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Note 3: Other Surveys (2010)

American Community Survey (ACS)

The Census Bureau introduced the American Community Survey (ACS) in 1996. Fully implemented in 2005, it provides a large monthly sample of demographic, socioeconomic, and housing data comparable in content to the Long Form of the Decennial Census. Aggregated over time, these data will serve as a replacement for the Long Form of the Decennial Census. The survey includes questions mandated by federal law, federal regulations, and court decisions.

Since 2005, the survey has been mailed to approximately 250,000 addresses in the United States and Puerto Rico each month, or about 2.5 percent of the population annually. A larger proportion of addresses in small governmental units (e.g., American Indian reservations, small counties, and towns) also receive the survey.

The monthly sample size is designed to approximate the ratio used in the 2000 Census, which requires more intensive distribution in these areas. The ACS covers the U.S. resident population, which includes the entire civilian, noninstitutionalized population; incarcerated persons; institutionalized persons; and the active duty military who are in the United States. In 2006, the ACS began interviewing residents in group quarter facilities. Institutionalized group quarters include adult and juvenile correctional facilities, nursing facilities, and other health care facilities. Noninstitutionalized group quarters include college and university housing, military barracks, and other noninstitutional facilities, such as workers and religious group quarters and temporary shelters for the homeless.

National-level data from the ACS are available from 2000 onward. Under the current timetable, annual results were or will be available for areas with populations of 65,000 or more beginning in the summer of 2006; for areas with populations of 20,000 or more in the summer of 2008; and for all areas—down to the census tract level—by the summer of 2010. This schedule is based on the time it will take to collect data from a sample size large enough to produce accurate results for different size geographic units.

Indicators 5 and 19 use data from the ACS. Indicator 19 examines the status dropout rate by looking at an ACS question in which respondents were asked whether they had attended school or college at any time in the last 3 months and what the highest degree or level of school they had completed was. The status dropout rate is the percentage of 16- through 24-year-olds surveyed by the ACS who are not enrolled in high school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or equivalency credential, such as a General Educational Development [GED] certificate). For more information on the status dropout rate, see supplemental note 6. For further details on the ACS, see

Common Core of Data (CCD)

The Common Core of Data (CCD), a program of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is the Department of Education's primary statistical database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. It is a comprehensive, annual, national database of information concerning all public elementary and secondary schools (approximately 99,000) and school districts (approximately 18,000). The database contains data that are designed to be comparable across all states. The CCD consists of five surveys that state education departments complete annually from their administrative records. The database includes a general description of schools and school districts; data on students and staff, including demographics; and fiscal data, including revenues and current expenditures.

Indicators 2, 6, 18, 24, 31, 32, 34, 35 and 36 use data from the CCD. Further information about the database is available at

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is the core program that NCES uses for collecting data on postsecondary education. IPEDS is a single, comprehensive system that encompasses all identified institutions whose primary purpose is to provide postsecondary education. Before IPEDS, some of the same information was collected through the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS). Indicators 7, 8, 23, and 44 use data from HEGIS.

IPEDS consists of institution-level data that can be used to describe trends in postsecondary education at the institution, state, and/or national levels. For example, researchers can use IPEDS to analyze information on

(1) enrollments of undergraduates, first-time freshmen, and graduate and first-professional students by race/ethnicity and sex; (2) institutional revenue and expenditure patterns by source of income and type of expense; (3) completions (awards) by type of program, level of award, race/ethnicity, and sex; (4) characteristics of postsecondary institutions, including tuition, room and board charges, and calendar systems; (5) status of career and technical education programs; and (6) other issues of interest.

Participation in IPEDS was a requirement for the 6,787 institutions that participated in Title IV federal student financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants or Stafford Loans, during the 2008–09 academic year. Title IV institutions include traditional colleges and universities, 2-year institutions, and for-profit degree- and non-degree-granting institutions (such as schools of cosmetology), among others. These categories are further disaggregated by financial control (public, private not-for-profit, and private for-profit), resulting in nine institutional categories or sectors. In addition, 84 administrative offices (central and system offices) listed in the IPEDS universe were expected to provide minimal data through a shortened version of the Institutional Characteristics component. Four of the U.S. service academies are included in the IPEDS universe as if they were Title IV institutions. Institutions that do not participate in Title IV programs may participate in the IPEDS data collection on a voluntary basis.

