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No. 2

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National Household Education Survey

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a division of the U.S. Department of Education, is conducting a nationwide survey. The data collected will relate to early educational experiences and how families prepare their children for school. Randomly selected survey participants are contacted by a letter that explains the survey and gives a window of time during which an interview call from a survey taker can be expected. The participants’ names and answers are kept confidential.

A Home School Legal Defense Association member family received this NCES letter and agreed to participate in the survey, which took about 30 minutes. The family reported that they were asked a wide range of questions covering such topics as participation in physical education programs, results of any mental health assessments, identification of any weight problems their children might have had, and extent of the parents’ formal education. When the family indicated that they homeschooled, the interviewer began to ask questions tailored for home education, and mentioned that there was a different set of questions for families with children in public school.

Our member family felt comfortable with their decision to participate, and they received a small remuneration from the NCES.

HSLDA is neutral as to whether or not you should participate in this survey. Our staff has reviewed the information our member family received about the survey, as well as the NCES website (http://nces.ed.gov/nhes). The survey appears to be completely voluntary, and like many other surveys, there does not appear to be any detrimental impact resulting from participation.

However, if you are contacted by the NCES and asked to participate in the National Household Education Surveys Program, and if you decide not to participate, you should immediately respond to the letter, indicate that you will not be participating, and return any remuneration that was enclosed.

As with many survey programs, interviewers can be persistent in trying to convince you to participate. Just be firm in your refusal, and remember that this is a voluntary program. If you encounter any real difficulties, please contact the HSLDA Legal Department for assistance.

— by J. Michael Smith