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Statistical Standards Program

Appendix H: Restricted-Use Databases

NCES Restricted-use Databases

National Center for Education Statistics survey data cover educational assessment from the elementary/secondary level to the college level. The surveys focus on many different aspects of the welfare of education in the nation, tracking individuals through their educational program and assessing the well-being of education within the United States.

These are the three broad survey areas:

  • Elementary/Secondary Education
  • Postsecondary Education
  • National Assessment of Educational Progress

The data that are collected from these survey efforts are analyzed and presented in many reports and documents. Research efforts are conducted both internally by the Department of Education, within NCES, and also by external educational researchers.

Following are general descriptions of the current NCES survey databases that contain individually identifiable information, but that are available under the Privacy Act of 1974 and the National Education Statistics Act of 1994, as amended. Each database description serves to define the purpose(s) for which the survey data were collected.

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Elementary/Secondary Survey Data

  • National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88): NELS:88 is intended to produce a general purpose data set for the development and examination of education policy. It is designed to examine the changes over time in the operation of the educational system, and the effects various elements of the system have on the lives of the individuals who go through it. NELS:88 continues the effort made in the two prior major longitudinal studies sponsored by NCES, the National Longitudinal Study of 1972 (NLS-72) and High School and Beyond (HS&B), but it also seeks to expand the knowledge base by following students from an earlier age (eighth grade) and by updating information throughout the 1990s. NELS:88 includes student, parent, teacher, and school administrator questionnaires. Cognitive tests were also administered. NELS:88 databases include the NELS:88 Base Year, First Followup (1990), Second Followup (1992), Third Followup (1994), and the Fourth Follow up (2000).

      NELS:88 Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • The transition from elementary to secondary school;
      • The students' academic growth over time;
      • The features of effective schools;
      • The process of dropping out of school, as it occurs from 8th grade on;
      • The role of the school in helping the disadvantaged;
      • The school experiences and academic performance of language minority students;
      • Attracting students to the study of mathematics and science; and
      • The transition from high school to college (postsecondary access and choice).

  • Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS): The Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) is the nation's largest sample survey of the characteristics and conditions of America's public and private schools and the teachers and principals who work in them. Conducted by the NCES, SASS offers a source of data for policymakers, educators, education researchers, and the general public.

    SASS was conducted in school years 1987-88, 1990-91, 1993-94 and 1999-2000. In the 1999-2000 administration, SASS will collect information on a number of new topics crucial to education reform from principals, and school heads, schools, school districts, and school library media centers. At the same time, SASS will retain or expand many of the topics covered in previous administrations, maintaining SASS' capability for trend analysis.

    New content on the 1999-2000 survey includes measures of school and district performance reports, computer usage, standards for home-schooled students, charter schools and migrant students. SASS continues to measure teacher and principal demographics, teacher training, experience, certification, assignment and salary, qualities of newly hired teachers, teacher migration and attrition, professional development, parent involvement, school safety, school programs and services, and many other phenomenon.

    One year after its 1999-2000 administration, SASS conducts the Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS). TFS adds to our understanding of teachers' decisions to either stay in the profession or leave by measuring teacher retention, mobility, and attrition from the profession at the national level in both public and private schools. TFS identifies those who remained in the same schools, those who moved to other schools, and those who left teaching. TFS has been implemented in school years 1988-89, 1991-92, 1994-95, and 2000-2001.

      SASS Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • Teacher supply and demand, including teacher qualifications, hiring practices, etc.;
      • Teacher working conditions, including their teaching load, their attitudes, experience, professional development, etc.;
      • Availability of school programs and services, such as Limited English Proficiency, advanced placement, etc.;
      • School leadership qualities, such as the academic preparation of principals, professional development, etc.;
      • Parental involvement in schools and its facilitation; and
      • The characteristics of school districts, including their criteria for hiring teachers, student enrollment, teacher salaries, etc.

  • National Household Education Survey (NHES): NHES was the first attempt by the National Center for Education Statistics to collect data from a household survey using random digit telephone dialing. The survey is designed to collect detailed information on educational issues, such as how the family plays a role in the child's educational progress. Topical components have included Early Childhood Education/Early Childhood Program Participation (NHES:1991 and NHES:1995), Adult Education (NHES:1991 and NHES:1995), School Readiness (NHES:1993), School Safety and Discipline (NHES:1993), Parent and Family Involvement in Education (NHES:1996), Civic Involvement (NHES:1996), and Household and Public Library Use (NHES:1996). NHES repeats topical components on a rotating basis in order to provide comparative data across survey years. NHES was conducted in 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, and 2001 on a biennial basis thereafter.

      NHES Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • Early childhood education;
      • School-aged children's participation in before- and after-school programs; access and plans to finance postsecondary education;
      • Adult and continuing education; family support for and parental involvement in education;
      • School safety and discipline;
      • Involvement in civic activities;
      • Grade retention;
      • Extra-school learning; and
      • Home-based education.

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Postsecondary Survey Data

  • National Postsecondary Student Aid Survey (NPSAS): NPSAS is the most comprehensive nationwide study of financial assistance to students attending postsecondary institutions. NPSAS collects information on student demographics, family income, education expenses, employment, education aspirations, parental demographic characteristics, parental support, and how students and their families meet the costs of postsecondary education. It includes nationally representative samples of undergraduates, graduates, and professional students; students attending less-than-2-year institutions, 2- and 3- year schools, 4-year colleges, and universities. Students who receive financial aid as well as those who do not receive aid, and a sample of their parents, participate in NPSAS. Results of the study are used to help determine future federal policy regarding student financial aid. NPSAS was conducted in 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, and 1999.

