Research with MSDE
MSDE Office of Research, Planning and Program Evaluation is tasked with creating and implementing a research agenda to benefit Maryland’s students; assessing MSDE’s progress toward its mission; and supporting data-use and data-driven decision-making throughout the state. The Office will consider proposals from independent, non-partisan researchers interested in conducting work in Maryland. Proposals are particularly welcome (but not limited to) the areas identified in our research agenda. All proposals will be reviewed by the Office of Research, Planning and Program Evaluation, as well as MSDE’s intra-agency External Research Review Committee (ERRC).
Enrollment, attendance, graduation rate, assessment results, and other supporting data at the school, county, and state level is located on the
Maryland Report Card website, and can be
downloaded directly from that page.
The following information applies to both:
To ensure that MSDE staff are not unduly burdened, and to ensure a distribution of project types, proposals may be submitted at any time but they will be reviewed by MSDE four times per year. The review process will begin on the following dates:
February 3, 2023
May 5, 2023
August 5, 2023
November 3, 2023
All proposals must be received prior to 12:00am on the date listed to be considered. Researchers should expect a decision on their proposal approximately three weeks after the date listed.
Proposals should be emailed to the
Office of Research, Planning and Program Evaluation.
If approved, please note that the timeline for receiving data depends on the size of the data request, the volume of other proposals received by MSDE staff, and MSDE's capacity to fulfill requests while balancing internal existing priorities for research and data. Processing may take several months or more.If the proposal is for a multi-year study, an annual update consisting of a summary of findings or other progress-to-date is required.
Proposals will be reviewed on relevance, quality, and resource burden. A relevant proposal has outcomes that are directly related to the mission of MSDE and has a benefit to Maryland’s students, as opposed to using Maryland as a "laboratory" or "test case" for research that could be conducted in any location. A relevant proposal also includes a plan for communicating the findings to MSDE and other stakeholders. A high-quality proposal demonstrates scientific rigor in research design. A proposal with minimal resource burden does not put a strain on MSDE or school system resources that would negatively impact the work of any agency.
Because MSDE is committed to supporting high-quality research that furthers its goals, if a proposal details promising research but some elements are missing or unclear, the researcher may be invited to resubmit with changes.
All proposals will be reviewed by the Office of Research, Planning and Program Evaluation, and MSDE’s intra-agency External Research Review Committee (ERRC).
To be considered, proposals must include:
Goals of the research, including how the proposed research aligns with MSDE’s mission and/or benefits Maryland’s students;
Clear, well-formed research questions of educational importance;
Rigorous methods that are appropriate to the research questions;
Additional research design elements, including the theoretical framework, hypotheses, sample selection, instruments, and analysis plan;
A description of the requested data elements;
How results will be published, disseminated, or otherwise communicated (especially to MSDE and its stakeholders);
A list of researcher(s), with the lead researcher(s) indicated, including names, titles, and affiliations;
A timeline of the proposed work;
Statement of how the researcher will eliminate or minimize any risks or burdens to students and employees, including how the researcher will maintain data security; and
Appropriate IRB documents, or a statement of why the proposed research is exempt.
Note that MSDE charges for direct cost of data extraction in excess of two hours. MSDE will provide the researcher with an estimate of these costs if the proposal is approved.
MSDE recognizes the value of high-quality research for improving education and serving the needs of Maryland’s public-school students. Because of limited resources, MSDE must prioritize student learning and achievement, and all research must be aligned with the State’s mission and vision. External researchers must demonstrate that research conducted in Maryland, or with its resources, contributes to achieving the State’s goals.
MSDE particularly encourages proposals in areas that align to its research agenda, but proposals on all topics are welcome as long as they contain the required components.The State also has legal and moral obligations that require oversight of research activities conducted with public resources. These obligations include:
Although MSDE does not function as an institutional review board (IRB), we must require that all research within the State adhere to federal regulations regarding family and pupil rights, privacy, and protection. In addition, we must require that all research within the district adhere to federal guidelines regarding the protection of human subjects.Researchers should also be familiar with the
Code of Ethics of the American Educational Research Association especially those principals that apply to protecting the rights of research participants.
All approved proposals require a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the researchers and MSDE. The MOU establishes guidelines for appropriate use of the data and outlines the Scope of Work of the project, which will be drawn from the original proposal. The MOU must also contains assurances that all research activities are in compliance with existing legal and ethical codes, that the research will not differ significantly from the proposal without explicit permission from MSDE, and that MSDE will be provided with findings prior to publication.
Requesters may submit at any time, and should expect to receive a decision within approximately four weeks. Requests should be emailed to
Requests for support will be reviewed on largely the same criteria as described for data requests.
All proposals will be reviewed by the Office of Research and Strategic Data Use, and representatives of the relevant office within MSDE.
Requests should consist of an overview of the project or “concept paper” that contains, as applicable, the elements of the following list.
*MSDE understands that requests for MSDE’s assistance/support are often for projects that are descriptive or qualitative in nature, and thus some of these elements do not apply.