Data Request

The NSWERS exists to integrate and organize Nebraska’s education and workforce data to inform decision making. The NSWERS Data System contains information about all public school districts and post-secondary institutions in Nebraska, including students in pre-kindergarten programs (programs for children prior to kindergarten), kindergarten programs, grades one (1) through twelve (12), two- and four-year postsecondary education, adult learners, and students receiving special education services through age twenty-one (21). It also contains information about school district and post-secondary institution personnel. The purpose of collecting individual records is to provide access to statistical information that improves education- and workforce-decision making for teachers, trainers, administrators, policymakers, parents/guardians, and other education/workforce stakeholders as well as the general public.

However, personally identifiable information is disclosed only to those persons with a legitimate interest who have a NSWERS Security Agreement form approved and are an authorized agent of the NSWERS.

Data Request Process

The NSWERS may grant access to data for educational purposes, if:
  • the research study meets specific criteria related to scientific merit and feasibility;
  • the research is research the NSWERS would have otherwise conducted itself (as identified in the NSWERS Information Agenda);
  • appropriate privacy, confidentiality, and security measures are ensured throughout the proposed research plan; and
  • all necessary legal documentation is signed and in place.
The NSWERS uses a multi-step process to handle such requests. This process involves review by NSWERS staff but is facilitated chiefly by the NSWERS Executive Director and NSWERS Management Committee.
To begin the process, a researcher completes the NSWERS Data Request Application online. Upon receipt, NSWERS staff review the request and determine if the information is already publicly available. If so, the researcher is contacted and directed to the available data. If, however, the request is to conduct research that requires data beyond what is publicly available, the researcher must complete and submit to the NSWERS a comprehensive Research Proposal Application (RPA).
The RPA includes eight sections, each described below:
  1. Contact Information: The researcher must designate a Principal Investigator (PI) and provide contact information for future correspondence related to the project.
  2. Background Information about the Project: The researcher must explain the objectives of the study including any hypotheses to be tested, provide anticipated start and end dates for the project, and indicate the source and amount of any funding supporting the project.
  3. Purpose of the Proposed Research: The researcher must submit a narrative that explains why the research study is being conducted; how it will benefit Nebraska’s education and/or workforce systems, the NSWERS, Nebraska educators, policy makers, or other parties; and a description of the benefits to study participants, if applicable.
  4. Research Questions and Design: The researcher must submit its proposed research questions and describe the design of the study. Researchers are required to provide enough detail so that the NSWERSExecutive Director and NSWERS Management Committee can gauge the scientific rigor, merit, and feasibility of the study. Researchers are encouraged to attach any formal documentation detailing the study design when applicable (e.g., an approved proposal from a funding organization).
  5. Data Requested: The RPA must contain a list of all requested data elements including the unit of analysis for each element and the academic year(s) for which the data are being requested. The information in this section represents only what is initially requested by the researcher and is subject to change prior to approval.
  6. Proposed Data Collection Instruments/Protocols: If the researcher is proposing to collect additional data as part of the study (e.g., surveys, interviews, focus groups, administer tests, etc.), each proposed instrument/protocol must be described. Draft copies of the instruments/protocols must be attached to the RPA for review.
  7. Human Subjects Protection: The researcher must provide evidence of Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval or exemption upon submission of a data request to the NSWERS. Additionally, researchers must also describe the training that study PIs/co-PIs have completed and may be asked to provide evidence of its successful completion via any applicable certificates. Researchers must also describe in detail the security procedures that will be utilized to protect the confidentiality of the information provided as part of the project, describing who will have access to the data, how information will be stored, and how the data will be destroyed at the conclusion of the project.
  8. Reporting: The researcher must provide a list of all anticipated reports, the audience for each report, anticipated completion dates and any dissemination plans. Additionally, researchers must obtain advanced written approval from the NSWERS before publishing results, analysis, or other information developed as a result of the data request.
The NSWERS Executive Director and NSWERS Management Committee utilize a quarterly cycle to consider all completed RPAs. This cycle is used to allow sufficient time to comprehensively evaluate received RPAs and negotiate all required security agreements prior to data release. The review cycles are as follows:
CycleApplication Due Date
WinterNo later than February 15
SpringNo later than May 15
SummerNo later than August 15
FallNo later than November 15
*Note: when the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, it is extended to the next available business day.
Following the application due date, each RPA is considered on a case-by-case basis to determine if the request is in accordance with federal and state laws. The NSWERS Executive Director and NSWERS Management Committee begin the review process by examining the scientific merit and feasibility of the study as proposed by the researcher. During this review period, the NSWERS may contact the PI for additional details regarding its RPA. Once all committee members have reviewed the proposal, the NSWERS Executive Director and NSWERS Management Committee draft a Decision Memorandum for each received RPA. The decision memorandum includes:
  1. an overview of the proposed project,
  2. any special considerations specific to the project (usually related to privacy or level of effort),
  3. a summary of the anticipated benefits of participating in the study,
  4. the anticipated level of effort on the part of NSWERS Partners, NSWERS Affiliates, and NSWERS staff directly if the study were to commence, and
  5. a decision on whether or not to participate in the study.