The SSOCS is the primary source of school-level data on crime and safety for the United States Department of
Education. It provides nationwide estimates of crime, discipline, disorder, programs, and policies in public
schools. Data on crime, violence, and disorder in the nation's schools are collected to provide policymakers,
parents, and educators with the information necessary to identify emerging problems and to gauge the
safety of American schools.
SSOCS:2004 was conducted as a mail survey with telephone follow-up. Six months before the
onset of data collection, NCES began working with the school districts of sample schools that
required prior approval to participate in the survey. In late February 2004, advance letters were
sent to school administrators of sample schools that included the date of the first questionnaire
mailing and a toll-free number to call with any questions. Approximately one week later, SSOCS
questionnaires were mailed to administrators with a cover letter describing the importance of the
survey and a brochure providing additional information about it.
On the same day the questionnaires were mailed to schools, letters were sent to sample district
superintendents and the Chief State School Officer of each state to inform them that schools
within their districts and states, respectively, had been selected to participate in SSOCS:2004.
The letters included information about the survey and were accompanied by a copy of the
questionnaire and brochure that were sent to schools. The letter was not designed to ask for
permission from these officials to participate in the survey but rather, it was designed by NCES as a
vehicle to enhance participation.
Starting approximately one week after the first questionnaire mailing, follow-up telephone
prompts were used to verify that the questionnaire was received and to encourage survey
response. As an alternative to replying by mail, data were also accepted by fax submission and
over the telephone. Data collection ended on June 4, 2004. Returned questionnaires were
examined for quality and completeness using both manual and computerized edits. Out of 227
items on the questionnaire, 101 were identified as key (critical) items. If the survey had more
than 40 percent of all items missing or more than 20 percent of critical items missing, the
respondent was recontacted to resolve issues related to the missing data. In cases where the
recontacts failed to produce a satisfactory resolution, imputation was used to resolve data quality
issues for questionnaires that had at least 60 percent of all items and 80 percent of critical items
completed. Schools whose questionnaires did not meet the 60/80 criterion and for which
recontact was not successful were reclassified as nonrespondents.
The sampling frame for SSOCS:2004 was constructed from the public school universe file created for the 2003-2004 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The SASS frame was derived
from the 2001-2002 NCES Common Core of Data (CCD) Public School Universe file. The CCD is an annual national database of all public K-12 schools and school districts. Certain types of schools are excluded from the CCD Public School Universe File in order to meet the sampling needs of SASS, including those in the outlying United States territories, overseas Department of Defense schools, newly closed schools, home schools, and schools with high grades of kindergarten or
lower. Additional schools are then excluded from the SASS frame to meet the sampling needs of SSOCS, including local education agencies that appear to be schools and "intermediate units" in California and Pennsylvania.
Further information on sampling can be found in the School Survey on Crime and Safety: 2003-2004 Data File User's Manual.
Public elementary and secondary schools in the United States.
Unweighted response rate: 74.7 percent,
Weighted response rate: 77.2 percent