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Note 3: Other Surveys (2011)

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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. Annual results were 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. 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 1, 5, 6, 20, and 29 use data from the ACS. Indicator 20 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 degree or level of school was the highest they had completed. 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 101,000) 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, 3, 4, 7, 19, 27, 28, 35, 36, and 37 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 8 and 9 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 level 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 more than 6,900 institutions that participated in Title IV federal student financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants or Stafford Loans, during the corresponding academic years. 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. 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 academic year. Prior to 2007–08, colleges reported the number of first-professional degrees separate from the number of doctoral degrees. In addition, doctoral degrees were reported as a single category. In the 2008–09 academic year, institutions were required (optional in the 2007–08 academic year) to discontinue reporting first-professional degrees as a separate category and to integrate them into the master's and doctoral degrees categories; additionally, required in the 2008–09 academic year, the doctoral 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 doctoral degrees 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, data presented in The Condition of Education on completed degrees from 2007–08 onward 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 8, 9, 22, 23, 26, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44, 49, and 50 use data from IPEDS. The institutional categories used in these indicators are described in supplemental note 8. Further information about IPEDS is available at\.

Federal Student Aid Cohort Default Rate Database

The U.S Department of Education releases official cohort default rates once per year. The FY 2008 official cohort default rates, the most recent cohort default rates available, were delivered to both domestic and foreign schools on September 13, 2010.

For schools having 30 or more borrowers entering repayment in a fiscal year, the school's cohort default rate is the percentage of a school's borrowers who enter repayment on certain Federal Family Education Loans (FFELs) and/or William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans (Direct Loans) during that fiscal year and default (or meet the other specified condition) within the cohort default period. For schools with 29 or fewer borrowers entering repayment during a fiscal year, the cohort default rate is an "average rate" based on borrowers entering repayment over a 3-year period.

The phrase "cohort default period" refers to the 2-year period that begins on October 1 of the fiscal year when the borrower enters repayment and ends on September 30 of the following fiscal year. This is the period during which a borrower's default affects the school's cohort default rate.

Cohort default rates are based on federal fiscal years. Federal fiscal years begin October 1 of a calendar year and end on September 30 of the following calendar year. Each federal fiscal year refers to the calendar year in which it ends.

The phrase "cohort fiscal year" refers to the fiscal year for which the cohort default rate is calculated. For example, when calculating the 2008 cohort default rate, the cohort fiscal year is FY 2008 (October 1, 2007, to September 30, 2008).

A Federal Stafford Loan or Direct Stafford/Ford Loan enters repayment under the requirements applicable to the type of loan. In most cases, they enter repayment after a 6-month grace period that begins when the borrower separates (graduates or withdraws) from school or drops below half-time enrollment. The official repayment date is the first day following the end of the 6-month grace period. Use of this date is dependent on the school providing timely notification of any change in a student's enrollment status to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) or the data manager. If the school does not provide timely notification, the data manager will use the best information available to determine the repayment date. This date will be used for purposes of calculating the school's cohort default rate. A Federal Supplemental Loan to Students (SLS) loan enters repayment on the day after the borrower separates from school or drops below half-time enrollment, unless the borrower also has a Federal Stafford Loan that was obtained during the same period of continuous enrollment. In that event, the repayment date of the Federal SLS loan for cohort default rate purposes is the same as the repayment date for the Federal Stafford Loan; generally, this is the first day following the end of the 6-month grace period.

For cohort default rate purposes, a Direct Loan is considered to be in default after 360 days of delinquency (or after 270 days if the borrower's first day of delinquency was before October 7, 1998). If the default date falls within the cohort default period, the borrower will be included in both the denominator and the numerator of the cohort default rate calculation.

Indicator 49 uses data from the Federal Student Aid Cohort Default Rate database.

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, 11,000 graduate, and 1,000 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. Weights for NPSAS:2000 were revised to be comparable with financial aid data from NPSAS:2004 and NPSAS:2008. The revised NPSAS:2000 weights produce estimates that differ from the estimates reported in The Condition of Education 2010 . Using the revised weights has the largest effect on the estimates of average Stafford Loan amounts, and therefore on the averages of all composite financial aid variables that include Stafford loans, such as total loans, total aid, and cumulative loans. The revised weights result in some changes in the estimates for nearly all variables in NPSAS:2000, although there were only minor changes in average grant amounts.

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 controls and levels of institutions are represented, including private (both not-for-profit and for-profit) and public 4-year colleges and universities, 2-year institutions, 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 academic, 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; (5) be located in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and (6) be other than a U.S. Service Academy.

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 or who are not enrolled solely for the purpose of completing a GED or other 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


Indicator 43 reports data by dependency status. For federal financial aid purposes, all students are considered to be dependent unless they meet one of the following criteria for independence: age 24 or older; enrolled in a graduate or professional program beyond a bachelor's degree; married; orphan or ward of the court; have legal dependents other than a spouse; or on active duty or a veteran of the U.S. armed forces.

