Working with State and District Stakeholders to Collect Useful Data

Excellent research relies on collecting complete, high quality, and useful data elements from stakeholders. Through various projects, RMC Research works with research partners in states, districts, and schools to collect these data in a way that minimizes the burden placed on research partners, ensures consistency across sites, and that can provide useful information back to stakeholders. This process involves several steps.

First, initial conversations with stakeholders shed light on which data elements relevant to the research questions would likely be available. These conversations are general, and occasionally supported by documentation of the types of data elements used in other related research (we use the Common Education Data Standards to begin).

Second, we share more detailed list of the data elements and the expected definitions of these data elements with the research partners. This list is developed using the initial conversation, any resources provided by the research partners about data element definitions, and guiding research questions. In a detailed conversation about every possible data element, we collaboratively refine the formal data request.

Third, the formal data request is submitted, including information about the purpose of the project, timelines, data transfer, data templates, and a notes memo containing any information about challenges with particular data elements and space for the research partners to document any challenges that arise.

Once the data are received, there are additional steps involved in ensuring data are valid and include all the requested information. RMC Research follows strict ethical guidelines and data confidentiality rules and handles all data with extreme caution. While challenges still arise, having a common process allows for easier data collection that is more consistent across sites, and ultimately, more useful for all stakeholders involved.