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Activity Number: 413
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 : 2:00 PM to 3:50 PM
Sponsor: Section on Survey Research Methods
Abstract - #304350
Title: Weighting in the Dark: What to Do in the Absence of Benchmarks
Author(s): Barbara Lepidus Carlson*+ and Jerry West
Companies: Mathematica Policy Research and Mathematica Policy Research
Address: 955 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA, 02139, United States
Keywords: Weighting ; FACES ; Benchmarking

The 2009 Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) involved four stages of sampling: Head Start programs, centers, classrooms, and children. At the time of sampling, eligible children were those who were one or two years away from kindergarten and were new to Head Start in fall 2009. These children were followed through their first year of Head Start, and then followed for one or two more years, depending on their age, through kindergarten. Children who left Head Start after fall 2009 but did not go to kindergarten were considered ineligible for followup. There existed no published population counts for the study's baseline population, nor were there existing benchmarks for the Head Start retention and kindergarten transfer rates needed to define the study population at followup. This paper shows the steps we took to make use of an earlier cohort of FACES to ensure that the baseline and followup weights, which adjusted for sampling and response patterns, appropriately reflected their respective target populations. We also show how different assumptions about eligibility among those with undetermined status can substantively affect estimated totals and mean estimates.

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