Research in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

ppra gives parents some level of control over their child’s

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Conducting research in public schools is a complex endeavor. Researchers must contend with a wide range of issues, including the availability of school time and resources for research and the difficulty of securing parental permission.

They also must contend with a number of federal regulations and laws that govern research in the schools. This module will outline those regulations and laws and their implications for researchers.

The regulations governing parental permission and child assent apply to research conducted in public schools. This module will review the regulations with examples focusing on school-based research.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • List the federal regulations and laws that apply to research in the public schools.
  • Discuss the impact of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the
  • Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) on research.
  • Give examples of research eligible for exemption in the public schools.
  • Identify state and local reporting requirements.
If research in a private school is directly funded by the Department of Education, then:
PPRA applies.
The purpose of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is to:
Provide parents certain rights over their children’s educational records.
Which of the following types of information may schools disclose without consent from the parent or student to a researcher at a local university?
Directory information.
Parental notification, in lieu of active parental permission, is allowed when:
An IRB has approved a waiver of the requirement for parental permission.
PPRA gives parents some level of control over their child’s:
Participation in third-party survey research or exposure to instructional materials developed by researchers
Which of the following types of information may schools disclose without consent from the parent or student to a researcher at a local university?
Directory information.
Schools may disclose, without consent, directory information such as a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students that directory information is not protected, and they must allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. FERPA allows schools to disclose identifiable records without permission to certain parties, including organizations conducting research initiated by a school district or a state department of public instruction.
If research in a private school is directly funded by the Department of Education, then:
PPRA applies.
If research in a private school is directly funded by the Department of Education, PPRA applies, regardless of the risk level of the research (more than minimal or no more than minimal). A private school that does not receive any federal funding is not subject to the provisions of FERPA or PPRA.
The purpose of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is to:
Provide parents certain rights over their children’s educational records.
The purpose of FERPA is to give parents certain rights with regard to the release of their children’s educational records. School personnel such as teachers, counselors, and principals may access student records for legitimate school functions. Generally, schools must have written permission from a parent before releasing any identifiable information from a student’s record.
In addition to the general provisions of the Common Rule (the federal regulations for protecting research subjects), the following regulations also govern research in the public schools:
FERPA, PPRA, and Subpart D of the federal regulations
FERPA, PPRA, and Subpart D of the federal regulations also govern research in the public schools.
Which federal regulation or law governs how researchers can obtain data about subjects’ disciplinary status in school from academic records?
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
A student’s disciplinary status is part of his or her school record. In accordance with FERPA, schools must usually have written parental permission before they can release data from school records to researchers. The Protection of Pupil Rights amendment is concerned with the kinds of questions that may be included in surveys and interviews with minor school children. The No Child Left Behind Act is a specific amendment to PPRA that gives parents additional rights over the content of research materials. Subpart D of 45 CFR 46 is concerned with the rights of children as research subjects and does not regulate school systems.
If the research is subject to Subpart D, which of the following research activities with children would qualify for an exemption under Category 2 (research that includes educational tests, surveys, interviews, observation)?
Research about aptitude testing
Subpart D, Additional HHS Protections for Children, specifically prohibits the use of exemption for research involving survey procedures, interview procedures, or participant observation when the researcher participates in the activities being observed.
PPRA gives parents some level of control over their child’s:
Participation in third-party survey research or exposure to instructional materials developed by researchers
Parental notification, in lieu of active parental permission, is allowed when:
An IRB has approved a waiver of the requirement for parental permission.
PPRA gives parents some level of control over their child’s participation in third-party survey research or exposure to instructional materials developed by researchers. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s educational records. The ability to opt out of health education would be an institutional, local or state law, and is not covered in this module about research. The access to medical records would be covered under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and is not covered in this module as it does not relate to research in public schools.
Parental permission must be secured or waived in accordance with criteria established by federal regulation. When a waiver has been approved, investigators may wish to, and IRBs may require, that parents be notified that the study will take place, giving them the opportunity to withdraw their children from the study. Parental notification can never be substituted for active parental permission if the criteria for a waiver have not been met.

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