The structure of the IPEDS collection of data on degrees conferred changed beginning with the 2007–08 data collection. Prior to 2007–08, colleges reported the numbers of first-professional degrees separate from the number of doctor's degrees. In addition, doctor's degrees were reported as a single category. Beginning with the 2007–08 data collection, institutions were given the option (which will become mandatory in the future) to discontinue reporting first-professional degrees as a separate category and to integrate them into the master's and doctor's degrees categories; additionally, starting with the 2007–08 collection, the doctor's degrees could be reported in three different classifications: "professional practice," "research/scholarship," and "other." In order to present consistent national data over time, the data for the institutions reporting in the new structure were cross-walked to the old structure. The master's and doctor's degree awarded in fields of study classified in the Classification of Instruction Programs (CIP) as "formerly considered first-professional" were reclassified as first-professional degree awards. Therefore, the 2007–08 data on completed degrees presented in The Condition of Education may not match reported totals within other publications. The specific fields and CIP programs cross-walked in this manner were the following:

51.0401 Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)
51.1201 Medicine (M.D.)
51.1701 Optometry (O.D.)
51.1901 Osteopathic medicine (D.O.)
51.2001 Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
51.2101 Podiatry (Pod.D. or D.P.) or podiatric medicine (D.P.M.)
51.2401 Veterinary medicine (D.V.M.)
51.0101 Chiropractic (D.C. or D.C.M.)
22.0101 Law (LL.B. or J.D.)
39.0602 Theology (M. Div., M.H.L., B.D., or Ord. and M.H.L./Rav.).

Indicators 7, 8, 21, 23, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, and 49, use data from IPEDS. The institutional categories used in these indicators are described in supplemental note 9. Further information about IPEDS is available at

National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS)

The National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) is based on a nationally representative sample of all students in postsecondary education institutions, which comprises undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional students. Each NPSAS survey provides information on the cost of postsecondary education, the distribution of financial aid, and the characteristics of both aided and nonaided students and their families.

For NPSAS:2000, information on approximately 50,000 undergraduate, 9,000 graduate, and 3,000 first-professional students was obtained from more than 900 postsecondary institutions. They represented the nearly 17 million undergraduates, 2.4 million graduate students, and 300,000 first-professional students who were enrolled at some time between July 1, 1999 and June 30, 2000.

For NPSAS:04, information on approximately 80,000 undergraduates and 11,000 graduate or first-professional students was obtained from about 1,400 postsecondary institutions. These students represented nearly the 19 million undergraduate students, 3 million graduate students, and 300,000 first-professional students who were enrolled at some time between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004.

For NPSAS:08, information on approximately 114,000 undergraduate students and 14,000 graduate or first-professional students was obtained from about 1,600 postsecondary institutions. These students represented the nearly 21 million undergraduate students and 3 million graduate students who were enrolled at some time between July 1, 2007, and June 30, 2008.

NPSAS represents all undergraduate students enrolled in postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico who were eligible to participate in the federal financial aid programs in Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The survey focuses on how they and their families pay for postsecondary education and includes information on general demographics and other characteristics of these students, types of aid and amounts received, and the cost of attending college. Students attending all types and levels of institutions are represented, including private (both not-for-profit and for-profit) and public 4-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and less-than-2-year institutions.

To be eligible for inclusion in the institutional sample, an institution must satisfy the following conditions: (1) offer an education program designed for persons who have completed secondary education; (2) offer an aca-demic, occupational, or vocational program of study lasting 3 months or longer; (3) offer access to the general public; (4) offer more than just correspondence courses; and (5) be located in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Part-time and full-time students who are enrolled in academic or vocational courses or programs at these institutions and who are not concurrently enrolled in a high school completion program are eligible for inclusion in NPSAS. The first NPSAS, conducted in 1986–87, sampled students enrolled in fall 1986. Since the 1989–90 NPSAS, students who enrolled at any time during the year have been eligible for inclusion in the survey. This design change provides the opportunity to collect the data necessary for estimating full-year financial aid awards. Unless otherwise specified, all estimates in The Condition of Education using data from NPSAS include students in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Indicators 46, 47, and 48 use data from NPSAS. Further information about the survey is available at

Open Doors International Student Census

The Institute of International Education (IIE) has been conducting a survey on study abroad flows since 1985–86. For the purposes of the U.S. study abroad survey, the U.S. study abroad population is defined as U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled in a degree program at an accredited higher education institution in the United States and who received academic credit for study abroad from their home institution upon their return. Students studying abroad without receiving academic credit are not included, nor are U.S. students enrolled for a degree overseas. Hence, the figures presented here give a conservative picture of U.S. study abroad activity.

