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AERA Urges Census Bureau to Retain Key Education Indicator in ACS
 
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January 2015

In a December 29 letter, AERA urged the Census Bureau to retain a key question in the American Community Survey (ACS) regarding respondents’ undergraduate degree field. The letter was prompted by a Census Bureau proposal to remove several questions from the ACS, including one on undergraduate degree field. (See “Census Bureau Considers Removing Bachelor Degree Field From ACS Data Collection,” AERA Highlights, November 2014.)

The proposed cuts followed a comprehensive review of all ACS questions that took into account cost, respondent burden, and criteria for meeting legislative and agency responsibilities.

AERA emphasized that the question on undergraduate degree field is an invaluable social indicator and essential for research. Specifically, this indicator informs research on college training and degree completion and how the STEM workforce readiness of our population meets or does not meet the workforce needs of our economy.

The letter also noted that the question serves as a sample frame for the National Science Foundation’s National Survey of College Graduates, saving NSF more than $17 million. Data on undergraduate degree field are also used for the National Science Board’s legislatively mandated Science and Engineering Indicators report.

 
 
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