Conducting Research in DPSCD



    Please note that we are no longer accepting applications for Fall 2024. The deadline for applications for research projects set to begin in January 2024 is July 31, 2024. Please be advised that we can no longer consider applications from graduate students who are not DPSCD employees.



    The purpose of the Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) research application and approval process is to ensure that research conducted within the District is of high quality and has the potential for advancing knowledge and improving practice, while also protecting staff and students’ safety and time. DPSCD’s Department of Research & Data Science (RDS) welcomes research proposals that may produce actionable insights to district leadership to better support students.  

    All research inquiries should come directly through RDS and follow the application approval process. Please do not email principals or other staff directly.


    Public Data Sources

    We encourage researchers to utilize publicly available state data from MISchoolData when possible. Overall district and individual school results reports are readily available as public information files and do not require the submission of a research request application to access. The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) also has educational data. In addition, the US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights maintains a public use dataset that may be helpful.

    Utilizing these public use data sources is the fastest way to conduct research related to DPSCD.


    Evaluation and Priorities

    At DPSCD, RDS reviews educational research proposals that require data, resources, or analysis from DPSCD students, staff, or parents. DPSCD is committed to fostering meaningful research activity aligned with supporting our mission to educate and empower every student.

    The District utilizes the ABCDs of DPSCD to evaluate all external research partner applications, including current DPSCD employees: 

    • Alignment - Proposals must be aligned with all District values and at least one strategic objective and district focus.
    • Beneficial - Findings must be beneficial to District leadership in providing actionable insights to help make data-informed decisions.
    • Cost-Effective - Data collection and other research activities must impose a minimal burden on District stakeholders, especially students’ instructional time.
    • Disseminatable - Researchers must have a strategy for advancing knowledge to District leadership.

    Current research priorities are aligned with the Blueprint 2023 District Focuses:

    • Grow Enrollment
    • Improve Attendance
    • Enhance Culture and Climate 
    • Achieve Academic Growth and Proficiency
    • Boost College and Career Readiness
    • Support Staff Effectiveness
    • Steward Resources Responsibly

    Please note that we are highly unlikely to approve any research that involves data collection during instructional time. All student surveys, focus groups, interviews, or classroom observations require parental opt-in (no exceptions). We do not permit audio or video recording of students in classrooms for research purposes. Finally, we will not approve any randomized control trials to evaluate experimental curricula. 

    Due to our very limited capacity and need to focus on directly supporting DPSCD students, we can only consider applications from research universities. Projects by Masters and undergraduate students cannot be considered. Doctoral dissertations will only be approved when there is a high likelihood that the project will yield actionable insights to inform district policymaking. Projects that impose any sort of administrative or coordination burden on school staff are unlikely to be approved.


    Application Review Process and Timeline

    DPSCD manages a high volume of data and information requests from a broad array of stakeholders and organizations seeking information for a variety of purposes. 

    We will evaluate as capacity allows; however, given the internal review process, there is limited flexibility with the dates and applications cannot be expedited. Very few projects that require primary data collection will be approved each year due to limited capacity within schools.

    The application review process can take at least 90 days plus additional time to formalize the research agreement. In addition, there is no guarantee of approval for submitted applications. Please be aware that DPSCD receives more proposals than we can support. Those with a tight deadline (e.g., a dissertation) may want to consider working with other districts. As noted above, given the expected length of the review process and the volume of applications, we cannot approve primary data collection (e.g., surveys or interviews) within the District prior to Fall 2023.

    Application Timeline

    Application Submission Date

    Research Start Month

    March 31st


    July 31st




    Submit Your Application

    The external partner research application online submission portal is designed to ensure that all applicants comprehensively provide the required project information and supporting materials necessary in a clear and consistent manner to ensure a fair and efficient review. It is also designed to help streamline the process for applicants. Failure to submit any required response information or materials with your initial application, or delays in responding to requests for additional information at any stage in the process, may result in significant delays in the review process for your application.

    Please note that the online submission system does not allow you to save a partially completed entry and return to finish it later, so it must be completed in one session. If you are planning to submit a new request or a modification request for an existing agreement and run into any limitations in the online submission, please e-mail additional information directly to

    Click HERE to begin a new application