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Principal Follow-Up Survey (PFS)

Principal Follow-Up Survey (PFS)

The Principal Follow-Up Survey (PFS) is a survey of elementary and secondary school principals who participated in the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) or its predecessor, the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), during the previous school year. One area of research that cannot be addressed with the NTPS data is the attrition and retention rates of principals; therefore, to address this, the PFS was developed. The PFS asks only 2 questions regarding the current occupational status of the previous school year’s principal.

If you have been asked to participate in this survey, this site will help you verify that the survey came from the Census Bureau, verify that the person who called you is a Census Bureau employee, and inform you of how we protect your data.


The purpose of the PFS is to provide principal attrition rates for principals in K-12 public schools. The goal is to assess how many of the principals who participated in the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) during the previous school year still worked as a principal in the same school during the subsequent school year, how many moved to become a principal in another school, and how many were no longer working as a principal.

The PFS has been conducted the school year following the NTPS and its predecessor, the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The PFS has been conducted three times – during the 2008-09, 2012-13, and 2016-17 school years (following the 2007-08 and 2011-12 SASS administrations and the 2015-16 NTPS administration). The next administration of the PFS will be during the 2021-22 school year, following the 2020-21 NTPS. All principals who reply to their NTPS principal questionnaire are included in the PFS sample; therefore, any discussion of PFS methodology builds upon the preceding NTPS methodology.

PFS data are collected using paper questionnaires (PFS-1, Principal Status Form), with non-respondents contacted by telephone for follow-up. The Principal Status Form consists of two questions – question 1 asks about the current occupational status of the principal who had been the principal during the previous school year, and question 2 collects the name of the previous year’s principal. The response options for the current occupational status for the PFS are used to designate the principals into one of the following general categories: stayers, movers, leavers, and other.

Why is this survey important?

The PFS provides the attrition rate for principals in K-12 public and private schools. Policymakers and educational leaders rely on data from the PFS to understand the effects of school policies and practices on principals’ decisions to remain in or leave their profession. Participation is important in order to analyze changes in the principal labor force.

What is the legal authority for conducting this survey?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education, is authorized to conduct this survey by the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA 2002, 20 U.S.C. §9543).

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval number for this survey is 1850-0617.

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts this survey on behalf of the NCES.

Why was I selected to be in this survey?

The PFS sample includes all current and former principals who were principals during the previous school year and completed an NTPS principal questionnaire. Participation is important in order to analyze changes in the principal labor force.

How can I respond to this survey?

You can respond in one of the following ways:

  • Completing the paper form mailed to you
  • By phone

You can get help by calling our toll-free number at 1-866-325-4957.  You may also email us at NTPS@census.gov.

How long will it take to complete this survey?

The PFS questionnaire will take approximately 5 minutes to complete.

How can I verify that the person contacting me is a Census Bureau employee?

If you have received a letter requesting you to participate in the survey, a Census Bureau employee may contact you to remind you to complete the survey. He or she will always provide you with his or her name and interviewer code to confirm employment with the Census Bureau.

To protect your privacy, the PFS NEVER asks for:

  • your Social Security number
  • your personal information via email
  • money or donations
  • credit card information

You can also verify the legitimacy of a call from the Census Bureau by visiting:

What if this survey is not relevant to my situation?

If you feel you received the PFS in error, please contact the Census Bureau toll-free at 1-866-325-4957 or by emailing at NTPS@census.gov

Is participation mandatory?

Participation in PFS is important in order to analyze changes in the principal labor force.

Your participation is voluntary, but your responses are necessary to make the results of this study accurate and timely. We encourage you to participate in this voluntary survey.

Can I be identified by my responses?

Please be assured that both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Census Bureau follow strict procedures to protect the confidentiality of study participants. All of the information you provide may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be disclosed, or used, in identifiable form for any other purpose except as required by law (20 U.S.C. §9573 and 6 U.S.C. §151).

More information on how your privacy is respected is available here.

How do I know my responses are safe?

The responses that are collected from surveys conducted by the Census Bureau are encrypted both in transit and at rest on the Census Bureau’s servers. These servers are part of a stand-alone network that is not accessible by the Internet. These servers are constantly monitored for any attempts at intrusion.

Where can I find the statistics produced by this survey?

PFS is designed to produce national estimates for principals in public and private schools. Downloadable reports, tables, and information regarding restricted-use data files from previous administrations of PFS are available here:

What if I have additional questions, recommendations, or issues that I need resolved?

Please contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-866-325-4957 if you have any questions about the survey. Someone will be available to take your call Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). The U.S. Census Bureau is also available to answer your questions via e-mail at: NTPS@census.gov.

If you have any comments concerning the accuracy of the time estimate, suggestions for improving this collection, or comments or concerns about the contents or the status of your individual submission of this questionnaire, please e-mail: NTPS@census.gov, or write directly to: National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), National Center for Education Statistics, Potomac Center Plaza, 550 12th Street, SW, Room 4014, Washington, DC 20202.

The Census Bureau has a web page “Are You In A Survey” designed to answer additional questions you might have about being in a Census survey.


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