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School Pulse Panel


The School Pulse Panel (SPP) is a study sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), within the United States Department of Education. During the 2021-22 school year, SPP collected extensive data on issues concerning the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and staff in U.S. public primary, middle, high, and combined-grade schools. Starting in the 2023-24 school year, SPP will expand scope and ask about various topics that support SPP stakeholder needs. The U.S. Census Bureau conducts the School Pulse Panel on behalf of the NCES.

Beginning in August 2023 and continuing through June 2024, the monthly survey will ask sampled school principals about different topics each month such as:

  • Information on staffing,
  • After-school programs,
  • Learning recovery strategies,
  • Tutoring, world language, and school meal programs,
  • Student and staff mental health,
  • School building facilities, and
  • Transportation

The link below details the December instrument content. Invitations to the December 2023 survey will be distributed on December 7 and the survey will be open through December 21.

School Pulse Panel: December Instrument

For more details on the methodology and content for the 2023-24 SPP, please refer to the Federal Register notice for the request for public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-07239

Survey instruments administered during the 2021-22 school year can be found here: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/spp/survey-questions.asp

School Pulse Panel: FAQ Brochure

Why is the survey important?

The School Pulse Panel is one of the nation’s few sources of real-time, quick turnaround data on a wealth of information focused on student and staff experiences in the school environment, as reported by principals in U.S. public schools. The data collected in this survey will help to inform policy and funding discussions.

How easy is it to participate?

Each monthly survey is designed to take no more than 30 minutes to complete. NCES surveyed sampled schools from the 2021-22 panel about their experiences as a participant. Eighty-four percent reported that it was "easy" or "very easy" to participate in SPP. Ninety-five percent reported that the data collection window of two weeks was enough time to complete the survey and 98 percent thought the overall investment of their time to participate was reasonable.

Types of schools in the SPP

The sampling list for the School Pulse Panel is derived from the Common Core of Data (CCD), the universe of public schools supplied annually by state educational agencies to NCES. Only public schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia will be included in the School Pulse Panel sample. Newly closed schools, correctional facilities/juvenile justice schools, home schools , and schools with high grades of kindergarten or lower are excluded. Regular public schools, charter schools, alternative schools, special education schools, ungraded schools, vocational schools, virtual schools, and schools that have partial or total magnet programs are included. 

In addition to the sample, all schools from designated U.S. Outlying Areas, including Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, that meet the SPP eligibility requirements will be invited to participate in the Panel.

Why was my school selected to be in the survey?

From all the public schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, we selected a random stratified sample of about 4,000 U.S. public schools. The sample is designed to provide national estimates of primary, middle/combined, and high schools. Your school happened to be one of those selected.

Your responses will represent schools with similar characteristics that were not selected for the survey.

All public schools in the designated U.S. Outlying Areas that met the SPP eligibility requirements were invited to participate in the 2021-22 Panel beginning in August 2022. These schools will also be invited to participate in the 2023-24 Panel.

How can schools respond to this survey?

Public schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia will receive a mailed invitation and an email invitation to respond to the survey with a survey link and username and password specific to the school invited to participate in the survey. Public schools in the designated U.S. Outlying Areas will receive an email invitation only.  The School Pulse Panel can be completed online using a web-based survey platform. Given the variety of topics assessed, we encourage you to work together with other school and district staff members to complete the survey for your school. There are two ways that you can share the survey with other staff members:

  • Survey Link: you can forward the survey link and log-in information you receive and allow other staff members at your school or staff in your district to respond online for your school. Please note that when other staff members access the survey, they will be brought to the introduction page; when you send the link to others, be sure to include which specific questions you want them to answer. These questions are numbered and can be easily accessed using the table of contents, found at the top of each survey page. 
  • PDF: you can share the PDF version of the survey and allow staff members at your school or in your district to record and compile their answers for your school on the PDF. Any answers on the PDF would then be transcribed and submitted online at the survey link, using the log-in information you received. Answers provided on the PDF should not be mailed or emailed to the Census Bureau; all data must be submitted using the survey link and log-in information you received via mail or email.   

How can I verify that the person contacting me is from the Census Bureau?

If you have received a mailed letter or an emailed letter requesting you to participate in the survey, a Census Bureau employee may contact you to remind you to complete the survey by telephone. He or she will always provide you with their name and email address.

To protect your privacy, the School Pulse Panel NEVER asks for:

  • your Social Security number
  • your personal information via email
  • money or donations
  • credit card information
  • individual student data

You can also verify the legitimacy of a call from the Census Bureau by visiting:


Is participation mandatory?

Although this is a voluntary survey, your cooperation is essential to make the results of this survey comprehensive, accurate, and timely. Policymakers and educational leaders rely on data from this survey to inform evidence-based decisions about policy and supporting recovery efforts. Because it is a sample survey, responses from sampled schools represent the responses of many schools that serve similar student populations. A greater number of completed surveys give us greater confidence that the findings are accurate.

Participating schools will receive a $200 debit card for each fully completed monthly survey they submit.  These reimbursements will be mailed to participating schools approximately five to six weeks after the end of each monthly data collection.

How do I know my responses are safe? Can I be identified by my responses?

The responses that are collected from surveys conducted by the Census Bureau are encrypted both in transit and at rest on the Census Bureau’s servers. These servers are part of a stand-alone network that is not accessible by the Internet. These servers are constantly monitored for any attempts at intrusion.

All of the information you provide may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be disclosed, or used, in identifiable form for any other purpose except as required by law (20 U.S.C. §9573 and 6 U.S.C. §151). Reports of the findings from the survey will not identify participating districts, schools, or staff. Individual responses will be combined with those from other participants to produce summary statistics and reports. Summary data from the study will be released on an online dashboard for researchers and policymakers. 

Where can I find the statistics produced by this survey?

Summary data from the study will be released via an online dashboard for researchers and policymakers. All data from the survey can be found here: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/spp/

What if I have additional questions, recommendations, or issues that I need resolved?

If you are a school that was contacted about participating in SPP and have questions about your participation, contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-844-868-3661 or via email at addp.school.pulse.panel@census.gov. The U.S. Census Bureau collects data on behalf of NCES. For all other questions about SPP, please email schoolpulsepanel@ed.gov.

What is the legal authority for conducting this survey?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education, is authorized to conduct this survey by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA 2002, 20 U.S.C. §9543).

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved this survey. The OMB control number is 1850-0975 and the approval expiration date for the collection is 7/31/2026.

Page Last Revised - November 28, 2023
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