Surveys are sent to about 1,500 accredited colleges and universities throughout the United States, asking them to provide information on the number and characteristics of students to whom they awarded credit for study abroad during the previous academic year, including summer study abroad terms.

The Study Abroad Survey was made available to respondents as a downloadable document accompanied by detailed instructions and institutional codes on the Open Doors website ( The survey was administered in Spring and Summer 2009. Study abroad data was obtained from 985, or 74 percent, of the 1,341 institutions surveyed. Closed institutions and long-term nonrespondents were excluded in 2009. The response rate was the result of four mailings and four rounds of phone and e-mail follow-ups conducted by IIE, with assistance from the Education Abroad Data Collection Sub-Committee of NAFSA: Association of International Educators (formerly the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). Most institutions were able to provide detailed information on the academic and personal characteristics of their students; 98 percent of responding institutions provided data on host country destination.

Study abroad participation rates
The study abroad participation rate of students seeking a bachelor's degree is a proxy estimate of the proportion of students that receive credit for a study abroad experience at least once during their 4-year undergraduate careers. To calculate this rate, the total number of students in a bachelor's degree program who studied abroad in a given year (as reported in the Open Doors Study Abroad Survey) is divided by the average of first-time freshmen fall enrollment from the fall of the reporting year and the 3 years prior (from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System [IPEDS] and the Higher Education General Information Survey [HEGIS]). Participation rates should be considered estimates because various factors—such as students studying abroad more than once, students dropping out before graduation, and differing cohort sizes from year to year—can affect the numbers used in the calculation of the rate.

Fields of study
The fields of study used in this book are from A Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), 2000, published by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. For detailed information about CIP codes, see See also supplemental note 9.

Imputation and estimation
For Open Doors, U.S study abroad totals and the various percentages cited are calculated directly from campus-based survey responses. Other student counts are determined by IIE using imputation, since not all campuses are able to provide detailed breakdowns for variables such as place of origin and field of study. Estimates of the number of students for each of the variables collected by the various surveys are imputed from the total number of students reported. For each imputation, base or raw counts are multiplied by a correction factor that reflects the ratio of the difference between the sum of the categories being imputed and the total number of students reported by the institutions. For this reason, student totals may vary within a given year. Open Doors does not adjust further for this discrepancy, and it uses the overall academic level breakdowns, not the academic level by place of origin, as the basis for calculating changes from year to year and for analyses. In addition, due to rounding, percentages may not always add up to 100 percent (regardless of whether or not numbers are imputed).

The data collection methodology was designed to produce stable, national estimates of international education activity. Analysis for units that reflect relatively small numbers of students (such as students in certain destinations or fields of study), and especially those that are cut by other variables, may reflect greater error variation than variables with a larger response base. In addition, to account for potential instability in annual institution-level counts, estimates based on counts from the previous reporting year are sometimes used to account for non-reporting institutions who have a history of reporting to the Open Doors surveys and whose previous year's figures were not themselves estimated. While estimation refinements were made for the 2009 edition and will continue to be made for future editions, the general practice of estimating based on previous years' numbers is entirely consistent with past years' Open Doors analysis protocols.

Indicator 40 features data from the Open Doors U.S. Study Abroad Survey.

Private School Universe Survey (PSS)

The Private School Universe Survey (PSS) was established in 1988 to ensure that private school data dating back to 1890 would be collected on a regular basis. With the help of the Census Bureau, the PSS is conducted biennially to provide the total number of private schools, students, and teachers and to build a universe of private schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia that can serve as a sampling frame of private schools for NCES sample surveys.

