Assessment of Major Federal Data Sets for Analyses of Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander Subgroups and Native Americans: Inventory of Selected Existing Federal Databases. National Household Education Survey (NHES)


Sponsoring agency

National Center for Education Statistics
Department of Education


Reference date



The National Household Education Survey (NHES) is designed to provide information on selected educational issues that are best addressed by contacting households directly, rather than schools or other educational institutions. NHES, a national telephone survey of the civilian noninstitutional population, has been conducted at varying periods since 1991 to address such topics as early childhood education, adult education, school readiness, school safety and discipline, parent and family involvement in education, library use, and civic involvement. Between 45,000 and 64,000 households were screened for each of these surveys, and individuals within households who met the predetermined criteria were interviewed to collect the desired information. Beginning in 1996, the potential of the screener was enhanced by an expansion which added a brief set of questions on issues of interest to education program administrators and policymakers. Members of all screened households also were asked to provide educational and demographic information, including race/ethnic detail, thus providing national and state estimates of household characteristics.


The following questions are used currently to develop the information on race/ethnicity:

  • Are you… (If R gives ethnicity (e.g. Hispanic), probe for race
    • White Asian or Pacific Islander
      Black Some other race
      American Indian or Alaskan Native
      Puerto Rican
      More than one race/biracial/multiracial
      Other (specify)

    Are you of Hispanic origin?


    • YES NO

    A test of the proposed, revised race/ethnic questions was conducted in NHES:1999, using the following items:

    Please tell me, are you of Hispanic or Latino origin?


    • YES NO

    Now I am going to read you a list of racial groups. After you have heard the list, you may choose one or more that apply to you. Are you…


    • White
      Black or African American
      American Indian or Alaska Native
      Asian, or
      Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
      Other (specify)

Interviewing policy

NHES is conducted in English and in Spanish, as required. The questionnaires are available on the CATI system in a Spanish language version, with bilingual interviewers trained to complete the interview in either English or Spanish. Telephone surveys may be answered by someone who does not speak English; if the interviewer is not bilingual in the language of the respondent, such cases are noted by the interviewer as "language problem" and, if the language is recognized, it is recorded. If the initial interviewer is functional in the respondent's language (usually Spanish), the interview is immediately carried out. In cases involving "language problem," efforts are made to identify and locate an English (or Spanish) speaking household member to assist with the interview; failing that approach, translators or persons with the unique language skill are used to complete the interview. In NHES: 1996, only about 2 percent of the almost 56,000 screeners were not conducted in English.

Sample size

The sample sizes shown in Appendix Tables A-1 to A-3 are for the 1996 screening operation.

Publications of data for Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans

Key statistics are presented by the major race/ethnicity categories. Public use micro-record data files are prepared for each survey cycle; the race/Hispanic origin detail, as collected, is included on the public use file.

Revised race/ethnic definitions

As noted above, a test of the revised race/ethnic questions has been conducted. It is expected that this approach will be introduced into the cycle of NHES scheduled for 2001.

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