At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides information on school characteristics, such as recess time, physical education class time, and school lunch program participation.
  • Provides detailed information about school safety.
  • Includes public schools with an American Indian or Alaska Native student population of 25 percent or more.
  • Covers elementary and secondary-level schools.



To collect data about characteristics of schools and their staff in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

Public, private, and Bureau of Indian Education-funded (BIE) K-12 schools, principals, and teachers in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
1990-1991, and 1987-1988 school years. A student records questionnaire was fielded in 1993-1994 but not since.


Began in 1987 (1987-1988 school year). Conducted every 4 years since 1999. Most recent year conducted was 2011-2012. Followup surveys with teachers and principals were conducted in 2009 (for 2008-2009 school year).


National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education

Special Note(s)

After 2010–11, NCES redesigned The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and named it the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) and was first conducted in 2015–16.

BIE schools are included through 2007-2008, but are not included in 2011-2012.

Survey questionnaires can be obtained on the SASS web page, under Questionnaires.

The Teacher Follow-up Survey (TFS) is a follow-up survey to the SASS and is intended to determine how many teachers remained at the same school, moved to another school, or left the profession in the year following the SASS.

The Principal Follow-up Survey (PFS), first conducted in school year 2008-2009, is a component of the 2007-2008 SASS. PFS provides attrition rates for principals in K-12 public, private, and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools.

For questions on survey content or survey methodology, contact


Sample Design

Cross-sectional, nationally representative, stratified, probability-proportionate-to-size sample. Learn more about sampling methods and procedures. Learn more about the sample design.

Sample Size

Approximately 9,800 public, 180 Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), 2,900 private schools in the 2007-2008 school year.

Approximately 5,300 public school districts.

Approximately 47,600 public school teachers, 800 BIE school teachers, and 8,200 private school teachers.

Approximately12,900 school principals from 9,800 public, 180 BIE, and 2,900 private schools.

Special Note(s)

The sampling frame for public traditional and charter schools in 2007-2008 was built from the 2005-2006 Common Core of Data (CCD) school survey, which is a universe survey of all elementary and secondary schools in the U.S.

The public school sample was designed so that national-, regional-, and state-level elementary, secondary, and combined public school estimates can be made. The private school sample was designed so that national-, regional-, and affiliation-level estimates can be produced. BIE schools were sampled with certainty, and thus national estimates for BIE schools can be produced. Teachers associated with selected schools were sampled from a teacher list provided by each school.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
School location type (rural, suburban, urban)Interview/questionnaire (school district)
Racial/ethnic composition of schoolInterview/questionnaire (principal)
Gender composition of schoolInterview/questionnaire (principal)
Degree to which poverty is a problem at school Interview/questionnaire (teacher)


NameMethods of Assessment
Number of food service personnel at schoolInterview/questionnaire (principal)
District and school participation in National School Lunch ProgramInterview/questionnaire (school district; principal)
Percent of students in district and school approved for free or reduced-price mealsInterview/questionnaire (school district)

Physical Activity-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Amount of recess timeInterview/questionnaire (3rd grade students; principal)
Physical education class timeInterview/questionnaire (3rd grade students; principal)
Teaching assignments to physical education or health course (whether main assignment, number of periods taught, number of students in classes)Interview/questionnaire (teacher)


NameMethods of Assessment
SchoolInterview/questionnaire (school district)
School DistrictInterview/questionnaire (school district)


NameMethods of Assessment
School level (e.g., elementary)Interview/questionnaire (school district; principal; teacher)
Number of students enrolled in schoolInterview/questionnaire (school district; principal)
Crime perceived as a serious problem at school (e.g., possession of weapons, theft)Interview/questionnaire (teacher)
Perceived prevalence of various types of crime at schoolInterview/questionnaire (principal)
Physical threats and attacks on staffInterview/questionnaire (teacher)
Physical conflicts students perceived as serious problemInterview/questionnaire (teacher)
School security measuresInterview/questionnaire (principal)
Degree of input into curriculum from various entities (e.g., state department of education, local school board, teachers, parent association)Interview/questionnaire (principal)
Degree to which poor student health is a problem at school Interview/questionnaire (teacher)
Teacher’s educational fields of study and degreesInterview/questionnaire (teacher)

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Download the 1999-2000 SASS and 2000-2001 Teacher Follow-up Surveys(TFS) public-use data files by using the Education Data Analysis Tool. The 1987-1988, 1990-1991, and 1993-1994 SASS and 1988-1989, 1991-1992 and 1994-1995 TFS public-use data files also are available for download. Since 1999-2000, none of the SASS or TFS data files are available in public-use versions.


Free of charge.

Special Note(s)

Investigators wishing to obtain restricted-use data must obtain a restricted-use data license. Learn more about obtaining this license.

Learn more about obtaining restricted-use data for the full 2007-2008 SASS.

Learn more about obtaining restricted-use data for the 2007-2008 SASS and 2008-09 TFS.

Learn more about obtaining restricted-use data from the 2008-2009 Principal Follow-up Survey data.

Learn more about obtaining the 2008-2009. Teacher Status Files.


Geocode Variable(s)

State, school district

Existing Linkages

Geocodes at the school district level link to the United States Decennial Census and to the American Community Survey data. Learn more. The Common Core of Data also has geocoding. Learn more. No linkages found.

Special Note(s)

Restricted-use SASS data allow researchers to link school districts and schools to other data sources.

School and local education agency files have the latitude and longitude of the school or of the school district headquarters.

Selected Publications


Keigher A, Gruber, K. Characteristics of Public, Private, and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States: Results from the 2007-08 Schools and Staffing Survey (NCES 2009-321). Washington (DC): National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, 2009.

Physical Activity-Related

Robers S, Zhang J, Truman J. Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2010 (NCES 2011-002/NCJ 230812). Washington (DC): National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, 2010.