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Sept 7 --  The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Department of Education (ED), invites the public to comment to OMB by October 7, 2021 regarding the new School Pulse Panel data collection, which is currently approved through March 31, 2022. NCES seeks clearance through at least August 31, 2022.
The School Pulse Panel is a new study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), within the United States Department of Education, to collect 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.  
The survey will ask school district staff and sampled school principals about topics such as instructional mode offered; enrollment counts of subgroups of students using various instructional modes; learning loss mitigation strategies; safe and healthy school mitigation strategies; special education services; use of technology; use of federal relief funds; and information on staffing.  
Because this data collection is extremely high priority and time sensitive, it will undergo Emergency Clearance. The administration of the School Pulse Panel study is in direct response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14000: Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers. It will be one of the nation’s few sources of reliable data on a wealth of information focused on school reopening efforts, virus spread mitigation strategies, services offered for students and staff, and technology use, as reported by school district staff and principals in U.S. public schools.  
About 1200 public elementary, middle, high, and combined-grade schools will be selected to participate in a panel where school and district staff will be asked to provide requested data monthly during the 2021-22 school years. This approach provides the ability to collect detailed information on various topics while also assessing changes in reopening efforts over time. Given the high demand for data collection during this time, the content of the survey may change on a quarterly basis.

NCES requested emergency clearance to allow it to comply with the January 21, 2021 Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers which states that the Department of Education must “coordinate with the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences to facilitate, consistent with applicable law, the collection of data necessary to fully understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and educators, including data on the status of in-person learning. These data shall be disaggregated by student demographics, including race, ethnicity, disability, English-language-learner status, and free or reduced lunch status or other appropriate indicators of family income.” Although OMB approval has been provided, this collection will undergo a 30-day public comment period after clearance has been granted. In addition, the Department will provide the usual 60-day comment period for the regular ICR and subsequent 30-day comment period so that data collection can continue beyond the expiration of the emergency clearance.
The School Pulse Panel is essentially a continuation of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) 2021 School Survey (OMB# 1850-0957) that was fielded in the spring of 2021. This NAEP 2021 School Survey met the need of Executive Order 14000 by using an existing sample and survey data collection infrastructure to quickly collect information on instructional mode offerings and enrollment counts of various subgroups of students using the various instructional modes. The School Pulse Panel intends to continue to collect this critical information, along with other priority items for the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Department of Education program offices. NCES plans for the School Pulse Panel to be a monthly collection beginning in September and continue through the 2021-22 school year and following summer months.
The U.S. Census Bureau will collect the School Pulse Panel data on behalf of NCES. The School Pulse Panel will be a self-administered, online survey (as built in Qualtrics). It is estimated for the survey to require a total of about 2-3 hours of staff time.  

The sampled school will be offered up to a total reimbursement of $5,000 for their participation in the study over the course of 12 months (including September 2021 through August 2022). The reimbursement will be paid out quarterly in the form of a debit card and will be prorated to include the dollar amount that reflects the number of months of participation for that quarter. Additionally, a non-monetary incentive (tote bag) will be sent to sampled schools as part of the November communications. If a school district does not permit its schools to receive any form of incentive, the reimbursement will be sent to a point of contact in the district or the reimbursement and any non-monetary incentives will be withheld. Principals, or the school staff most knowledgeable about COVID-19 impacts on the school environment and instructional offerings, can complete the survey, however it is encouraged for school staff to seek assistance in responding from other school staff or district staff to help reduce burden. No classroom time is involved in the completion of this survey.

The School Pulse Panel will provide aggregate estimates for public schools across the nation. A stratified sample design was used to select approximately 1,200 U.S. public schools. In addition, a reserve sample of replacement schools was selected to boost the number of responses if any schools from the initial sample do not respond. The sample is designed to provide national estimates of primary, middle, and high schools taking into account the type of locale (urbanicity) and racial/ethnic student enrollment.

The sampling frame 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 sampling frame. Certain types of schools are excluded, including newly closed schools, home schools, virtual schools, ungraded schools, private schools, and schools with high grades of kindergarten or lower. Regular public schools, charter schools, alternative schools, special education schools, vocational schools, correctional facilities/juvenile justice facilities, and schools that have partial or total magnet programs are included in the frame. For sample allocation purposes, strata are defined by instructional level, type of locale (urbanicity), region, and percent minority enrollment.
The main objective of the School Pulse Panel sampling design is to obtain overall subgroup estimates broken out by various school characteristics. For sample allocation and sample selection purposes, strata were defined by instructional level. In addition, region, locale, percent minority enrollment, enrollment size, and charter status were used as implicit stratification variables by sorting schools by these variables within each stratum before sample selection. The explicit stratification and the first three implicit stratification variables (region, locale, and percent minority enrollment) are priorities for evaluation for this panel. The method determined to allocating schools to the different sampling strata is allocate them proportionally to the U.S. public school population.
School Pulse Panel package to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202109-1850-003 Click IC List for survey instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation.
Submit comments at https://www.regulations.gov/docket/ED-2021-SCC-0130/document (As of Sept 12, the documents on this site are current as of Sept 7, while those on reginfo.gov are current as of Sept 9. This discrepancy, hopefully, will be corrected.)
FR notice inviting public comment to OMB: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/09/07/2021-19158/agency-information-collection-activities-comment-request-school-pulse-panel-data-collection
Point of contact: Rachel Hansen, School Pulse Panel project director, NCES Rachel.Hansen@ed.gov
For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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