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User's Manual:

1993-94 Schools and Staffing Survey: Data File User's Manual: Volume I: Survey Documentation

October 1996

(NCES 96-142) Ordering information


A. Background

In the early 1980s, education policymakers became increasingly aware of the need for studies that would provide national data on public and private schools, their programs, teachers, and staffing levels. Such data would inform policymakers about the status of teaching and education, identify the areas that most need improvement, and clarify conflicting reports on issues related to policy initiatives, such as teacher shortages.

The first attempt to address these concerns was a series of surveys that began in 1983 and included:

  • The Survey of Teacher Demand and Shortage, which was conducted in 1983-84 among public and private schools and included questions on teacher demand and incentive plans for teachers.
  • The Public School Survey - School Questionnaire, conducted in 1984-85 to provide descriptive information about public schools (e.g., enrollment and number of teachers), as well as data on use of teacher incentive plans, volunteers and computers.
  • The National Survey of Private Schools - School Questionnaire, conducted in 1985-86 to provide parallel information about private schools.
  • The Public School Survey - Teacher Questionnaire, conducted in 1984-85 to provide information about teacher characteristics, qualifications, incentives, and opinions concerning policy issues.
  • The National Survey of Private Schools - Teacher Questionnaire, conducted in 1985-1986 to provide parallel information about private school teachers.

Because of problems of methodology and substance within these surveys and the increasing demands for more and better education data, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) initiated a redesign of its elementary/secondary education surveys in 1985. This redesign began with an evaluation of the then-current data system; opinions and advice were solicited from the education policy and research community on matters of context, methodology and analytic utility. In late 1985, NCES reported the findings of this evaluation under the heading of Excellence in Schools Surveys and Analysis Study, which has become a continuing series and has been renamed the Schools and Staffing Surveys Project.

In response to concern expressed in the evaluation about the paucity of information on schooling, the NCES expanded the purposes of their earlier surveys. These expansions were also responses to conflicting reports of teacher shortages and to increasing public concern about the status of teaching and schools in general.

Under a contract with the NCES, the Rand Corporation redesigned the elementary/secondary education surveys to collect information relevant to their expanded purposes and to correct the methodological difficulties affecting the surveys. The outcome of that effort was a set of concurrent and integrated surveys called the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), which was designed to provide a composite national snapshot of America's public and private schools. Also, in order to increase response rates and to maintain consistency in procedures across components of the SASS, the NCES selected the Bureau of the Census to collect and process the data for all parts of the survey.

The SASS was first conducted by the Bureau of the Census during the 1987-88 school year, and again in 1990-91 and 1993-94. The 1993-94 SASS was expanded to include a student survey, in which information about students was taken from school administrative records, and the Library Survey, which collected data on school libraries and librarians. The 1993-94 SASS provides data on public school districts (local education agencies), schools (public, private, and BIA), principals, teachers, students, libraries and librarians for use by educators, researchers, and policymakers.

B. Purpose and Content of the Survey

The overall objective of the SASS is to collect the information necessary for a complete picture of American elementary and secondary education. The abundance of data collected permits detailed analyses of the characteristics of schools, principals, teachers, and students. The linkage of the SASS components enables researchers to examine the relationships among these elements of education.

The 1993-94 SASS consisted of seven components administered simultaneously for linked sample units - local education agencies (LEAs), schools, principals, teachers, libraries, librarians, and students. The eighth component is the Teacher Followup Survey (TFS), which is conducted a year after the SASS and provides additional information about job mobility within the teaching profession and between teaching and other careers.

1. Teacher Demand and Shortage Questionnaire for Public School Districts (Form SASS-1-A)

The purpose of the Teacher Demand and Shortage Questionnaire is to obtain data from local education agencies (LEAs) that can be used to measure the supply and demand for public school teachers and to examine policies that may influence teacher supply and demand, e.g., salary, retirement plans, and incentive plans.

The 1993-94 questionnaire had these five sections:

Section A - Enrollment Information obtained counts of students by grade level and race, the number of days in the school year, and data on the release of results from standardized tests.

