The National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) is a data collection system that is designed to address a wide range of education-related issues. Surveys have been conducted in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2012, and 2016. NHES targets specific populations for detailed data collection. It is intended to provide more detailed data on the topics and populations of interest than are collected through supplements to other household surveys.
The 2007 and earlier administrations of NHES used a random-digit-dial sample of landline phones and computer-assisted telephone interviewing to conduct interviews. However, due to declining response rates for all telephone surveys and the increase in households that only or mostly use a cell phone instead of a landline, the data collection method was changed to an address-based sample survey for NHES:2012. Because of this change in survey mode, readers should use caution when comparing NHES:2012 estimates to those of prior NHES administrations.
The topics addressed by NHES:1991 were early childhood education and adult education. About 60,000 households were screened for NHES:1991. In the Early Childhood Education Survey, about 14,000 parents/guardians of 3- to 8-year-olds completed interviews about their children’s early educational experiences. Included in this component were participation in nonparental care/education; care arrangements and school; and family, household, and child characteristics. In the NHES:1991 Adult Education Survey, about 9,800 people 16 years of age and over, identified as having participated in an adult education activity in the previous 12 months, were questioned about their activities. Data were collected on programs and up to four courses, including the subject matter, duration, sponsorship, purpose, and cost. Information on the household and the adult’s background and current employment was also collected.
In NHES:1993, nearly 64,000 households were screened. Approximately 11,000 parents of 3- to 7-year-olds completed interviews for the School Readiness Survey. Topics included the developmental characteristics of preschoolers; school adjustment and teacher feedback to parents for kindergartners and primary students; center-based program participation; early school experiences; home activities with family members; and health status. In the School Safety and Discipline Survey, about 12,700 parents of children in grades 3 to 12 and about 6,500 youth in grades 6 to 12 were interviewed about their school experiences. Topics included the school learning environment, discipline policy, safety at school, victimization, the availability and use of alcohol/drugs, and alcohol/drug education. Peer norms for behavior in school and substance use were also included in this topical component. Extensive family and household background information was collected, as well as characteristics of the school attended by the child.
In NHES:1995, the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey and the Adult Education Survey were similar to those fielded in 1991. In the Early Childhood component, about 14,000 parents of children from birth to 3rd grade were interviewed out of 16,000 sampled, for a completion rate of 90.4 percent. In the Adult Education Survey, about 24,000 adults were sampled and 82.3 percent (20,000) completed the interview.
NHES:1996 covered parent and family involvement in education and civic involvement. Data on homeschooling and school choice also were collected. The 1996 survey screened about 56,000 households. For the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey, nearly 21,000 parents of children in grades 3 to 12 were interviewed. For the Civic Involvement Survey, about 8,000 youth in grades 6 to 12, about 9,000 parents, and about 2,000 adults were interviewed. The 1996 survey also addressed public library use. Adults in almost 55,000 households were interviewed to support state-level estimates of household public library use.
NHES:1999 collected end-of-decade estimates of key indicators from the surveys conducted throughout the 1990s. Approximately 60,000 households were screened for a total of about 31,000 interviews with parents of children from birth through grade 12 (including about 6,900 infants, toddlers, and preschoolers) and adults age 16 or older not enrolled in grade 12 or below. Key indicators included participation of children in nonparental care and early childhood programs, school experiences, parent/family involvement in education at home and at school, youth community service activities, plans for future education, and adult participation in educational activities and community service.
NHES:2001 included two surveys that were largely repeats of similar surveys included in earlier NHES collections. The Early Childhood Program Participation Survey was similar in content to the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey fielded as part of NHES:1995, and the Adult Education and Lifelong Learning Survey was similar in content to the Adult Education Survey of NHES:1995. The Before- and After-School Programs and Activities Survey, while containing items fielded in earlier NHES collections, had a number of new items that collected information about what school-age children were doing during the time they spent in child care or in other activities, what parents were looking for in care arrangements and activities, and parent evaluations of care arrangements and activities. Parents of approximately 6,700 children from birth through age 6 who were not yet in kindergarten completed Early Childhood Program Participation Survey interviews. Nearly 10,900 adults completed Adult Education and Lifelong Learning Survey interviews, and parents of nearly 9,600 children in kindergarten through grade 8 completed Before- and After-School Programs and Activities Survey interviews.
NHES:2003 included two surveys: the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey and the Adult Education for Work-Related Reasons Survey (the first administration). Whereas previous adult education surveys were more general in scope, this survey had a narrower focus on occupation-related adult education programs. It collected in-depth information about training and education in which adults participated specifically for work-related reasons, either to prepare for work or a career or to maintain or improve work-related skills and knowledge they already had. The Parent and Family Involvement Survey expanded on the first survey fielded on this topic in 1996. In 2003, screeners were completed with 32,050 households. About 12,700 of the 16,000 sampled adults completed the Adult Education for Work-Related Reasons Survey, for a weighted response rate of 76 percent. For the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey, interviews were completed by the parents of about 12,400 of the 14,900 sampled children in kindergarten through grade 12, yielding a weighted unit response rate of 83 percent.
