It is important to keep in mind that school district faculty and administrators are very busy professionals with many demands on their time and attention. University researchers are guests in the school building and are granted access based on the benefits a school district envisions in accepting the project. Researchers should carefully consider what benefits can be provided to the district in connection with the research. Benefits to the district or schools may come in the form of sharing some portion of the data or some interpretation of those data. That need not be the final write-up of the project but something that the school can use to examine its own situation. Other benefits could include some professional development that relates to the subject of the research or an explanation to the school community of the issues being studied to raise awareness. Funded projects may be providing stipends but schools are also looking for the expertise of researchers in exchange for the access granted. Contributions such as this encourage goodwill between the University and school district staff along with ongoing professional development or educational support at the school level. In order to obtain the approval of a school to conduct research with people affiliated with the school as participants you need to complete the School Research Form - an online web form. The form will provide us with the information we need to contact the school districts to obtain approval for you to conduct research there. Just as the IRB will not allow you to conduct research on campus without an approval process, school districts want to see what you plan to do to conduct research with their students or data.
The process starts with the Superintendent because we have found that school districts are far more willing to work with us if everyone from district administration through the teachers involved has full knowledge of the process. We provide an online form for your convenience that helps us inform the schools of your project and give them a quick way to see what you are doing for their approval. We do need your IRB with attachments to be uploaded when you file the form. Schools often ask for the IRB so they have a complete picture of what you will be doing. You can save the form partway through and come back to it later to complete. When you are done, the information you entered on the form will be emailed to you so you can confirm what you have submitted. The information from this form is sent to the school district where you want to conduct the study so it should clearly represent the goals of the project to teachers and school administrators. We need this information for all school research projects - not only for the local districts. The local districts do have deadlines that are set out below and if you wish to do work in those districts, please read that information also.
If you have trouble with the link to the School Research Form on this page, cut and paste this URL into your browser address bar and it will take you there: http://go.education.illinois.edu/schoolresearchform