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Madison Metropolitan School District

External Research

What needs to be reviewed?

Any potential research project in MMSD must undergo review by the External Research Committee (ERC). Generally, MMSD defines "external research" as any situation where someone gathers data or information about MMSD students, parents or staff and shares that information with an external party. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Students working on projects for degrees or credit (e.g., a dissertation or thesis)
  • Students working on course projects they may want to publish at a later date
  • Grant-funded research conducted by postsecondary education faculty
  • Vendors looking to pilot an assessment or curriculum
  • MMSD staff working toward an advanced degree
  • MMSD staff looking to publish or present their action research outside of MMSD

Why does my project need to be reviewed?

The ERC process protects MMSD students and staff against research that puts them at personal and/or professional risk and helps MMSD determine whether the benefits of a proposed research project justify the risks and the time spent by participants and staff. Central Office liaisons are assigned to each external research project to assist researchers with their work in the district. More information about the liaison role can be found here.

How can I access individual-level data?

Individual-level data refers to data associated with a specific person, while aggregate data refers to data associated with a group of people. A memo from MMSD indicates the only ways that individuals may access individual-level MMSD data. For more information on data sharing agreements, click here.

What if I'm an instructor/student who'd like to collaborate with MMSD for a course project?

If you are an instructor who would like to collaborate with MMSD on a course project, or if you are a student working on an undergraduate or graduate course project, please contact Christopher Harrison ( as those requests are reviewed outside of the External Research Committee standing meetings.

Quick Links

External Research Committee Project Application

Amendment Request

Extension Request


Proposal Process

Items to Check Before Submitting Your Proposal

Frequently Asked Questions

Distribution Numbers (AY 2019-2020)

ERC Meeting Schedule 2020-2021

Proposal Due Dates Meeting Dates Notification Dates
August 31, 2020 September 14, 2020 September 25, 2020
October 26, 2020 November 9, 2020 November 20, 2020
December 28, 2020 January 11, 2021 January 22, 2021
February 22, 2021** March 8, 2021** March 19, 2021**
April 26, 2021 May 10, 2021 May 21, 2021

**The March meeting is the last one where proposals will be reviewed for the current school year. Proposals received after the March meeting deadline will be reviewed for the next school year.

Submit your proposal electronically to ERC by 4:00 pm on the date listed above to be considered at the next meeting date. Proposals received after the deadline will be tabled for consideration at the following month's meeting.

**The MMSD External Research Committee does not meet over summer break. Consider this as part of your planning process**

Who sits on the Committee?

The ERC is comprised of members from MMSD and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Current members are:

  • Christopher Harrison, MMSD, Interim Director of Research & Program Evaluation Office
  • Sherry Terrell-Webb, MMSD, Legal Services
  • Jennifer Schoepke, MMSD, Forward Madison
  • Margaret Hawkins, UW-Madison, Curriculum & Instruction
  • Andy Garbacz, UW-Madison, Educational Psychology
  • Jorge Covarrubias, MMSD, Professional Learning and Leadership Development (as needed)
  • Amy Wederath, MMSD, Student Services (as needed)

What if I have questions?

If you have questions about submitting a proposal, please contact Christopher Harrison in the Research, Accountability, and Data Use Department (608-442-2158; If needed, the ERC mailing address is:

Madison Metropolitan School District
Research & Program Evaluation Office
545 West Dayton Street, Room 205
Madison, WI 53703