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Technical Report:

The 1994 High School Transcript Study Technical Report

August 1997

(NCES 97-262) Ordering information

Executive Summary

The 1994 High School Transcript Study (HSTS) was conducted by Westat, Inc. for the U.S. Department of Education's . This study provides the Department of Education and other educational policymakers with information regarding current course offerings and students' course-taking patterns in the nation's secondary schools. Since similar studies were conducted of course-taking patterns of 1982, 1987, and 1990 graduates, one research objective was to study changes in these patterns. In particular, the data from the 1994 study permit analysts to investigate the impact of the Core Curriculum recommended by the National Commission on Excellence in Education in 1983./1 Another research objective was to compare course-taking patterns to study results on the 1994 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP is a Federally-funded, ongoing, periodic assessment of educational achievement in the various subject areas and disciplines taught in the nation's schools. Since 1969, NAEP has gathered information about the levels of educational achievement of 9-, 13-, and 17-year-old students across the country.

In the Summer and Fall of 1994, Westat collected high school transcripts from over 25,000 students who graduated from American high schools in 1994. These students attended 340 schools that were sampled for NAEP in 1994. The sample of schools was nationally representative of all schools in the United States, and the sample of students was representative of graduating seniors from each school. While the NAEP sample included students who were enrolled in the 12th grade at the time of the NAEP sampling, the transcript study included only those students whose transcripts indicated that they graduated between January 1, 1994 and November 21, 1994, the date the final transcripts were collected./2

Approximately 90 percent of the students included in the transcript study also participated in NAEP assessments in 1994. The remaining students were sampled specifically for the transcript study either because their schools did not agree to participate in the NAEP study, or because the schools participated in NAEP but did not retain their administration materials linking student identification numbers to student names.

The 1994 High School Transcript Study is documented in three reports:

  • The 1994 High School Transcript Study Technical Report - This is the document you are now reading. It documents the procedures used to collect and summarize the data.
  • The 1994 High School Transcript Study Tabulations - The Tabulations volume provides copious tables summarizing the course-taking patterns of 1994 high school graduates and comparing them to those of their counterparts in 1982, 1987, and 1990. It also provides tables describing the relationship of the course taking patterns of 1994 graduates to their proficiencies in reading, geography, and history as measured by the 1994 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
  • The 1994 High School Transcript Study Data File User's Manual - The Data File User's Manual provides a detailed description of all publicly released data files that were produced by the study.


[1] In its report to the Secretary of Education entitled "A Nation at Risk," the National Commission on Excellence in Education's first recommendation was "We recommend that State and local high school graduation requirements be strengthened and that, at a minimum, all students seeking a diploma be required to lay the foundations in the Five New Basics by taking the following curriculum during their 4 years of high school: (a) 4 years of English; (b) 3 years of mathematics; (c) 3 years of science; (d) 3 years of social studies; and (e) one-half year of computer science. For the college-bound, 2 years of foreign language in high school are strongly recommended in addition to those taken earlier." For the sake of brevity, this recommended set of courses is referred to as "the Core Curriculum."

[2] An analysis of the 1990 High School Transcript Study data showed that only 0.17 percent of the students with known graduation dates graduated between September 1 and December 31 and that only 1.13 percent graduated in July and August. Approximately 90 percent of the transcripts were collected in August and September 1994 and the remainder in October and November.

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