses related to the impact of the program). The RRC will assess the burden on participants, the quality and appropriateness of all data collection instruments, and whether proposed activities will interfere or overlap with other District research initiatives.

The Office of Research and Evaluation may be able to provide evaluation services at a reduced cost if the cost of a third-party evaluator is prohibitive.  Contact researchreview@philasd.org with questions.


Steps for RRC Proposal Submission*

Before submitting a proposal to the Research Review Committee, review the District's Action Plan 3.0.  Be sure that you can answer “yes” to each of the following questions.

1. Does your proposal fall into one of the permitted research categories?

2. If your proposal is an academic study, a Ph.D. dissertation, or a national survey, does it align with the Anchor Goals outlined in the District's Action Plan?

3. Will findings from your proposed research provide actionable information that can help improve the education experiences and outcomes of children in Philadelphia?

4. If requesting data or survey administration: Have you thoroughly explored all publicly available data, including the District-wide survey results, before determining the need to make a specific data request and/or administer your own survey instruments?


*PLEASE NOTE* As of January 2017, all new proposals are now subject to additional guidelines and requirements. If you are a Doctoral student, additional requirements may apply to you. Please contact Kelsey Weir at researchreview@philasd.org with any additional questions.

Ready to Submit?

If you are interested in submitting a research proposal for the committee's review, please CLICK HERE. All research activities must adhere to the District's policies and procedures.

If your research has already been approved by the RRC, please CLICK HERE.

If you are seeking DATA ONLY and are previously approved through the RRC, please CLICK HERE for to submit an online data request. Due to the volume of requests we receive, it will take at least 30 business days for your data request to be filled (beyond the research review process, if applicable). 

For questions or concerns, please contact Kelsey Weir at researchreview@philasd.org. If you would like to meet in person, please schedule an appointment.


*If the proposed study is related to a grant that provides/will provide services to students or teachers in District schools, or you need a letter of support for a proposed project from the District, please also complete an Intent-to-Apply form for the SDP Office of Grants at http://sdpgrants.weebly.com/.