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Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS)

Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS)

The Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS) is a survey of elementary and secondary school teachers who participated in the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) or its predecessor, the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), during the previous school year. The TFS consists of a subsample of teachers who left teaching within the year after the NTPS or SASS was administered and a subsample of those who continued teaching, including those who remained in the same school as the previous year and those who changed schools.

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 major objectives of the Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS) are to: 

  • measure the attrition rate for teachers; 
  • examine the characteristics of teachers who stayed in the teaching profession and those who changed professions or retired; 
  • obtain activity or occupational data for those who left the position of a K-12 teacher; 
  • obtain reasons for moving to a new school or leaving the K-12 teaching profession; and  
  • collect data on job satisfaction. 

Historically, the TFS has been conducted the school year following the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS). The TFS has been conducted seven times: in the 1988–89, 1991–92, 1994–95, 2000–01, 2004–05, 2008–09, and 2012–13 school years (following SASS administrations in the 1987–88, 1990–91, 1993–94, 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12 school years, respectively). The SASS underwent a redesign and reorganization to the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), and the first NTPS was conducted during the 2015-16 school year. The TFS was originally scheduled to be conducted during the 2016–2017 school year—the school year following the 2015-16 NTPS. However, the collection was cancelled during the summer of 2016 due to low teacher response rates on the 2015-16 NTPS. The next administration of the TFS will be during the 2021-22 school year, following the 2020-21 NTPS.

The TFS utilizes primarily internet and paper data collection instruments. It is composed of two questionnaires: the Former Teacher Questionnaire and the Current Teacher Questionnaire.  

The TFS-2 Former Teacher Questionnaire collects information from sampled teachers who leave the K-12 teaching position within the year after SASS or NTPS. Topics include current occupation, primary activity, plans to remain in their current position, plans for further education, plans for returning to teaching, reasons for leaving teaching, possible areas of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with teaching, salary, student debt, marital status, number of children, and reasons for retirement, as well as any other information that may be related to attrition.

The TFS-3 Current Teacher Questionnaire collects information from sampled teacher who currently teach students in any of grades prekindergarten through 12 in the same school as in the previous year and those who changed schools. Topics include occupational status (full time, part time), primary teaching assignment by field, teaching certificate, level of students taught, areas of satisfaction or dissatisfaction, new degrees earned or pursued, expected duration in teaching, marital status, number of children, academic year base salary, student debt, time spent performing school related tasks, and effectiveness of the school administration. If the teacher is teaching in a different school than during the previous school year, the questionnaire obtains information on the teacher's reasons for leaving the previous school.

Why is this survey important?

Policymakers and educational leaders rely on data from the TFS survey to inform their decisions concerning K–12 schools. The TFS provides important insight into the career paths of teachers, and the information collected on this survey is focused on how changes in your career and life may affect your work. Information collected on this survey will help to:

  • measure teacher retention and attrition;
  • understand the effects of school policies and practices on teachers’ decisions to remain in or leave the profession; and
  • describe how teachers feel about the workplace conditions in their current position relative to last year’s teaching position.

Responses collected on this survey on teacher working conditions, job satisfaction, and perceptions and attitudes are combined with those of other teachers from all over the country. This information provides an overall portrait of today’s teachers.

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 TFS consists of a subsample of teachers who completed their NTPS questionnaire who left teaching within the year after the NTPS was administered and a subsample of those who continued teaching, including those who remained in the same school as in the previous year and those who changed schools.

This survey provides important insight into the career paths of teachers, and your participation will contribute to the success of this survey. You were chosen at random as part of this scientific study, and we cannot replace you with anyone else. Your answers will ensure that current and former teachers like yourself are counted.

How can I respond to this survey?

You can respond in one of the following ways:

  • Completing via the web survey
  • Completing the paper form mailed to you
  • By phone

You can get help by calling our toll-free number at 1-888-595-1338.  You may also email us at NTPS@census.gov.

How long will it take to complete this survey?

The TFS questionnaire will take approximately 10 to 22 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. The interviewer will always provide you with his or her name and interviewer code to confirm employment with the Census Bureau.

To protect your privacy, the TFS 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 TFS in error, please contact the Census Bureau toll-free at 1-888-595-1338 or by emailing at NTPS@census.gov

Is participation mandatory?

Your participation in the TFS 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?

The TFS is designed to obtain measures of teacher attrition and retention and allows data users to analyze changes in the teacher labor force. The TFS also makes it possible to understand the effects of school policies and practices on teachers’ decisions to remain in or leave the profession. Downloadable reports and tables from previous administrations of TFS are available here:

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

Please contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-888-595-1338 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.

Page Last Revised - March 14, 2023
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