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Nov 2 -- The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), U.S. Department of Education, invites public comments by January 3, 2022 on the proposed School Pulse Panel.
 
The School Pulse Panel is a new study conducted by NCES 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 has begun data collection under Emergency Clearance (see OMB# 1850-0963). NCES is also submitting this parallel ICR package to undergo the usual 60-day and 30-day clearance processes so that data collection can continue beyond the expiration of the 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.

In September 2021, NCES made the decision to suspend data collection for the months of October, November, and December 2021, as the response rate for the first month of the collection was under 10 percent and not expected to provide sufficient data for accurate and unbiased estimates to be produced. The reason for the delay was to provide the Institute of Education Sciences sufficient time to redesign the study to improve response rates. A primary strategy is to reduce burden in each month’s collection and to rotate content to address data needs of the agencies across months. The January SPP collection will be based on updated materials cleared through OMB in previous submissions for the study. The SPP study itself is extremely important particularly now that COVID-19 has not waned, and the pulse model is one that the agency will need after the pandemic subsides for other quick-turnaround data needs.
 
The U.S. Census Bureau will collect the School Pulse Panel (SPP) data on behalf of NCES. Data collection will be a self-administered, online survey. It is estimated for the survey to require, on average, 30 minutes of school staff time each month.
 
The sampling frame for the School Pulse Panel is derived from the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) 2020-21 frame, which itself is largely derived from the 2018-19 Common Core of Data (CCD), the file 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, though the School Pulse Panel may sample Puerto Rico separately at a later date. Data may also be collected from the outlying areas (American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands) at the district-level. Certain types of schools are excluded, including newly closed schools, home schools, virtual schools, ungraded schools, private schools, and schools with a high grade 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, and the sample is sorted primarily on the type of locale (urbanicity), percent minority enrollment, and geographic region.  
 
School Pulse Panel webpage: https://nces.ed.gov/surveys/spp/
Draft SPP technical documentation and survey instruments: https://www.regulations.gov/docket/ED-2021-SCC-0149/document
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/11/02/2021-23841/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

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