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Note 3: Other Surveys (2009)

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, requiring more intensive distribution in these areas. The ACS covers the U.S. resident population which includes all of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population, those incarcerated, those institutionalized, 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 starting with the year 2000. 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.


Common Core of Data (CCD)

The NCES Common Core of Data (CCD), the Department of Education's primary database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States, is a comprehensive, annual, national statistical database of information concerning all public elementary and secondary schools (approximately 97,000) 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.


Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B)

The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) was designed to provide detailed information on children's development, health, and early learning experiences in the years leading up to and including entry into school. The ECLS-B is the first nationally representative study within the United States to directly assess children's early cognitive and physical development, the quality of their early care and education settings, and the contributions of their fathers, as well as their mothers, to their lives. The children participating in the ECLS-B were followed from birth through entry into kindergarten. Information was collected from children and their parents during multiple rounds of data collection: rounds were conducted when the children were about 9 months old (2001); about 2 years old (2003); about preschool age, or about 4 years old (2005); and in kindergarten (2006-2007). Data were collected on a nationally representative sample of 14,000 children born in 2001. Their experiences are representative of the experiences of the approximately 4 million children born in the United States in 2001.

In the data collections when the children were 9 months, 2 years, and of preschool age, parents were asked about themselves, their families, and their children; fathers were asked about themselves and their roles in their children's lives; children were observed, and they participated in assessment activities. Trained assessors visited children in their homes. With the parents' permission, children participated in activities designed to measure important developmental skills in the cognitive, language, social, emotional, and physical domains. Trained assessors also conducted a computer-assisted interview with the sampled child's primary caregiver, most frequently the mother. In addition, when the children were about 2 years old and in preschool (about 4 years old), early care and education providers were asked to provide information about their own experience and training as well as information about the setting's learning environment. Providers were interviewed with the permission of the child's parents. Individuals and organizations that provide regular care for the child were interviewed. Trained staff conducted a computer-assisted interview over the phone. For home-based care settings, the primary provider was interviewed about the care setting and the sampled child's experiences there. For center-based care programs, the center director was first interviewed for general information about the program; the sampled child's primary provider in the center was then interviewed about the group care environment and the child's experiences. Child care settings were subsampled, then observed and rated.

Each variable corresponds with the year of the estimate for that variable. Estimates for 9-month-olds reflect the percentages of children representative of the given characteristic at the time of the 9-month data collection, whereas estimates for 2-year-olds reflect the percentages of children representative of the given characteristic at the time of the 2-year data collection, and estimates for 4-year-olds reflect the percentages of children representative of the given characteristic at the time of the 4-year data collection. Estimates from the 9-month wave of collection use the cross-sectional weight W1R0. Estimates from the 2-year wave of collection use the cross-sectional weight W2R0. Estimates from the preschool (4-year) wave of collection use the cross-sectional weight W3R0.

For indicator 2, family type categories were collapsed as follows: two parents (includes biological mother and biological father or biological mother and other father [step-, adoptive, foster] or biological father and other mother [step-, adoptive, foster] or two adoptive parents); single parent (includes biological mother only or biological father only or single adoptive parent or adoptive parent and stepparent); and other parent type (includes related guardian(s) or unrelated guardian(s)). "Adoptive parent and stepparent" is included in the "single parent" category because, in the ECLS-B, "single adoptive parent" and "single adoptive plus step-parent" are collapsed into one category, and in almost all cases it is only a single adoptive parent.

For indicator 3, parents participating in the ECLS-B were asked whether they currently had regular early care and education arrangements for their child, and, if so, how many hours per week their child spent in that setting. Information collected included the type of nonparental care and education in which the child spent the most hours, which was identified by the ECLS-B as the primary care arrangement. If a child spent equal time in each of two or more types of arrangements, care was coded as "multiple care arrangements." Primary type of care arrangement is the type of nonparental care in which the child spent the most hours. Children with no regular nonparental care arrangements were coded into the "no child care" category. "Regular" refers to arrangements that occurred on a routine schedule (i.e., occurring at least weekly or on some other schedule), not including occasional babysitting or "back-up" arrangements. "Relative care" refers to care provided in the child's home or in another private home by a relative (excluding parents). "Nonrelative care" refers to care provided in the child's home or in another private home by a person unrelated to the child. "Head Start" refers to services received at a public or private school, religious center, or private home, as reported by the parent. "Center-based care" refers to care provided in places such as early learning centers, nursery schools, and preschools. Information about Head Start enrollment was not obtained until the 2- and 4-year-old follow ups. For 2-year-olds, "Head Start" is included with other types of center-based care because few children were in Head Start at the time of the 2-year follow up. Separate estimates are provided for 4-year-olds enrolled in either "Head Start" or "Other center-based care."

Children, their parents, their child care providers, their teachers, and their school administrators provided information on children's cognitive, social, emotional and physical development across multiple settings (e.g., home, child care, school). A child's age at the time of the assessment may be related to certain child and family characteristics (e.g., certain groups of children may be older when assessed in a given wave). Thus, it is appropriate to analyze the ECLS-B cognitive and motor data in view of a child's age at the time of the assessment. Therefore, indicator 3. The ECLS-B assessment provides information on the probability a child would have achieved proficiency in a selected set of skills. The probabilities of proficiency are expressed as percentages.

Cognitive skills assessed at the 9-month data collection included