Post COVID Surveys

Research Project

The Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent changes to lifestyles and education practices have focused the American attention intensely on education and learning, both processes and progress. The shifts from in-classroom to virtual learning and from social to asocial learning and isolated environments have profoundly affected students and teachers as well as education administrators at all levels who are faced with making decisions based on whatever information is available. In consequence the context for national surveys and assessments through the remaining pandemic period and into the post-Covid era will in many ways be new, while contextual changes already underway are accelerated

Important changes are variously attitudinal (i.e., increasing reluctance to participate), transactional (i.e., desires for quid pro quo for participation), content-related (i.e., information on measures of learning delays and strategies for recouping), and technological (i.e., greater familiarity and facility with electronic media and virtual classrooms).

The expert panel identified three broad areas for addressing these changes:

  • Recognition and Trust of IES/NCES
  • Relationships with Educators, Respondents and other Stakeholders
  • Opportunities Arising from Technical Advances and Available Technologies

Broad recommendations in each of these areas are given in the final report. More specifically targeted recommendations appear in the final section of the full report and are appended in abbreviated form to this summary.  Major difficulties with data collection ultimately manifest in non-response; and this is of significant concern when it impacts data quality. For NCES the impact is most acute at the school district level where refusal eliminates all district schools from all (non-mandatory) surveys and assessments. Therefore the expert panel framed part of its discussion specifically at the district level and offered some specific recommendations.

Project Goal: 

In 2020, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) charged the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) with examining the changing context for surveys: changing needs for information both content and timing, changing willingness to participate, and changing facility of the general populace with virtual communication emerging as the norm. The panel was asked specifically to address the changing needs and changing opportunities for traditional and for new data collection modes in order to continue to conduct reliable, efficient surveys of the many facets of information on education.

Research Team: 

F. Jay Breidt, (Professor of Statistics at Colorado State University)
Jason M. Fields, (Senior Researcher at the U.S. Census Bureau)
Rachel Horwitz, (Survey Methodologist at the U.S. Census Bureau)
Natalie Shlomo, (Professor of Social Statistics at the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester)
James Wagner, (Research Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center (UM-SRC))
Gina Walejko, (Researcher at Google)
Nell Sedransk, (Director, National Institute of Statistical Sciences-DC)
Brian Habing, (Associate Director for Education Research at NISS, and Associate Professor of Statistics at University of South Carolina)
Alexi Albert, (Research Assistant, National Institute of Statistical Science)
Ya Mo, (Research Fellow, National Institute of Statistical Sciences; Assistant Professor, Boise State University)