The School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) is the only recurring federal survey that collects detailed information on the incidence, frequency, seriousness, and nature of violence affecting students and school personnel, as well as other indicators of school safety from the schools’ perspective. SSOCS is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education and collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Data from this collection can be used to examine the relationship between school characteristics and violent and serious violent crimes in primary, middle, high, and combined schools. In addition, data from SSOCS can be used to assess what crime prevention programs, practices, and policies are used by schools. SSOCS has been conducted in school years 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2015–16, and 2017–18.
The sampling frame for SSOCS:2016 was constructed from the 2013–14 Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe data file of the Common Core of Data (CCD), an annual collection of data on all public K–12 schools and school districts. The SSOCS sampling frame was restricted to regular public schools (including charter schools) in the United States and the District of Columbia. Other types of schools from the CCD Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe file were excluded from the SSOCS sampling frame. For instance, schools in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Department of Defense dependents schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools, were excluded. Also excluded were special education, alternative, vocational, virtual, newly closed, ungraded, and home schools, and schools with the highest grade of kindergarten or lower.
The SSOCS:2016 universe totaled 83,600 schools. From this total, 3,553 schools were selected for participation in the survey. The sample was stratified by instructional level, type of locale (urbanicity), and enrollment size. The sample of schools in each instructional level was allocated to each of the 16 cells formed by the cross-classification of the four categories of enrollment size and four types of locale. The target number of responding schools allocated to each of the 16 cells was proportional to the sum of the square roots of the total student enrollment over all schools in the cell. The target respondent count within each stratum was then inflated to account for anticipated nonresponse; this inflated count was the sample size for the stratum.
Data collection began in February 2016 and ended in early July 2016. Questionnaire packets were mailed to the principals of the sampled schools, who were asked to complete the survey or have it completed by the person at the school who is most knowledgeable about school crime and policies for providing a safe school environment. A total of 2,092 public schools submitted usable questionnaires, resulting in an overall weighted unit response rate of 62.9 percent.
Further information about SSOCS may be obtained from
Cross-Sectional Surveys Branch
Sample Surveys Division
National Center for Education Statistics
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202