Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Welcome to Action Research EA 1255

First and foremost, congratulations on your sensational initiative, enthusiasm, and effort to develop your action research plan. As promised, we are trying to help support your action research project, along with assisting your internship experiences, and we have created a Faculty Intern/Action Research Blog for your particular section in this course.

With your Faculty Intern/Action Research Section Blog, you can post your blog address and share comments about the progress of your action research and your internship, and this will provide a location for faculty members assigned to your group to support your progress in your research and in the program.

We plan to have a faculty member assigned to your section by mid-September, so be sure to check this Blog and add it to your blog links. We believe this will continue to be an important source for sharing your action research and receive valuable feedback from our faculty.

We will continue to revise and refine the large Faculty Action Research Blog where we have identified 10 topic areas. We are trying to find the best means of sharing your action research progress while you review how others are pursuing their similar action research projects. We will be sending information to you regarding our revision of this topical blog!

Please create a new post
• sign in and share your Action Research blog name and blog address
• provide your frequently used email address and a contact telephone number
• provide an email address, and if possible, telephone number for your site supervisor(s)

Your section faculty member will use this Faculty Intern/Action Research Section Blog to communicate with you as you continue your work on your action research plan and your internship. The faculty member will be using a variety of means (e.g., Web Conferences, emails, telephone calls, Skype, etc.) to continually communicate with you, and periodically to communicate with your site supervisor(s) to discuss your progress in the internship, implementing the action research plan, and overall suggestions regarding the Leadership preparation program.

We will expect you to post on this blog once a week and this will be the location for you to communicate to the assigned faculty member who will be making sure that you are completing all of the work in the internship as well as assist you with the action research! Please note that we are also asking you to grant permission to us to share your Action Research blog information with other faculty and doctoral students. We assure you none of your research will be shared or published without your participation and consent. If data from the action research project and program evaluation are used, confidentiality will be maintained. And as we have emphasized, you are participating in laboratories of leadership and learning, and we will work with you to help you prepare submissions to present and/or publish your action research project, findings and recommendations to professional associations (e.g., Texas Association of School Administrators – TASA; Texas Association of Secondary School Principals – TASSP; Texas Elementary Principal and Supervisors Association – TEPSA; Texas ASCD; Texas Council on Staff Development; International Society for Technology in Education, ISTE; and specialized associations – Bilingual, G/T, Special Education).

Remember, the faculty assigned to your section will be available to assist you with some of the policy and procedure issues, and please ask for guidance. If you cannot reach the assigned faculty, feel free to contact any of the professors listed below since we are all familiar with the action research course and internship.

Wishing you the very best!
Dr. Steve Jenkins, Dr. Elvis Arterbury, Dr. Gary Martin, Dr. Kay Abernathy, Dr. Lu Stephens, Cindy Cummings, and other faculty who will be working with this follow-up initiative

Action Research Protocol

The professors are providing you with the following suggestions and guidelines as you are implementing your action research plan.

• Student confidentiality is important, even if they can’t sue you.

The Supreme Court (U.S., not just Texas) has decided that parents do not have the right to bring a private suit against a school district and/or its employees for violating FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). Does that mean it’s OK to engage in casual conversations about students in the faculty lounge? ABSOLUTELY NOT! First, it’s just not the right thing to do. Second, it’s still prohibited by federal law and a school district could lose federal funds. Finally, if school employees become too comfortable with a “they can’t sue me” attitude, it’s virtually guaranteed that Congress will amend the statute to allow for private suits. So be very careful to protect student privacy and confidentiality of records.

• While we’re talking about student confidentiality . . .

School district employees should be regularly reminded of their obligations to protect student confidentiality. This applies to all situations, and if you are going to conduct a research project involving individual students or wishing to survey parents, be sure to refer to district policies and procedures for conducting research (this information should be available from your online District Policies and Procedures Handbook).

And in general remember this leadership advice, only employees that have a “need to know” are entitled to specific information about kids. Parents are entitled to all (with a couple of narrow exceptions) information about their children, but are not entitled to ANY information about other folks’ children. We may not discuss any disciplinary action about a child with any parent other than his/hers. While this may be hard for parents to comprehend and accept (e.g., the dad whose kid came out on the losing side of the fight), it is federal law and we must stick to our guns (pardon the pun)!

• Hippo, Hippie, HIPAA – which one is it & why do we care?

We provide this information to guide you on privacy issues concerning colleagues and/or students that may participate in your research project. HIPAA is an acronym (just what educators need-another acronym) for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a federal law that includes a “Privacy Rule” which often applies to school districts. If a school district is a “covered entity” under HIPAA, then it must comply with the rules concerning use and disclosure of “protected health information.” School districts generally will be covered entities and subject to HIPAA privacy rules in two circumstances: (1) if the district provides health insurance for its employees through a self-insured plan, and (2) if the district participates in the Medicaid program known as SHARS (another acronym-School Health and Related Services) and the SHARS billing information is transmitted electronically.

There are some helpful exceptions to the HIPAA rules. Most importantly for school districts, health information that is considered an education record under FERPA (yikes-another acronym) is excluded from the HIPAA privacy requirements. However, health information that is not covered by FERPA (e.g., oral communications about student health issues) must be protected under HIPAA. There also are exceptions for information held by a district in its capacity as an employer (rather than an insurer), such as medical leave certifications, and for disclosure of workers’ compensation records to a district as an employer. In general, do not make statements or declarations in your research regarding an individual’s mental or physical health. On the other hand, it is certainly appropriate to report aggregate data (e.g., 95 students at Hood Elementary have been identified as students with learning disabilities; or 25 students have been identified as dyslexic).

Remember, the faculty assigned to your section will be available to assist you with some of the policy and procedure issues, and please ask for guidance. If you cannot reach the assigned faculty, feel free to contact any of the professors listed below since we are all familiar with the action research course and internship.

Wishing you the very best!
Dr. Steve Jenkins, Dr. Elvis Arterbury, Dr. Gary Martin, Dr. Kay Abernathy, Dr. Lu Stephens, Cindy Cummings, and other faculty who will be working with this follow-up initiative