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PEDAR: Research Methodology  First-Generation Students in Postsecondary Education: A Look at Their College Transcripts
The Naitonal Education Longitudinal Study of 1988
The NELS:88 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study
Analysis Sample and Weights
Accuracy of Estimates
Data Analysis System
Statistical Procedures
Differences Between Means
Linear Trends
Multivariate Commonality Analysis
Executive Summary
Full Report (PDF)
Executive Summary (PDF)
 The NELS:88 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study

The major source of data for this report came from the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS), collected as part of NELS:88 in 2000. The PETS targeted the transcripts from all U.S. postsecondary institutions attended by NELS sample members in the fourth follow-up survey. It supplements the postsecondary education information collected from the 1994 and 2000 follow-ups by including detailed information on the types of degree programs, periods of enrollment, majors or fields of study for instructional programs, specific courses taken, grades and credits attained, and credentials earned. Compared with self-reported data, transcript data are less prone to error and more objective and permit a more accurate analysis for studies like this one.

Approximately 12,100 students participated in the NELS fourth follow-up study in 2000 (Adelman, Daniel, and Berkovits 2003). Within this panel, about 9,600 students (75 percent, weighted) reported having attended at least one postsecondary institution according to either the third follow-up study in 1994 or the fourth follow-up study in 2000. Within this sample of students, the transcript data collection further targeted students who attended only postsecondary institutions identified in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) institutional data file, therefore, excluding postsecondary information collected from foreign institutions, non-degree-granting programs, and non-credit-granting institutions. Transcripts were requested from a total of 3,200 postsecondary institutions. Based on the transcripts received and, when they were not, other corroborating sources from National Student Loan Data System files, Advanced Placement and College Entrance Examination Board tests, and other student responses, about 9,400 students were identified as “likely postsecondary participants,” resulting in a weighted overall response rate of 95 percent. These students form the base from which the analysis sample was selected.

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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education