Education Department to Collect Data on In-Person Instruction in 2021 NAEP School Survey

February 2021

On February 5, the Department of Education announced the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) would conduct the 2021 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) School Survey. The data collection is aligned with the January 21 executive order from the Biden administration to safely reopen schools.  

The executive order directed the Education Department to “coordinate with the Director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) 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.”

The 2021 NAEP School Survey will collect data from schools enrolling fourth and eighth grade students on:

  • The share of the nation's schools that are open with full-time, in-person instruction, open with online and in-person instruction, or fully remote;
  • Enrollment by instructional mode by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, English learner status, and disability status;
  • Attendance rates by instructional mode by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, English learner status, disability status, and housing status;
  • Frequency of in-person learning for students, average number of hours of synchronous instruction for students in remote instruction mode; and
  • Student groups prioritized by schools for in-person instruction by selected school characteristics.

Although Congress provided a waiver to NCES to postpone the fourth and eighth grade NAEP math and reading assessments until 2022, the sampling of schools for background questionnaires had been underway prior to the postponement. NCES will collect data monthly through June and will publish a summary monthly report from March through July. The data will also provide important context to the NAEP 2022 assessment results.

While the 2021 NAEP School Survey will provide a representative understanding of the status of in-person instruction, it would not completely replace the school pulse survey that IES Director Mark Schneider has proposed to help in measuring and addressing learning loss.

Prior to the announcement of the NAEP 2021 School Survey, AERA was among more than 50 research and K-12 education organizations that joined a letter in support of funding and additional staff for NCES to conduct a school pulse survey. The February 1 letter to the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education called for $5 million in emergency funding and $5 million in funding in fiscal year 2022 for the survey.