All families participating in the survey waves of the NEWWS, including the families in the Child Outcomes Study, were told at the time of random assignment that they would be contacted for follow-up interviews. Families were then sent letters when it was time to contact them for the two-year follow-up survey. Interviewers set up appointments for the follow-up survey either by contacting respondents by phone, or by going directly to the respondent's home (for example, because the respondent did not have a telephone, or because the interviewer had difficulty reaching the respondent by phone). Interviews were conducted in the respondents' homes. The in-home survey, including the core as well as the component specific to the Child Outcomes Study, lasted about one and a half hours (range of from half an hour to four and a half hours). During the visit:
- mothers responded to a series of interviewer questions and also completed some questions in a self-administered questionnaire format;
- mothers who had been considered in need of education at the time of random assignment, and who were in the human capital development or control groups of the evaluation, were given an assessment of reading and math literacy;
- children were given a direct assessment of cognitive school readiness, the Bracken Basic Concept Scale/School Readiness Composite; and
- interviewers completed a series of ratings about the home environment, about mother-child interactions, and about the circumstances of the interview (e.g., whether the interview had been interrupted).
Respondents were given a $20 incentive for their participation, and the focal children in the study were also given a small gift (a travel Etch-a-Sketch).
In fielding the study, efforts were made to recruit interviewers from ethnic/racial backgrounds similar to those of the respondents in each site, and all interviewers were female. Bilingual interviewers (Spanish-English) were available in the Grand Rapids and Riverside sites, and all survey instruments were translated into Spanish (with checks on the translation carried out via oral back-translation). If a respondent in one of these sites indicated a preference for the interview to be conducted in Spanish, this was done. The child assessment, the Bracken Basic Concept Scale/School Readiness Composite, was also available in a Spanish version. An adult respondent who did not speak English was not asked to complete the literacy and math tests, because these involved assessing these skills as they would be used in an English-speaking context.
Interviewers all participated in a three-day long training meeting in which they received instruction not only in the administration of the survey modules, but also intensive training in the administration of the child cognitive assessment, the adult literacy assessment, and completing the ratings of the home environment and mother-child interaction. Training for the ratings of mother-child interaction employed a training videotape, and training for ratings of the home environment used photographs of home settings as exemplars.
Data quality was monitored intensively during the first months of fielding through detailed review of completed surveys (including assessments and ratings) in each of the three sites by staff from Child Trends, Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, and the fielding organization, Response Analysis Corporation. Interviewers were contacted directly regarding any problems in their administration of the follow-up. After the initial months of fielding, ongoing quality control involved review of key questionnaire items and sections on every interview. If information was missing or inconsistent with data provided elsewhere in the interview, staff from Response Analysis Corporation re-contacted the respondent directly or had the original interviewer re-contact the respondent. Discussions occurred periodically between the fielding organization and the research staff at Child Trends regarding any particular child-related questions or issues that emerged during fielding. Response Analysis Corporation also verified the completion of 20-40 percent of each interviewer's sessions.