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Strand 4: Household Study on Education, Training, and Credentials for Work

GEMEnA's fourth strand of work is to support NCES in the development of a new household study on education, training, and credentials for work. This strand of work is proceeding in two stages. First, NCES is evaluating the feasibility of using a mail-out methodology to conduct a household survey on education, training, and credentials for work. Second, assuming the mail-out methodology proves feasible, NCES will proceed with planning for a full-scale household data collection.

Due to growing problems reaching survey respondents by telephone, NCES has recently shifted its household data collection program from a telephone-based to a mail-based collection. The mail-based methodology has been found to yield acceptable response rates for surveys asking about children's education, but is untested for surveys asking adults about their own education and training. Thus, the first stage in this strand is to determine whether this methodology is feasible for such a survey. For this purpose, GEMEnA has developed the National Adult Training and Education Survey (NATES) questionnaire. The NATES collects in-depth information on credentials related to work—including formal educational attainment, industry-recognized certifications, occupational licenses, and formal apprenticeships—based in part on the developmental work in strands 1 and 2. It also collects detailed information about the education and training in which adults participate to acquire the skills and knowledge needed for jobs, based on the developmental work in strand 3. Finally, the NATES includes a set of employment and demographic items derived in part from strand 1-3 work and in part from existing Census Bureau data collections. Because the question-development work in stands 1-3 has not been completed, this initial version of the NATES instrument includes many test and placeholder questions, but the overall instrument is designed to approximate the structure, content, and length expected for a final household survey on adults' education, training, and credentials for work.

This NATES questionnaire will be used in a pilot test of the mail-out methodology to be conducted 2013. The NATES pilot study will examine response rates at both the unit and item level and includes a nonresponse bias study based on in-person interviews with a sample of nonrespondents. On behalf of NCES, the Census Bureau is conducting the data collection, surveying a sample of adults ages 16 to 65 in approximately 10,000 households.

If response rates on the NATES pilot test are acceptable (and pending availability of funds), NCES could field a production NATES in the near future. The production version of the NATES questionnaire would be developed after completion of all work in strands 1-3, so that it could incorporate the lessons learned from all of GEMEnA's work; it would provide the synthesis and culmination of these work strands, and would initiate a new federal data collection to meet pressing research and policy data needs.

The schedule for the NATES pilot study is:

Questionnaire development Feb. 2012 – Dec. 2012
Main data collection Jan. 2013 – May 2013
Nonresponse follow-up May 2012 – Aug. 2013
Methodology report Nov. 2013