The next Census Survey won’t take place until 2020. But the Census Bureau recently sent out a letter to 1.2 million households asking them to fill out the 2015 National Contest Test.
Not sure how many of those landed in Kane County, IL, but we imagine there might be quite a few.
The goal of the test is to improve questions and participation by testing out Internet options. If you received this letter, it’s not a scam and you are required by law to fill it out. By responding, you are helping to improve the survey and test out some cost saving measures for the census.
- For more information, read the 2015 National Contest announcement and the section on frequently asked questions concerning the test.
Last month, 1.2 million households began receiving the questionnaire for the 2015 National Content Test. For those who receive the test, your participation in this important milestone on the road to the 2020 Census will help determine the best questions for you to respond to in the next census.
The National Content Test has two main objectives. First, the bureau wants to evaluate and compare different versions of questions to ask in the 2020 Census, such as those about race and origin, relationships, and the best questions for determining where people should be counted as of Census Day.
Second, during the National Content Test, the U.S. Census Bureau will try different strategies for encouraging households to respond to the census on their own. The bureau will test nine different approaches to encourage households to respond via the Internet — the least costly and most efficient response option.
The Census Bureau has sent National Content Test questionnaires to a statistically representative sample of households in the United States and Puerto Rico. For each household, it asks how many people live in the house, and each person’s name, sex, age, relationship, and race and ethnic origin. The bureau asks whether the housing unit is owned or rented. Finally, it asks for the respondent’s telephone number and email address. Because studying the effectiveness of different content is part of the test, different households will receive different versions of question wording.
“If you receive a form, please perform your civic duty and complete it,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said in his blog. “You will help inform our decisions as we design the 2020 Census. Your participation will also help us to identify additional topics for 2020 Census testing later this decade.”
The 2015 National Content Test is scheduled to run through November 2015. You can learn more by visiting the bureau’s FAQ page.
What is the 2015 National Content Test?
The U.S. Census Bureau will send 2015 National Content Test questionnaires to a statistically representative sample of approximately 1.2 million households in the United States and Puerto Rico. This test is scheduled to begin on August 24, and run through October 31, 2015. The official Census Day for the test is Sept. 1, 2015.
The purpose of the test is to:
- Evaluate and compare different versions of questions that will be asked in the 2020 Census, such as race and origin, relationship, and the best questions for determining where people should be counted as of Census Day.
- Test different contact strategies for optimizing self-response (encouraging people to respond on their own so the Census Bureau doesn’t have to send an enumerator to the household), which include nine different approaches for contacting respondents to encourage them to participate, specifically to respond using Internet — the least costly and most efficient response option.
- Refine estimates of how many people are likely to self-respond in 2020, and what portion are likely to respond via the Internet, based on a nationally representative sample.
What specific questions are asked on the 2015 National Content Test?
For each household, we will ask how many people live in the house, and for each person we will ask the name, sex, age, relationship, and race/origin. We also will ask whether the housing unit is owned or rented, the telephone number, and an email address. Some people will receive different versions of question wording because studying the effectiveness of different content is a part of the test.
Do I have to respond to the 2015 National Content Test?
Yes. Participation in the test is mandated by law (Title 13 of the U.S. Code). This same law also requires the Census Bureau to keep your answers confidential and allows them to be used only to produce statistical summary data. In other words, the Census Bureau does not publish data that would identify individuals.
In the 2015 National Content Test, what is the “re-interview”?
The Census Bureau will contact a subset of people who respond to the 2015 National Content Test and interview them again — asking more detailed questions to help assess the accuracy and reliability of our test questions. Re-interviews will be conducted from September 21, 2015 to November 25, 2015.
How can I respond to this test?
If you are selected for this test, the quickest and easiest way to respond is to go online and respond using the survey Internet link or URL you will receive by mail. You may also use the toll-free telephone questionnaire assistance line shown on that mailing piece.
Will the Census Bureau release the counts from the 2015 National Content Test?
No. The focus of this test is studying new ideas for 2020; not publishing updated official counts.