Data Request Process

Washington’s Education Research & Data Center (ERDC) partners with other state agencies to link data in order to understand how the education system is serving Washington citizens. Our list of critical questions provide examples of the types of questions our data can help answer.

Data from our contributors

ERDC focuses on providing data for research and program evaluation questions that require data from multiple sectors in the education to workforce spectrum. If your project requires data from only one data contributor, that state agency would prefer for you to contact them directly. Visit here for a list of individual contributors.

Redisclosure vs. no redisclosure

Requests for data fall into two categories: requests that involve redisclosure of identifiable data, and requests that do not involve redisclosure. Examples of the former might include data requests for individual-level data from state agencies or third party researchers for program evaluation purposes. Examples of the latter might include requests for aggregate data, or projects that involve data visualizations, dashboards, or key indicators.

Data requests that involve redisclosure

A record-level dataset with many demographic and outcome variables is considered identifiable data, even if there are no direct identifiers, and is thus protected by FERPA and other privacy laws. The same is true of aggregate data with small cell sizes. ERDC cannot redisclose identifiable data to requesters for projects that are not FERPA compliant. To receive identifiable data, requesters should be named as an authorized representative in a data sharing agreement with involved data contributors, or ERDC can submit their request to a panel of involved data contributors, who may then designate the requester as an authorized representative.

Requests and projects that involve no redisclosure

Access to identifiable data by ERDC staff for internal projects, studies, and dashboards, or to fulfill requests for information that do not involve redisclosure of identifiable data can be specifically authorized through data sharing agreements with data contributors, or broadly authorized through well-defined critical questions listed in those same agreements. ERDC staff collaborate with data contributors to develop key critical questions that inform internal ERDC research, and which authorize ERDC staff to access data to respond to requests for information that align with those questions.

Data Request Approval Process

Present, to request information or data that falls in the "no redisclosure" category (e.g., aggregate data, key indicators, etc.), simply email ERDC at erdc@ofm.wa.gov and make the request. To request more detailed data sets that fall into the "redisclosure" categories, requesters should complete this data request form: ERDC-Data-Request-Form-12-6-2018. Requesters should also complete this security questionnaire: ERDC-Data-Security-Form.docx.

Before submitting the request, we encourage requesters to contact individual data contributors to discuss the project and how the project aligns with their research interests. This will facilitate the approval process. Once these forms are completed, submit them to ERDC at erdc@ofm.wa.gov. When received, your data request will be added to the data request log (located here), and ERDC staff will contact you if further information is needed.

Once the request is received, the process through which the request is approved differs depending on the nature of the request. The diagram below illustrates this process:

A downloadable, PDF version of this diagram is available here: ERDC-Data-Request-Process.pdf

Important terms

Identifiable data. ERDC will not share direct identifiers (except in rare circumstances). A record-level dataset with many demographic and outcome variables is not a de-identified data set, even if there are no direct identifiers. Such data is considered identifiable data, and is protected by FERPA and other privacy laws. The same is true of aggregate data with small cell sizes.

Aggregate data. Data that has been aggregated such that no cell or value describes fewer than 10 students, and so that no individual’s information can be inferred from the data. When sharing aggregate education data, we follow the redaction rules outlined in SLDS Technical Brief #3.

Fully de-identified data. Record-level data set that includes very few demographic and outcome variables, so that it is not possible to infer the identity of any student therein (even when combined with other available data). To de-identify individual-level education data, ERDC requires that there be at least 10 students for every combination of student characteristics. 

WSIRB review. The Washington State Institutional Review Board is tasked with reviewing all human subjects research to ensure that ethical, privacy, and other considerations are properly evaluated. ERDC uses the ERDC Preliminary IRB Screen to determine if a data request needs further review by the WSIRB.

FERPA compliance. FERPA refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which outlines the conditions under which education data can be shared without individual consent. ERDC receives and shares data under the audit and evaluation exception to consent, which means that ERDC cannot redisclose data for studies that are not an audit or evaluation of a state- or federally-funded education program.

Redisclosure. When ERDC shares identifiable data it has received from contributors to a third party (including data with indirect identifiers or unredacted aggregate data), this constitutes redisclosure. However, even activities that involve no redisclosure typically involve access to identifiable data by ERDC staff, and needs to be authorized by data contributors through data sharing agreements or pre-authorized critical questions.
 

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