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Results and Recommendations from the Cognitive Pretesting of the 2003 Public School Questionnaire from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS)

Jennifer Hunter and Terry DeMaio

KEY WORDS: pretesting, education, public schools, cognitive interviewing


Staff conducted cognitive interviews to evaluate revised questions for the 2003 SASS Public School Questionnaire. The purpose of the testing was to evaluate revised wording of questions related to average daily attendance, number of limited-English-proficient students and programs for them, and measures of school overcrowding. This report documents the results of this cognitive testing. Results showed that respondents were familiar with the concept of "average daily attendance," although they were more likely to provide it accurately as a percentage rather than a number of students. Limited-English-proficient was a term familiar to all respondents, even though they did not necessarily use it in their schools. With one exception, the measures of overcrowding worked well to identify schools that are crowded. However, due to complexities in the concept of historical building capacity, it did not work well to identify overcrowding.

Problems were also uncovered in questions that were not central to the purpose of testing. For example, respondents were inconsistent in whether they considered a school nurse to constitute "medical health care services." The real situations regarding summer school activities for extra assistance or enrichment are not captured properly by these questions, because programs often rotate from year to year in where they are offered. High school respondents improperly reported programs like immersion in a foreign language and were unsure about whether to report Advanced Placement classes as part of a talented and gifted program. Recommendations for all these situations are included in the report, along with the resolution of issues decided jointly between the Census Bureau and the sponsors.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Research Division

Created: 30-JUL-2003

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010