MA DESE Innovative Science Study


Frequently Asked Questions 

What is this study about? 

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), is conducting a study with students who are in 5th or 8th grade to provide feedback on a portion of the new Massachusetts Innovative Science Assessment. By participating in this study, you will improve the new Massachusetts Innovative Science Assessment, so that it can be easily understood by thousands of other students in Massachusetts. 

Where will the research interviews take place? 

This session will be administered either virtually from your home or virtually within your school, the link to access this study will be distributed prior to the testing date. 

What will happen during the research interview? 

Each participant will work through a portion of the new version of the Massachusetts Innovative Science Assessment on a computer. The participant will be connected with a researcher over the internet. The researcher will ask what the student was thinking as he or she completed the questions, whether he or she thinks the questions are clear and understandable, and whether he or she has any suggestions on how to improve the questions. 

Subject-specific knowledge is not required, and participants’ responses will not be graded. There will be more than one adult present during each research interview. 

How long will the research interview last? 

The interview will last no more than 60 minutes.   

Is there an incentive for participation? 

Yes, students who participate will be provided with a $25 gift card from a major credit card company as a thank you for their time, effort, and feedback.  

Will information be kept confidential? 

The participating student will be assigned a unique student identifier, and at no time will his/her name be linked to any of his/her answers. The study will not retain any personally identifiable information. Prior to the start of the study, students will be notified that their participation is voluntary and that the information they provide may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be disclosed, or used, in identifiable form for any other purpose except as required by law (20 U.S.C. §9573 and 6 U.S.C. §151). Audio will be recorded for analysis, but no personally identifying information will be recorded or retained. 

Will the results go to the participating students’ schools? 

The participating students’ answers will not be disclosed to their schools and will not be linked to any personally identifiable information, such as a school’s name.  

What are the possible risks of being in the study? 

There are no known risks to participating in this study. 

Is participation required? 

Participation in this study is completely voluntary. The participating student has the right to refuse to answer particular questions. The student may elect to withdraw from this study at any time and can end early if he/she wishes. 

What is needed or required for participation? 

For students under the age of 18, we require written, informed consent from a parent/legal guardian in order for the eligible student to participate. We also ask the student for his or her verbal consent to participate during the prescreening process. 

Participation in the study is completely voluntary. The parent or legal guardian or student may withdraw consent for the student’s participation in the study at any time. The student also has the right to refuse to answer particular questions. 

Whom can I contact with questions or for further information? 

Jose Duarte is coordinating these interviews for EurekaFacts on behalf of DESE. If you have any questions, please call 240-403-4800 or email