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National Science Foundation

Possible Redesign of the SESTAT Surveys

NCSES is considering a new design for the SESTAT surveys

New Design: NCSES is 1) gauging the possibility of eliminating the NSRCG, 2) examining the use of the American Community Survey (ACS) to increase the sample of young graduates within the NSCG, and 3) studying the impact of providing data on young graduates rather than data on recent graduates.

Goal: To improve the timeliness, quality, and efficiency of our surveys coupled with reducing costs. The change under evaluation is in response to a recommendation provided by the National Academy of Sciences (Committee on National Statistics, 2008).

Design rationale: Prior to the 2010 survey cycle, the NSCG selected its sample of college graduates once a decade from the decennial census long form. In 2010, NCSES redesigned the NSCG as a rotating panel study of college graduates based on biennial samples drawn from the ACS. The inclusion of a field of degree question on the ACS allows the NSCG to efficiently sample college graduates in science and engineering or related health degree fields. The ongoing nature of the ACS allows the NSCG to provide coverage of the inflow of new college graduates allowing NCSES to consider the possibility of eliminating the NSRCG.

Potential impact: Eliminating the NSRCG and increasing the sample of young graduates within the NSCG will not result in any change in the population covered by SESTAT, nor will it have an impact on race and diversity data produced by SESTAT.

Evaluation criteria and steps: Of primary concern will be potential changes in the accuracy of certain SESTAT estimates. Since the NSRCG provides data on recent graduates, the evaluation will also consider the impact of providing data on young graduates rather than data on recent graduates.

Recent graduates are those earning a college degree within the past 2 academic years. Young graduates are those below a particular age without regard for the number of years since graduation date.

Steps completed

  • Examined the availability of sample from the ACS
  • Conducted outreach efforts to the survey community and to NSRCG data users, including a Federal Register notice requesting comments
  • Investigated the cost implications of this new design

Next steps

  • Compare the precision level of NSRCG estimates to ACS-based NSCG estimates
  • Examine the impact the proposed design has on other NCSES surveys and NCSES data products, such as the Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities and the Science and Engineering Indicators reports
  • Investigate the impact the new design has on the SESTAT integration workload
  • Identify additional benefits resulting from the transition from the NSRCG to the expanded NSCG
  • Continue our outreach efforts

As our evaluation continues over the next weeks and months, we will periodically update this webpage.

Other considerations: This new design is based on the assumption of continued funding of the ACS by the U.S. Census Bureau and the continued availability of the ACS as a sampling frame. Any changes to the funding or availability of the ACS will have a severe impact on the feasibility of this new design.

Feedback. Your feedback is crucial as we conduct this evaluation of a potential design for SESTAT. Any insight you provide on the proposed design or planned evaluation will be greatly appreciated. (Contact us)


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