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Digest of Education Statistics: 2018
Digest of Education Statistics: 2018

NCES 2020-009
December 2019

Appendix A.2. Schools and Staffing Survey

The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) was a set of related questionnaires that collected descriptive data on the context of public and private elementary and secondary education. Data reported by districts, schools, principals, and teachers provided a variety of statistics on the condition of education in the United States that may be used by policymakers and the general public. The SASS system covered a wide range of topics, including teacher demand, teacher and principal characteristics, teachers’ and principals’ perceptions of school climate and problems in their schools, teacher and principal compensation, district hiring and reten¬tion practices, general conditions in schools, and basic characteristics of the student population.

SASS data were collected through a mail questionnaire with telephone and in-person field follow-up. SASS was conducted by the Census Bureau for NCES beginning with the first administration of the survey, which was conducted during the 1987–88 school year. Subsequent SASS administrations were conducted in 1990–91, 1993–94, 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12.

SASS was designed to produce national, regional, and state estimates for public elementary and secondary schools, school districts, principals, teachers, and school library media centers and national and regional estimates for public charter schools, as well as principals, teachers, and school library media centers within these schools. For private schools, the sample supported national, regional, and affiliation estimates for schools, principals, and teachers.

From its inception, SASS had four core components: school questionnaires, teacher questionnaires, principal questionnaires, and school district (prior to 1999–2000, “teacher demand and shortage”) questionnaires. A fifth component, school library media center questionnaires, was introduced in the 1993–94 administration and was included in every subsequent administration of SASS. School library data were also collected in the 1990–91 administration of the survey through the school and principal questionnaires.

School questionnaires used in SASS included the Public and Private School Questionnaires; teacher questionnaires included the Public and Private School Teacher Questionnaires; principal questionnaires included the Public and Private School Principal (or School Administrator) Questionnaires; and school district questionnaires included the School District (or Teacher Demand and Shortage) Questionnaires.
Although the four core questionnaires and the school library media questionnaires remained relatively stable over the various administrations of SASS, the survey was changed to accommodate emerging issues in elementary and secondary education. Some questionnaire items were added, some were deleted, and some were reworded.

During the 1990–91 SASS cycle, NCES worked with the Office of Indian Education to add an Indian School Questionnaire to SASS, and it remained a part of SASS through 2007–08. The Indian School Questionnaire explored the same school-level issues that the Public and Private School Questionnaires explored, allowing comparisons among the three types of schools. The 1990–91, 1993–94, 1999–2000, 2003–04, and 2007–08 administrations of SASS obtained data on Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools (schools funded or operated by the BIE), but the 2011–12 administration did not obtain BIE data. SASS estimates for all survey years presented in this report exclude BIE schools, and as a result, estimates in this report may differ from those in previously published reports.

School library media center questionnaires were administered in public, private, and BIE schools as part of the 1993–94 and 1999–2000 SASS. During the 2003–04 administration of SASS, only library media centers in public schools were surveyed, and in 2007–08 only library media centers in public schools and BIE and BIE-funded schools were surveyed. The 2011–12 survey collected data only on school library media centers in traditional public schools and in public charter schools. School library questions focused on facilities, services and policies, staffing, technology, informa¬tion literacy, collections and expenditures, and media equipment. New or revised topics included access to online licensed databases, resource availability, and additional elements on information literacy. The Student Records and Library Media Specialist/Librarian Questionnaires were administered only in 1993–94.

As part of the 1999–2000 SASS, the Charter School Questionnaire was sent to the universe of charter schools in operation in 1998–99. In 2003–04 and in subsequent administrations of SASS, there was no separate questionnaire for charter schools—charter schools were included in the public school sample instead. Another change in the 2003–04 administration of SASS was a revised data collection procedure using a primary in-person contact within the school intended to reduce the field follow-up phase.

The SASS teacher surveys collected information on the characteristics of teachers, such as their age, race/ethnicity, years of teaching experience, average number of hours per week spent on teaching activities, base salary, average class size, and highest degree earned. These teacher-reported data may be combined with related information on their school’s characteristics, such as school type (e.g., public traditional, public charter, Catholic, private other religious, and private nonsectarian), community type, and school enrollment size. The teacher questionnaires also asked for information on teacher opinions regarding the school and teaching environment. In 1993–94, about 53,000 public school teachers and 10,400 private school teachers were sampled. In 1999–2000, about 56,300 public school teachers, 4,400 public charter school teachers, and 10,800 private school teachers were sampled. In 2003–04, about 52,500 public school teachers and 10,000 private school teachers were sampled. In 2007–08, about 48,400 public school teachers and 8,200 private school teachers were sampled. In 2011–12, about 51,100 public school teachers and 7,100 private school teachers were sampled. Weighted overall response rates in 2011–12 were 61.8 percent for public school teachers and 50.1 percent for private school teachers.

The SASS principal surveys focused on such topics as age, race/ethnicity, sex, average annual salary, years of experience, highest degree attained, perceived influence on decisions made at the school, and hours spent per week on all school activities. These data on principals can be placed in the context of other SASS data, such as the type of the principal’s school (e.g., public traditional, public charter, Catholic, other religious, or nonsectarian), enrollment, and percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. In 2003–04, about 10,200 public school principals were sampled, and in 2007–08, about 9,800 public school principals were sampled. In 2011–12, about 11,000 public school principals and 3,000 private school principals were sampled. Weighted response rates in 2011–12 for public school principals and private school principals were 72.7 percent and 64.7 percent, respectively.

The SASS 2011–12 sample of schools was confined to the 50 states and the District of Columbia and excluded the other jurisdictions, the Department of Defense overseas schools, the BIE schools, and schools that did not offer teacher-provided classroom instruc¬tion in grades 1–12 or the ungraded equivalent. The SASS 2011–12 sample included 10,250 traditional public schools, 750 public charter schools, and 3,000 private schools.

The public school sample for the 2011–12 SASS was based on an adjusted public school universe file from the 2009–10 Common Core of Data, a database of all the nation’s public school districts and public schools. The private school sample for the 2011–12 SASS was selected from the 2009–10 Private School Universe Survey (PSS), as updated for the 2011–12 PSS. This update collected membership lists from private school associations and religious denominations, as well as private school lists from state education departments. The 2011–12 SASS private school frame was further augmented by the inclusion of additional schools that were identified through the 2009–10 PSS area frame data collection.

The NCES data product 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) Restricted-Use Data Files (NCES 2014-356) contains eight files (Public School District, Public School Principal, Public School, Public School Teacher, Public School Library Media Center, Private School Principal, Private School, and Private School Teacher) in multiple formats. It also contains a six-volume User’s Manual, which includes a codebook for each file. (Information on how to obtain a restricted-use data license is located at

Further information on SASS may be obtained from

Maura Spiegelman
Cross-Sectional Surveys Branch
Sample Surveys Division
National Center for Education Statistics
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202