Researchers and analysts are valued partners in our mission to support improved and equitable educational outcomes for all students across the Commonwealth. Our goal is to provide a streamlined process to help you access the data you need to complete your research.

Planning a research project? 

Follow the steps to find publicly available state data or to submit a research proposal for access to unpublished and confidential data.
1. Search for publicly available data  
A wealth of state, district, and school-level data is already published and available online. For quick access to datasets that may answer or refine your research questions: 
2. Review resources for researchers 
An essential resource for anyone planning to submit research proposals to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education or work with DESE data, this guide contains:
  • An overview of data available for request, including both widely known datasets like SIMS and EPIMS and other datasets such as earnings data, voting records, and student discipline
  • Detailed guidance on definitions and appropriate use of data, including changes between different collections
  • Procedures for research proposal submission, review, and data security protocols
  • Criteria for obtaining access to confidential data
This guide is intended to serve as a resource to researchers, advocates, and others interested in EEC data by providing an overview of commonly requested EEC data elements and the general process for submitting a data request.
Companion guide for requesting data from the Department of Higher Education is currently in development.

Data System Handbooks 
Data handbooks contain definitions, codes, and usage information for the data elements in each collection. Review these handbooks to ensure you request the right datasets for your research. Some of the variables change over time. Be sure the handbook corresponds with the years of data you are requesting.    
  • SIMS — Student Information Management System*  (.docx) 
  • SCS — Student Course Schedule  (.docx)
  • EPIMS — Education Personnel Information Management System  (.docx)
  • SSDR — School Safety and Discipline Report (.docx) 
  • HEIRS  — Higher Education Information Resource System
*2022 version. Archived versions of the SIMS handbook are also available. 

 3. Submit a proposal to access confidential data
A data request web portal currently in development will streamline the submission process for research proposals. In the interim, please use the agency contact information below: 
Be prepared to briefly describe:
  • Project scope and purpose
  • Research question(s)
  • Methodology or analytical approach 
  • Data elements and years needed 
  • Timeframe and deliverables
  • Research and policy implications of the study
  • Funding source (if applicable) 
  • Contact information and organizational affiliations 
Proposals that align with agencies’ research agendas are encouraged. Email us to discuss your project prior to submitting a proposal.

For public records requests, please fill out one of these forms: EEC, DESE, and DHE

Equity Lens

Agencies of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education are committed to research that advances equitable student outcomes, from expanding access to quality, affordable child care to increasing college enrollment, attainment, and success of historically underserved populations. The E2C Hub facilitates research on our shared priorities:
  • Early literacy
  • Educator diversity
  • Early College and Innovation Pathways programs
  • Earnings and outcomes
Please review our Education Research Agenda before submitting a research proposal. Preference is given to projects that align with these priorities. 
4. Know what to expect in the review process 
All research requests go through a two-step process: 
  • Prereview: The research team at the relevant agency will carefully review your request to ensure it meets the eligibility criteria. If needed, we'll contact you for clarification or additional information. 
  • Formal review: The research team will evaluate the project's feasibility, alignment with agency needs, and compliance with confidentiality requirements. We'll keep you updated on the status of your request and provide reasons for our decision. 
If your research request is approved, the research team will prepare and draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for review by legal counsel at the relevant agency. If legal concerns are raised, the research team will work with you to revise and resubmit. Once it’s accepted, all parties will sign the MOU and the data-sharing agreement will be executed.

5. Access the data 
With the MOU in place, we’ll begin preparing the data. On average, this could take two weeks to one month. The requested data will be shared with you securely through our secure data transfer portal.   
Plan ahead. The whole process can take several months. Proposal revisions, IRB review, and institutional and legal approval of the MOU all contribute to delays.

Join our research community

We work closely with data users and stakeholders to develop resources and data tools that best meet your needs. The E2C Hub Research Advisory Committee, with members representing diverse disciplines and perspectives, provides valuable insight that informs our work. Meetings are open to the public, and your feedback is welcome. Review notes from past meetings and plan to join us at the next one!