In January through March of 2006, the American Community Survey (ACS) conducted the first test of new and modified content since the ACS reached full implementation levels of data collection. The results of that testing helped determine the content for the 2008 ACS. The year 2008 marks the first year of a three-year aggregated data product that includes data from the same year as the 2010 decennial census (2008 - 2010). Similarly, 2008 is the midpoint year for the first five-year data product that includes data from 2010 (2006 - 2010). Given the significance of the year 2008, the ACS committed to a research program during 2006 that would assist in final content determination in time for the 2008 ACS. This research is the 2006 ACS Content Test.
Through the Interagency Committee for the ACS (co-chaired by the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau), more than thirty Federal agencies participated in the review of the ACS instrument. This lead to the formation of subcommittees that looked specifically at improving questions and response categories, and also provided input to the Census Bureau subject matter specialists and statisticians who designed the Content Test and its evaluation criteria. In general, the Content Test evaluated alternatives for questions which showed some indication of a problem, for example, high missing data rates, estimates which differed systematically from other sources of the same information, or low reliability as measured in the Census 2000 Content Reinterview survey. In addition, the Content Test also included testing of three new topics proposed by other federal agencies for inclusion in the ACS. Each of the reports in the 2006 Content Test report series provides a full description of the overall 2006 ACS Content Test as well as the topic-specific research objectives, methodology, and empirical results.
To meet the primary objective of the 2006 ACS Content Test, analysts evaluated changes to question wording, response categories, instructions, or examples relative to the current version of the questions. Additionally, the Content Test design reflected two secondary objectives. One of the secondary objectives addressed form design alternatives for the basic demographic section of the form. The second addressed the content of the questionnaire mailing package. Results indicated no interaction between either of the two secondary objectives and the first objective addressing changes made to questions. Thus, these reports only address testing specific to the first objective - testing of alternative questions, response categories, etc.
NOTE: The Census Bureau submitted the proposed 2008 ACS questionnaire and the results of the Content Test to the Office of Management and Budget in Spring 2007. The Office of Management and Budget approved the final set of questions (including changes recommended from the 2006 Content Test) for the 2008 ACS.