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Sarah Crissey, Kurt Bauman, Alan Peterson
Component ID: #ti84923407

Executive Summary


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 will determine the content for the 2008 ACS. 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.

Educational Attainment

The 2006 ACS content test examined the impact of several revisions motivated by a desire to improve the clarity of the question for respondents and to improve detail on grades of schooling and secondary credentials. The changes are intended to enable the Census Bureau and the National Centerfor Education Statistics to develop more detailed, relevant and accurate profiles of the educational attainment levels of the population.

Analyses compared responses of the current ACS working to the proposed question and relate these to respondents’ answers on the follow-
up interview. The control version replicated the current ACS question. The test version modified the response categories by including a series of five headings, separating kindergarten from nursery school, and including a write in for grades 1 through 11. The test version also included separate categories for type of high school completion (high school diploma versus GED and other alternative credentials). The test version specified categorization of some college based on credits rather than years, and included the qualifier “beyond a bachelor’s degree” to the professional degree category.

The results from these analyses suggest that the test and control versions of the educational attainment question may provide slightly different estimates, but that in many cases these estimates are more reliable in the test version. The results met the primary
selection criteria of similar or better reliability of the test version, which in part explains why the distributions between the two versions are significantly different. The results also met several of the secondary selection criteria, including reliable estimates of GEDs and high school diplomas, and similar misreporting of professional degree attainment.

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