Section B - Teachers collected full-time equivalent (FTE) counts of all teachers employed by the LEA, certified teachers, itinerant teachers, newly hired teachers, teachers laid off at the end of the previous school year, vacant teaching positions, and abolished teaching positions. Also obtained were head counts of teachers by race and the criteria used by the LEA in considering applicants for teaching positions.

Section C - Library Media Specialists/Librarians collected full-time equivalent (FTE) counts of librarians employed by the LEA, vacant librarian positions, abolished librarian positions, and librarians laid off at the end of the last school year.

Section D - Programs and Services obtained data on prekindergarten programs, Chapter 1 services, participation in the National School Lunch program, and enrollment choice programs.

Section E - District Policies obtained information on high school graduation requirements, drug abuse prevention and discipline policies, teacher salaries, teacher retirement plans, teacher incentive plans, and staff training programs.

2. School Principal Questionnaires (Forms SASS-2A, SASS-2B, and SASS-2C)

The purpose of the School Principal Questionnaires is to obtain information about the training, experience, professional background, and demographic characteristics of school principals and about the types of school problems that principals view as serious.

The 1993-94 questionnaires were mailed to principals of public schools (SASS-2A), private schools (SASS-2B), and schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (SASS-2C). The collected data included year of birth, gender, race, college degrees, teaching experience, years of experience as a school principal, salary, and benefits. There were also questions about problems the principals considered to be serious and their perceptions of their influence on school policies.

3. School Questionnaires (Forms SASS-3A, SASS-3B, and SASS-3C)

The purpose of the School Questionnaires is to collect information on the characteristics of schools, e.g., enrollment, student-staff ratios, programs and services offered, and length of school day.

For the 1993-94 SASS, there were three school questionnaires - the Public School Questionnaire (SASS-3A), the Private School Questionnaire (SASS-3B), and the Indian School Questionnaire (SASS-3C, for schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs). All three collected these data: enrollment by grade level, students by race, number of male students, number of absent students on most recent school day, admission requirements, type of school, number and types of staff, number of teachers by race, number of absent teachers, teaching vacancies, programs and services offered (magnet programs, Chapter 1 services, National School Lunch Program, remedial reading, remedial math, programs for students with disabilities, programs for gifted and talented students, day care, English as a Second Language, bilingual education, diagnostic and prescriptive services, health care services, library, prekindergarten programs, alcohol or drug use prevention programs and counseling), and for high schools, the number of 1993 graduates and the number of 1993 graduates who applied to colleges.

In addition, the Private School Questionnaire and the Indian School Questionnaire obtained data on teacher supply and demand, teacher salaries, and high school graduation requirements for private schools and for Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools. (This information is comparable to that collected at the district level for public schools by means of the Teacher Demand and Shortage Questionnaire (SASS-1A).

The Private School Questionnaire also collected religious affiliation, membership in private school associations, tuition, and the year that the school was founded.

4. Teacher Questionnaires (Forms SASS-4A, SASS-4B, and SASS-4C)

The purpose of the Teacher Questionnaires is to collect data that can be used to describe America's teachers - their demographic characteristics, education, experience, and teaching assignments, as well as their perceptions and attitudes about workplace conditions, their jobs, and teaching in general. This information can be used in analyses of how these factors affect movement into and out of the teaching profession.

The 1993-94 questionnaires had these nine sections:

Section A - Current Teaching Status collected information on whether the respondent was a full-time or part-time teacher, his/her other duties at the school, and jobs or activities outside the school.

Section B - Teaching Experience obtained the year of first teaching position, main activity before becoming a teacher, years of teaching experience, number of breaks in teaching career, and the year he/she began teaching in current school.

Section C - Teacher Training collected data on college degrees, teaching assignment fields, certification, fields that respondent felt best qualified to teach, college courses in math and science, participation in in-service training, membership in teachers' union, and participation in programs for beginning teachers.

