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Education Statistics Quarterly
Vol 6, Issues 1 & 2, Topic: Elementary and Secondary Education
The High School Sophomore Class of 2002: A Demographic Description—First Results From the Base Year of the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002
By: Steven J. Ingels and Leslie A. Scott
 
This article was originally published as the Executive Summary of the E.D. TAB report of the same name. The sample survey data are from the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002).  
 
 

The data for this report, The High School Sophomore Class of 2002: A Demographic Description, describe the demographic characteristics and tested achievement of a cohort based on a nationally representative probability sample of 15,362 10th-graders in 752 public, Catholic, and other private schools who were studied in the spring term of the 2001–02 school year. The base-year data collection for the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) is the first wave of a new longitudinal study of high school students that continues a series of nationally representative longitudinal studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in recent decades. Future survey waves will follow both students and high school dropouts and will monitor the transition of the cohort to postsecondary education, the labor force, and family formation. Although the base-year study comprised surveys of parents, teachers, school administrators, and library media specialists, as well as the cohort of high school sophomores, this report draws primarily on data from students, the primary unit of analysis for the study. (Parent, teacher, librarian, and school surveys provide contextual data for better understanding the student cohort.)

This E.D. TAB report summarizes the sociodemographic and educational characteristics of the cohort. These characteristics are captured in a series of student- and school-level classification variables. At the student level, these variables are sex, age, race/ethnicity, language minority status, family composition, parental education, students' educational expectations, and tested achievement. Also included are three characteristics of each student's school: sector (public, Catholic, or other private), metropolitan status (urban, suburban, or rural), and region in which it is located (Northeast, Midwest, South, or West).

Selected Findings

Various background characteristics and differences may influence the educational experiences, achievement, and expectations of students as they progress through high school. Selected characteristics of the high school sophomore class of 2002 are as follows:
  • The majority of sophomores are White (60 percent). Hispanics and Blacks make up 16 percent and 14 percent of the sophomore cohort, respectively; Asian and multiracial sophomores each constitute 4 percent; and American Indians/Alaska Natives constitute 1 percent of the sophomore cohort.
  • There are differences by racial/ethnic group in the likelihood that English is a sophomore's native language. English is the native language of 94 percent of Black and 97 percent of White sophomores. It is the native language of 37 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander and 48 percent of Hispanic sophomores.
  • About 57 percent of sophomores live in a family with both of their biological or adoptive parents. Others live in a single-parent household (22 percent), or with their mother or father and a guardian (17 percent). Still others (4 percent) live in a variety of other arrangements.
Reading and mathematics achievement were assessed in terms of various levels of skill and content mastery, or proficiency. Selected findings are as follows:
  • Overall, in mathematics, 92 percent of sophomores are able to perform simple arithmetical operations on whole numbers (proficiency level 1) (figure A).
  • Overall, in reading, 89 percent of sophomores have mastered the skills of simple reading comprehension (proficiency level 1) (figure B).

Figure A. Percentage of high school sophomores, by demonstrated mathematics proficiency: 2002
Figure A. Percentage of high school sophomores, by demonstrated mathematics proficiency: 2002

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002). (Originally published as figure 5 on p. 11 of the complete report from which this article is excerpted.)

Figure B. Percentage of high school sophomores, by demonstrated reading proficiency: 2002
Figure B. Percentage of high school sophomores, by demonstrated reading proficiency: 2002

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002). (Originally published as figure 6 on p. 12 of the complete report from which this article is excerpted.)

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Data source: The NCES Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002).

For technical information, see the complete report:

Ingels, S.J., and Scott, L.A. (2004). The High School Sophomore Class of 2002: A Demographic Description-First Results From the Base Year of the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (NCES 2004–371).

Author affiliations: S.J. Ingels, RTI International; L.A. Scott, Education Statistics Services Institute.

For questions about content, contact Jeffrey A. Owings (jeffrey.owings@ed.gov).

To obtain the complete report (NCES 2004–371), visit the NCES Electronic Catalog (http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch).


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