The PSS groups elementary and secondary schools according to one of seven program emphases:

  • Regular: The PSS questionnaire does not provide a definition of this term. Regular schools do not specialize in special, vocational/technical, early childhood or alternative education and do not have a Montessori or special program emphasis, although they may offer these programs in addition to the regular curriculum.
  • Montessori: The PSS questionnaire does not provide a definition of this term. Montessori schools provide instruction using Montessori teaching methods.
  • Special program emphasis: A science/mathematics school, a performing arts high school, a foreign language immersion school, and a talented/gifted school are examples of schools that offer a special program emphasis.
  • Special education: Special education schools primarily serve students with disabilities.
  • Vocational: Vocational schools primarily serve students who are being trained for occupations. For indicator 5, vocational schools are included with special program emphasis schools.
  • Alternative: Alternative schools provide nontraditional education. They fall outside the categories of regular, Montessori, special education, early childhood, and vocational education.
  • Early childhood: Early childhood program schools serve students in prekindergarten, kindergarten, transitional (or readiness) kindergarten, and/or transitional first (or prefirst) grade.

In the most recent PSS data collection, conducted in 2007–08, the survey was sent to 39,147 private schools, with a weighted response rate of 91.1 percent.

Indicator 3 uses data from the PSS. Further information on the survey is available at

School Survey On Crime And Safety (SSOCS)

The School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) focuses on incidents of specific crimes and offenses and a variety of specific discipline issues in public schools. SSOCS was administered in the spring of the 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2005–06, and 2007–08 school years. The survey also covers characteristics of school policies, school violence prevention programs and policies, and school characteristics that have been associated with school crime. The survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of regular public primary, middle, high, and combined schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In the 2007–08 school year, a total of 3,484 schools were selected for the study. In March 2008, question-naires were mailed to school principals, who were asked to complete the survey or have it completed by the person most knowledgeable about discipline issues at the school. "At school" was defined for respondents to include activities that happen in school buildings, on school grounds, on school buses, and at places that hold school-sponsored events or activities. Respondents were instructed to provide information on the total number of recorded incidents and the number of incidents reported to the police or other law enforcement. SSOCS asks respondents about the frequency of a range of criminal incidents recorded as occurring on their school campuses. Respondents were instructed to provide information on the number of recorded incidents, not the number of victims or offenders, regardless of whether any disciplinary action was taken or whether students or nonstudents were involved. In addition to the total number of recorded incidents, respondents were asked to report how many of the recorded incidents were reported to the police or other law enforcement. In the questions pertaining to indicator 26, respondents were instructed to record incidents occurring before, during, or after normal school hours or when school activities or events were in session. Due to changes to questionnaire items between survey iterations, data may be unavailable for some survey years. A total of 2,560 schools completed the survey. For more information about SSOCS, visit

Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS)

The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) is a large sample survey of America's elementary and secondary schools. First conducted in 1987–88, SASS periodically surveys and collects data on the following:

  • public schools, collecting data on school districts, schools, principals, teachers, and library media centers;
  • private schools, collecting data on schools, principals, and teachers (and library media centers for survey years prior to 2003–04);
  • Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) funded schools, collecting data on schools, principals, teachers, and library media centers; and
  • public charter schools, collecting data on schools, principals, teachers, and library media centers.

To ensure that the samples contain sufficient numbers for estimates, SASS uses a stratified probability sample design. Public and private schools are oversampled into groups based on certain characteristics. After the schools are stratified and sampled, the teachers within the schools are stratified and sampled based on their characteristics. In 1999–2000, public charter schools became a new school sector for SASS, and questionnaires were sent to charter schools, principals and teachers. Since the 2003–04 SASS, a sample of public charter schools has been included in the sample as part of the public school questionnaire.

The 2007–08 SASS district questionnaire contained an item asking districts whether they offer financial incentives such as cash bonuses, salary increases, or different steps on the salary scale for four different purposes: obtaining National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification (NBPTS), rewarding excellence in teaching, recruiting or retaining teachers to teach in less desirable locations, and recruiting or retaining teachers to teach in fields with shortages. For indicator 37, the 2007–08 SASS district data file was linked to the 2007–08 SASS teacher data file in order to calculate the estimates of percentages of teachers who work in districts offering incentives for the various purposes. In some cases, charter schools are associated with regular public districts, while others operate independently. The analysis on pay incentives (indicator 37) uses district-level policy information and therefore does not include teachers from charter schools.

Indicators 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 37 use data from the SASS. Further information about the survey is available at

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