Conducting Research In CSD

  • Thank you for your interest in conducting research with the City Schools of Decatur.

    The Office of the Deputy Superintendent is pleased to offer research proposal services for employees and external stakeholders such as Dissertation candidates, CSD staff, university faculty, research firms, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations through our Research Review Committee. 

Lit bulb on dark background filled with science-related sketches
  • Any requests to obtain data to support research activities through gathering information by observation, interview, survey, tests, and/or other data collection devices in CSD are defined as “research” and are subject to our proposal process which governs and coordinates research conducted in the City Schools of Decatur (CSD) for the following reasons:

    • To protect the rights and privacy of students, parents/guardians, and staff;
    • To protect instructional time;
    • To promote continuous improvement in student achievement;
    • To benefit CSD and support our mission, goals, and strategic plan;
    • To ensure that the research will inform educational practice.

    All prospective researchers interested in conducting research in CSD must submit a formal application and receive written approval before any research activities may begin. Research proposal approval will be based on consistent procedures established by district policies.

    The following information and instructions apply to all requests to conduct research within the district, whether made by employees of CSD or by external entities.

    To access the research application link, please read to the bottom of the page.

A calendar listing revolving deadlines for research submissions.


    General Information

    1. Proposal applications must be submitted electronically via the survey link by 11:59 PM on the closing date of each submission window listed on the 2024-2025 Research Proposal Review Calendar.
    2. All questions in the application must be completely answered and all supporting information/documents must be uploaded. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. However, they will be returned and may be completed and resubmitted by the next window deadline.
    3. All research proposals are approved for one calendar year as submitted. Changes or extensions must be requested in writing.


    Application Requirements and Submission Instructions

    At the end of the application form*, you will be asked to upload ONE PDF including the following documents, in the following order:

    1. If an applicant is from a college or university, they must submit a Letter of Institutional Endorsement*. The letter must be written and signed by the researcher’s advisor, major professor, instructor, dissertation committee chair, or appropriate college or university official. (An IRB Approval letter may be submitted in place of this endorsement.)
    2. All applicants must submit copies of all data collection instruments and protocols (ex: survey or interview questions, observation tools).
    3. Applicants must submit all Letter(s) of Informed Consent*.
    4. If the application is a resubmission, the applicant must submit an RRC Response Letter* explaining how they have addressed each of the Research Review Committee's concerns.

    All documents must be submitted in a single PDF master document with the last name and first initial of the submitting body/researcher and the title, “Research Proposal Submission” or “Resubmission”.  (e.g. "Smith J - Research Proposal Submission"

    Please ensure that each document included in the master document has a cover page listing the last name and first initial of the researcher/submitting body and the document title. (e.g. "Smith J - Student Letter of Consent" or "CDC - Parent Letter of Consent")

    *Document requirements, examples, and further details are available for download in the "supplemental information" section below.

Chart outlining needed information based on type of research.


    The Research Review Committee (RRC) consists of a rotating group of volunteer Cabinet members, Local School Administrators, and District Administrators selected based on their knowledge of the subject matter or connection to the proposed research.

    When reviewing research projects, the committee carefully compares the burden on students and staff to direct benefits and impact on school and district initiatives using a rubric based on the following criteria:

    • Alignment of the proposed research with CSD’s strategic plan.
    • Technical soundness of the research methodology, measures, and proposed analysis.
    • Time requirements of study design - in that the research does not interfere with instruction or require excessive student or staff time.
    • Compliance with human consent procedures.
    • Appropriateness of the research topic for support in a public school setting.
    • Clarity of purpose and thoroughness of research plan.
    • Compliance with federal regulations concerned with student records, privacy, and participation in research studies.

    Initial Consideration

    When a proposal review period opens, the RRC Chair uses the following questions to evaluate each proposal.

    1. Have all items been appropriately completed and submitted?
      • Completed Application Form
      • PDF Upload including:
        • Letter of Institutional Endorsement/IRB
        • Data Collection/Protocol(s)/Instrument(s)
        • Letter(s) of Informed Consent
        • Response Letter (when resubmitting only)
    2. Are the rights and privacy of students, caretakers, and staff protected? 
    3. Is instructional time protected?
    4. Is student/participant well-being promoted?
    5. Is the school’s principal willing to accommodate/support the work?  
    6. Does the research benefit CSD and support our mission, goals, and strategic plan?

    If the above requirements are not met, the Chair will return a proposal without committee review. If requirements are met, the committee will gather and use a rubric to determine acceptance or denial of a proposal.

    If a rubric indicator is rated “needs improvement”, the proposal may be returned with a request to resubmit during the current window. If an indicator is rated “unacceptable”, the proposal may be denied or returned with an opportunity to resubmit in a future window.


    Researchers who receive RRC approval will receive a formal letter of response via e-mail from the Office of the Deputy Superintendent and the RRC by the response deadline. School staff, parents, and/or students may choose not to participate in a research study even if approved by the Research Review Committee.


    Denial of a research proposal will likely be based on one or more of the following criteria.

    • Failure to protect the rights and privacy of students, parents/guardians, and staff
    • Failure to protect instructional time
    • Lack of benefit for CSD and/or lack of support for our strategic plan
    • Failure to provide a complete application w/attachments
    • Failure to submit a professionally prepared proposal
    • Failure to submit a proposal that exemplifies scholarly work
    • Failure to submit a research proposal that is logistically feasible in the school district
    • The potential for harm to CSD or subjects outweighs the value of the research

    If your Research Proposal is denied:

    Once you have made revisions to your application, you may submit a revised version of your Proposal for a later review window.

    Please resubmit with an RRC Response Letter - an uploaded letter listing each bulleted area of concern/question in the denial letter and explaining how each area of concern has been addressed. Do not resubmit your proposal until you have addressed each issue.

    A revised Proposal may still be denied by the RRC on the grounds of concerns listed in the original denial letter or on new grounds.

    Research review committee members invest extensive time reviewing and providing feedback on each research proposal. When a proposal is denied, it generally requires substantive changes. Should your proposal be denied, we suggest you meet with your research chairperson to discuss the concerns outlined in the denial letter, and then, carefully and thoroughly address the listed concerns before resubmitting your application and RRC Response Letter.

    The RRC will not accept a proposal that has been denied twice.


    Please see THIS LINK for a PDF of the following:

    Research Proposal Application - A copy of the application to help you prepare the information needed before you start the application.

    Please see THIS LINK for a Google document copy of the following:

    • Requirements for the Letter of Institutional Endorsement - any individual requesting approval for research from a college/university must submit a Letter of Institutional Endorsement. This is a list of requirements for that letter.
    • Letter of Informed Consent Checklist - this checklist helps you prepare a letter for each research participant and includes all required elements.
    • CSD Strategic Plan Objectives - any research conducted in CSD must reflect the goals and objectives of the district’s strategic plan. This is a list of those objectives.
    • Research Review Committee Rubric - the RRC Chair initially evaluates each proposal. This is a copy of the rubric used by the committee once the initial conditions have been met.


    If you have further questions about the proposal process, please contact dr. mari ann banks, Director of Equity and Professional Learning.

    e-mail : 

    Phone: 404-371-3601 x1029

    Response Time

    We are happy to work with you to help your application receive the consideration it deserves. However, CSD is a small school district and we do not have a single department dedicated to evaluating proposals. You may not receive an immediate response to your inquiry, but you should receive acknowledgment of a submission within 5-7 business days.