Section D - Current Teaching Load obtained information on grade levels taught, type of classes, number of classes, number of students, subjects taught, and number of hours per week spent on job and job-related activities.

Section E - Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Teaching collected data on the respondent's attitudes and perceptions about his/her current teaching job and toward teaching in general.

Section F - Future Plans consisted of questions on retirement eligibility, how long respondent planned to remain in teaching, and career plans for the following school year.

Section G - Incentives and Compensation obtained data on teaching salary, benefits, and other earned income.

Section H - Background Information collected data on gender, race, age, marital status, number of dependents, and family income.

Section I - Limited English Proficient Students asked about limited English proficient students in the respondent's classes.

5. Student Records Questionnaire (SASS-5)

The purpose of this component of SASS is to collect data that can be used to examine the distribution of school programs and quality teachers among students of differing demographic and academic characteristics and to describe the participation of students in school programs and services.

The data for the Student Records Questionnaire were collected from public schools, private schools, and schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The schools were asked to provide information from their administrative records for selected students. This information included gender, date of birth, race, country of birth, language spoken at home, grade level, participation in programs and services, GPA, and attendance record.

6. Library Media Center Questionnaires (Forms LS-1A), LS-1B, and LS-1C)

The data from the Library Media Center Questionnaires provide a national picture of school libraries and permit assessment of the adequacy of school libraries to meet the needs of students and staff.

The 1993-94 questionnaires were sent to public, private, and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and had these five sections:

Section A - Library Media Center Staffing obtained counts of certified library media specialists, professional staff members who were not certified as library media specialists, and other paid library staff by full-time/part-time status. Also obtained were data on college degrees held by professional staff members, number of adult and student volunteers in the library, and, for private schools, counts of staff members who worked on a contributed service basis.

Section B - 1992-93 Collection and Expenditures obtained data for the 1992-93 school year on materials in the library's collection (books, subscriptions, audio-visual materials, computer software, and CD-ROM), acquisitions, expenditures, and adequacy of the collection for the school's needs.

Section C - Technology collected information on technical equipment and services available in the school library or elsewhere in the school, e.g., computers, automated catalog, online database searching, cable television, and distance learning.

Section D - Library Media Center Facilities contained questions on the seating capacity of the library and the types of spaces available in the library, e.g., individual reading space, conference rooms, storage, workrooms, and space for group activities.

Section E - Scheduling and Transactions obtained information about use of the library - how classes were scheduled, when students could check out materials, how many students used the library in a week, types and number of materials that could be checked out by students, etc.

7. Library Media Specialist/Librarian Questionnaires (Forms LS-2A, LS-2B, LS-2C)

The purpose of these questionnaires is to obtain data that can be used to describe school librarians - their educational background, work experience, and demographic characteristics, as well as their duties, salary, workload, and attitudes about their current position and their profession. Because much of the collected information is comparable to that obtained on the Teacher Questionnaires, comparisons between librarians and classroom teachers can be made.

The 1993-94 questionnaires were mailed to the librarians at public, private, and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and had these seven sections:

Section A - Current Status obtained information about the librarian's current position - whether full-time or part-time, whether he/she also was a classroom teacher, other assignments at the school, and main activity outside the school.

Section B - Experience had questions on year of first school librarian position, main activity before becoming a school librarian, and years of experience as a school librarian.

Section C - Training collected data on college degrees, participation in in-service training, and certification.

Section D - Collaborative Activities had questions on how often the librarian worked with classroom teachers, number of extra hours worked each week, and other duties at the school (e.g., cafeteria duty, study hall, playground duty).

Section E - Perceptions and Attitudes Toward Work obtained data on how the respondent felt about his/her current position and about the profession in general.

Section F - Compensation obtained information on the respondent's salary, other earned income, benefits, and family income.

Section G - Background Information obtained data on the librarian's gender, race, year of birth, marital status, and number of dependents.