Indicators 22, 43, 46, 47, and 48 use data from NPSAS. Further information about the survey is available at

National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) is the nation's primary source of information on criminal victimization. Initiated in 1972 and redesigned in 1992, the NCVS annually collects detailed information on the frequency and nature of the crimes of rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated and simple assault, theft, household burglary, and motor vehicle theft experienced by Americans and their households each year. The survey measures crimes reported to police as well as those not reported. The NCVS sample consists of about 50,000 households. U.S. Census Bureau personnel interview all household members age 12 or older within each sampled household to determine whether they had been victimized by the measured crimes during the 6 months preceding the interview. Households remain in the sample for 3 years and are interviewed seven times at 6-month intervals. The first of these seven household interviews is used only to bind future interviews by establishing a time frame in order to avoid duplication of crimes reported in the six subsequent interviews. After their seventh interview, households are replaced by a new sample of households. Data are obtained on the frequency, characteristics, and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States. The survey enables the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to estimate the likelihood of victimization for the population as a whole, as well as for segments of the population such as women, the elderly, members of various racial groups, city dwellers, or other groups. The NCVS provides the largest national forum for victims to describe the impact of crime and the characteristics of violent offenders.

Indicator 30 uses data from NCVS. Further information about the survey is available at

Private School Universe Survey (PSS)

The Private School Universe Survey (PSS) was established in 1988 to ensure that private school data 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 4, 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.

Private schools are assigned to one of three major categories (Catholic, other religious, or nonsectarian) and, within each major category, one of three subcategories based on the school's religious affiliation provided by respondents.

  • Catholic: Catholic schools are categorized according to governance, provided by Catholic school respondents, into parochial, diocesan, and private schools.
  • Other religious: Other religious schools have a religious orientation or purpose, but are not Roman Catholic. Other religious schools are categorized according to religious association membership, provided by respondents into conservative Christian, other affiliated, and unaffiliated schools. Conservative Christian schools are those "Other religious" schools with membership in at least one of four associations: Accelerated Christian Education, American Association of Christian Schools, Association of Christian Schools International, or Oral Roberts University Education Fellowship. Affiliated schools are those "Other religious" schools not classified as Conservative Christian with membership in at least 1 of 11 associations—Association of Christian Teachers and Schools, Christian Schools International, Evangelical Lutheran Education Association, Friends Council on Education, General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Islamic School League of America, National Association of Episcopal Schools, National Christian School Association, National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, Solomon Schechter Day Schools, and Southern Baptist Association of Christian Schools—or indicating membership in "other religious school associations." Unaffiliated schools are those "Other religious" schools that have a religious orientation or purpose, but are not classified as Conservative Christian or affiliated.
  • Nonsectarian: Nonsectarian schools do not have a religious orientation or purpose and are categorized according to program emphasis, provided by respondents, into regular, special emphasis, and special education schools. Regular schools are those that have a regular elementary/secondary or early childhood program emphasis. Special emphasis schools are those that have a Montessori, vocation/technical, alternative, or special program emphasis. Special education schools are those that have a special education program emphasis.

In the most recent PSS data collection, conducted in 2009–10, the survey was sent to 40,302 institutions, with a weighted response rate of 93.6 percent.

Indicator 4 uses data from the PSS. Further information on the survey is available at

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).

Responses from each component can be linked together to provide a comprehensive perspective on the context of elementary and secondary education in the United States. 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, public charter schools have been sampled as part of the public school questionnaire.

Indicators 31 and 33 use data from SASS. The most recent SASS data collection was conducted in 2007–08. Further information about the survey is available at

The Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS)

The Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) is a component of SASS that is designed to determine how many teachers remained at the same school, moved to another school, or left the profession in the year following the SASS administration. It has been administered the year following each SASS administration since school year 1988–89. The 2008–09 TFS was administered to a subsample of SASS teachers who completed the SASS in 2007–08. Information was collected by web and paper instruments between February and August 2009.

Within TFS, there are questionnaires for teachers who left teaching since the previous SASS and another for those who are currently teaching either in the same school as the prior year or in a different school. The topics for the Current Teacher questionnaire include teaching status and assignments, ratings of various aspects of teaching, information on decisions to change schools, and ratings of various strategies for retaining more teachers. The topics for the Former Teacher questionnaire include employment status, ratings of various aspects of teaching and their current jobs, and information on decisions to leave teaching.

Indicator 32 uses data from the TFS. Further information about the survey is available at

The Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS)

The Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS), first conducted in school year 2008–09, is a component of the 2007–08 SASS. The goal of the PFS was to assess how many principals from school year 2007–08 still worked as a principal in the same school in the 2008–09 school year, how many had moved to become a principal in another school, and how many had left the principalship altogether. Another goal was to measure the percentage of principals who left to retire or seek work in another occupational field. All public, private, and BIE school principals who replied to a 2007–08 SASS principal questionnaire were included in the PFS sample. Information was collected primarily by mail, with telephone follow-up for nonrespondents from March to June 2009.

Indicator 34 uses data from the PFS. Further information about the survey is available at

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