NHES:2005 included surveys that covered adult education, early childhood program participation, and after-school programs and activities. Data were collected from about 8,900 adults for the Adult Education Survey, from parents of about 7,200 children for the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey, and from parents of nearly 11,700 children for the After-School Programs and Activities Survey. These surveys were substantially similar to the surveys conducted in 2001, with the exceptions that the Adult Education Survey addressed a new topic—informal learning activities for personal interest—and the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey and After-School Programs and Activities Survey did not collect information about before-school care for school-age children.
NHES:2007 fielded the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey and the School Readiness Survey. These surveys were similar in design and content to surveys included in the 2003 and 1993 collections, respectively. New features added to the Parent and Family Involvement Survey were questions about supplemental education services provided by schools and school districts (including use of and satisfaction with such services), as well as questions that would efficiently identify the school attended by the sampled students. New features added to the School Readiness Survey were questions that collected details about TV programs watched by the sampled children. For the Parent and Family Involvement Survey, interviews were completed with parents of 10,680 sampled children in kindergarten through grade 12, including 10,370 students enrolled in public or private schools and 310 homeschooled children. For the School Readiness Survey, interviews were completed with parents of 2,630 sampled children ages 3 to 6 and not yet in kindergarten. Parents who were interviewed about children in kindergarten through 2nd grade for the Parent and Family Involvement Survey were also asked some questions about these children’s school readiness.
NHES:2012 included the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey and the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey. The Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey gathered data on students age 20 or younger who were enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 or who were homeschooled at equivalent grade levels. Survey questions that pertained to students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 requested information on various aspects of parent involvement in education (such as help with homework, family activities, and parent involvement at school) and survey questions pertaining to homeschooled students requested information on the student’s homeschooling experiences, the sources of the curriculum, and the reasons for homeschooling.
The 2012 Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey questionnaires were completed for 17,563 (397 homeschooled and 17,166 enrolled) children, for a weighted unit response rate of 78.4 percent. The overall estimated unit response rate (the product of the screener unit response rate of 73.8 percent and the Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey unit response rate) was 57.8 percent.
The 2012 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey collected data on the early care and education arrangements and early learning of children from birth through the age of 5 who were not yet enrolled in kindergarten. Questionnaires were completed for 7,893 children, for a weighted unit response rate of 78.7 percent. The overall estimated weighted unit response rate (the product of the screener weighted unit response rate of 73.8 percent and the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey unit weighted response rate) was 58.1 percent.
NHES:2016 used a nationally representative address-based sample covering the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The 2016 administration of NHES included a screener survey and three topical surveys: The Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey, the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey, and the Adult Training and Education Survey. The screener survey questionnaire identified households with children under age 20 and adults ages 16 to 65. A total of 206,000 households were selected based on this screener, and the screener response rate was 66.4 percent. All sampled households received initial contact by mail. Although the majority of respondents completed paper questionnaires, a small sample of cases was part of a web experiment with mailed invitations to complete the survey online.
The 2016 Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey, like its predecessor in 2012, gathered data about students age 20 or under who were enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12 or who were being homeschooled for the equivalent grades. The 2016 survey’s questions also covered aspects of parental involvement in education similar to those in the 2012 survey. The total number of completed questionnaires in the 2016 survey was 14,075 (13,523 enrolled and 552 homeschooled children), representing a population of 53.2 million students either homeschooled or enrolled in a public or private school in 2015–16. The survey’s weighted unit response rate was 74.3 percent, and the overall response rate was 49.3 percent.
The 2016 Early Childhood Program Participation Survey collected data about children from birth through age 6 who were not yet enrolled in kindergarten. The survey asked about children’s participation in relative care, nonrelative care, and center-based care arrangements. It also requested information such as the main reason for choosing care, factors that were important to parents when choosing a care arrangement, the primary barriers to finding satisfactory care, activities the family does with the child, and what the child is learning. Questionnaires were completed for 5,844 children, representing a population of 21.4 million children from birth through age 6 who were not yet enrolled in kindergarten. The Early Childhood Program Participation Survey weighted unit response rate was 73.4 percent, and the overall estimated weighted unit response rate (the product of the screener weighted unit response rate and the Early Childhood Program Participation Survey weighted unit response rate) was 48.7 percent.
The third topical survey of NHES:2016 was a new NHES survey, the Adult Training and Education Survey. The survey collected information from noninstitutionalized adults ages 16 to 65 not enrolled in high school—it also collected information from adults living at residential addresses associated with educational institutions such as colleges (thus, it collected information from enrolled college students). One of the main goals of the Adult Training and Education Survey is to capture the prevalence of nondegree credentials, including estimates of adults with occupational certifications or licenses, as well as to capture the prevalence of postsecondary educational certificates. A further goal is to learn more about work experience programs. The survey’s data, when weighted, were nationally representative of noninstitutionalized adults ages 16 to 65, not enrolled in grades 12 or below. The total number of completed questionnaires was 47,744, representing a population of 196.3 million. The survey had a weighted response rate of 73.1 percent and an overall response rate of 48.5 percent.
Data for the three topical surveys in the 2016 administration of NHES are available in Parent and Family Involvement in Education: Results From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016 (NCES 2017-102); Early Childhood Program Participation, Results From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016 (NCES 2017-101); and Adult Training and Education: Results From the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016 (NCES 2017-103rev). In addition, public-use data for the three 2016 surveys are available at https://nces.ed.gov/nhes/dataproducts.asp.
Further information on NHES may be obtained from
Sample Surveys Division
National Center for Education Statistics
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202