8. The Teacher Follow-up Survey (Form TFS-2 (Leavers) and Form TFS-3 (Stayers)

This survey is a followup of selected teachers from the SASS Teacher Survey and is conducted in the school year following SASS (i.e., 1988-89, 1991-92, 1994-95). The sample consists of all interviewed SASS teachers who left teaching within the year after SASS (leavers) and a subsample of those who remained in teaching (stayers). The major objectives of this survey are to measure the attrition rate for teachers, examine the characteristics of those who stay in the teaching profession and those who leave, obtain activity or occupation data for those who leave the teaching profession, and collect data on attitudes about the teaching profession and job satisfaction.

C. Target Population and Estimates

1. Target Populations

The target populations for 1993-94 SASS were:

  • Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that employ elementary and/or secondary level teachers, e.g., public school districts, state agencies that operate schools for special student populations (such as inmates of juvenile correctional facilities), and cooperative agencies that provide special services to more than one school district;
  • Public, private, and BIA schools with students in any of grades 1–12;
  • Principals of those schools, as well as libraries and librarians;
  • Teachers in public, private, and BIA schools who teach students in grades K-12;
  • Students taught by those teachers.

The 1991-92 Common Core of Data (CCD) served as the sampling frame for the public schools. The population of public schools was drawn from the frame population for the 1991-92 school year. The LEAs operating the selected sample schools were also selected.

The population of private schools included schools that existed during the 1991-92 school year. The sample was drawn from the list of schools used for the 1991-92 Private Schools Survey (see section IV, "Sample Design and Implementation," for a description of that operation). Schools added to the 1993-94 Private School Survey during the affiliation list updating operation were also included.

For the BIA frame, the Bureau of Indian Affairs provided a list of all elementary, secondary, and combined schools that they operated or funded. All of these schools were included in the SASS sample.

The population of teachers included teachers who were employed by the public, private, and BIA schools described above during the fall of 1993. The sample of teachers was selected from a list of all teachers who taught students in grades K-12 for each school in sample.

The population of students included anyone in grades K-12 who was taught by a teacher described above during the fall of 1993. The sample of students was selected from class rosters obtained for sampled class periods from a subsample of the total sample teachers. Teachers were subsampled from public, private, and BIA schools.

2. Estimates

The SASS was designed to support estimates at both the state and national level for the public sector, and at the national and association level for the private sector. The association groups for private schools were:

  • Association of American Military Colleges and Schools
  • Catholic
  • Friends
  • Episcopal
  • National Society for Hebrew Day Schools
  • Solomon Schechter Day Schools
  • Other Jewish schools
  • Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Synod
  • Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches or Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Other Lutheran schools
  • Seventh-Day Adventist
  • Christian Schools International
  • Association of Christian Schools International
  • National Association of Private Schools for Exceptional Children
  • American Montessori Society or other Montessori associations
  • National Association of Independent Schools
  • National Independent Private School Association
  • All others

Comparisons between public and private schools are only possible at the national level, because private schools are selected for sampling by association group and not by geographic location, such as state.

Due to measures taken to protect the confidentiality of individual schools, state names are not available on the public-use data tapes, and affiliation identification for private schools has been recoded to a 9-level typology. Therefore, estimates from the public-use tapes will be possible for the 9-level typology for the private sector, and only for Census region for the public sector. The exception to this rule is the Teacher Demand and Shortage (TDS) data tape, where each LEA's FIPS state code and Census region designation have been left on the tape for analysis, but the piece that has this information is not linkable to the pieces on the public use tape. (Some detailed affiliation codes have been deleted from or collapsed on the public-use data tapes to protect the confidentiality of individual responses.)

The teacher survey was designed to support comparisons between new and experienced teachers. Comparisons between bilingual and nonbilingual teachers are possible at the national level. The library and librarian surveys were designed to produce estimates at the state level for public schools and at the major affiliation level (Catholic, other religious, nonsectarian) for private schools. The student survey was designed to produce estimates at the national level for public, private, and BIA school students.

D. Periodicity of the Survey

The first three rounds of SASS were conducted three years apart; future rounds are planned at 5-year intervals.

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