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Responsibility for the United States Census of Agriculture was transferred from the U. S. Census Bureau to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for the 1997 Census. Substantial changes are planned for the report forms and instructions to be used in the following 2002 Census of Agriculture. Changes include content, wording, and format of the report forms. Due to the magnitude of the changes to the 2002 report form, a multi-phase test was conducted to evaluate and improve the quality of the data collected with this form. This Census Content Test was conducted in three phases : 1) cognitive pretesting, 2) split panel pilot test with 3 versions of a new draft report form, and 3) follow up interviews. A toll free telephone number respondents could call for assistance was printed on all of the report forms mailed out in the second phase of the Census Content Test. This number was staffed by NASS enumerators throughout the data collection period. Calls made by respondents to the help line were evaluated as part of the Census Content Test. The number and type of problems that respondents reported in calls to the toll free telephone line was compared across the different versions of the forms and for different types of respondents. Examples of problems which indicated areas where forms or instructions might be improved are provided. How this evaluation was used to support other types of evaluations in the content test is also discussed.


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