      NPSAS Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • The participation of students in financial aid programs with the goal of identifying institutional, student, and family characteristics, and others related to program participation;
      • Special population enrollment--including students with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, students taking remedial/developmental courses, students from families with low incomes, and older students--in postsecondary education;
      • The distribution of students by major field of study--major fields of particular interest include mathematics, science, engineering, as well as teacher preparation and health studies--; and
      • Factors associated with the choice of postsecondary institution, participation in postsecondary vocational education, parental support for postsecondary education, and occupation and educational aspirations.

  • Recent College Graduates (RCG): The Recent College Graduates Study estimated the potential supply of newly qualified teachers. It was a study of the immediate post-degree employment and education experiences of persons who obtained bachelor's or master's degrees from an American college or university, with a heavy emphasis on those graduates qualified to teach at the elementary and secondary levels.

    The RCG was conducted periodically from 1976 to 1991. The only restricted-use version of the database is for 1991. In 1993, NCES established a longitudinal survey, Baccalaureate and Beyond, of graduating college seniors, which replaced the RCG survey.

      RCG Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • The number and percent of recent graduates who are qualified to teach and who enter the teaching profession;
      • The kinds of jobs recent college graduates are getting by program area or major field;
      • The extent to which graduates get jobs in the area of their major field;
      • The extent to which jobs differ for men and women who graduate in the same program or major field;
      • Unemployment of graduates; and
      • Jobs obtained by baccalaureate or master's degree recipients that do not require a 4-year college degree.

  • National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF): The quality of postsecondary education is directly affected by faculty and instructors in postsecondary institutions. The National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), which is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, was designed to provide reliable and current data about faculty-who they are; what they do; and whether, how, and why they are changing-for postsecondary education researchers, planners, and policy makers. Components include an Institutional Survey, Department Chairperson Survey (only conducted as part of NSOPF-88), and a Faculty Survey. NSOPF was conducted in 1987-88, 1992-93, and 1998-1999. The next NSOPF is scheduled for 2003-04.

      NSOPF Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • Whether the postsecondary labor force is declining or increasing;
      • Faculty job satisfaction and how it correlates with an area of specialization, and how background and specialization skills relate to present assignments;
      • Comparisons on academic rank and outside employment;
      • Benefits and compensation across institutions, and faculty can be aggregated by sociodemographic characteristics.

  • Baccalaureate and Beyond Survey (B&B): The B&B provides information concerning education and work experiences after completing the bachelor's degree. It provides cross-sectional information one year after bachelor's degree completion (comparable to the Recent College Graduate survey) and longitudinal data concerning entry into and progress through graduate level education and the work force. B&B provides information not available through followups involving high school cohorts or even college entry cohorts, both of which are restricted in the number who actually complete the bachelor's degree and continue their education. B&B will follow baccalaureate degree completers identified in alternating NPSAS surveys, beginning with NPSAS:1993. (The next scheduled B&B cohort will be associated with NPSAS:2000.) B&B plans to follow each cohort for about a 12-year period. The B&B survey was conducted in 1994 (B&B:1993/1994) and 1997 (B&B:1993/1997), and there will be another followup of the B&B:1993 cohort, probably in 2002. The NPSAS:2000 B&B cohort had only one follow-up, in 2001 (B&B:2000/2001).

      B&B Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • Entry into the work force and rates of return;
      • Longitudinal perspective on the graduate education/work interaction and the longer range information concerning newly qualified teachers and their entry into and continuation in the field;
      • Access to graduate or professional programs include timing, the application process, and entry into the program;
      • Attainment/outcome questions include completion time of BA, timing of entry into the work force, and relationship of field of study to area of employment;
      • Rate of return questions, particularly those associated with immediate entry into the work force after completion of the bachelor's degree;
      • The interaction between education and work; and
      • Issues associated with entry into public service areas such as teaching and relative career advancement.

  • Beginning Postsecondary Student Longitudinal Survey (BPS): BPS was designed to complement the high school cohort longitudinal studies and to improve data on participants in postsecondary education. Because older students are increasingly included in postsecondary education as well as recent high school graduates, high school cohort studies are not representative of all postsecondary participants at a given point in time. BPS includes these "nontraditional" as well as "traditional" students and is representative of all beginning students in postsecondary education. BPS will follow first-time, beginning students identified in alternating NPSAS surveys; the first BPS cohort followed NPSAS:90 students in 1992 and 1994. A second cohort is now made up of NPSAS:96 students who were followed in 1998 (BPS:1996/1998), and will again be interviewed in 2001 (BPS:1996/2001).

      BPS Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • Persistence, progress, and attainment from the initial time of entry into postsecondary education through leaving and entering the work force; and
      • The differences (if any) between traditional (recent high school graduates) and nontraditional students in aspirations, progress, persistence, and attainment.

  • High School and Beyond (HS&B): HS&B was designed to examine education issues that arose after NCES began its first longitudinal study (National Longitudinal Study of 1972). Declining test scores and minimum competency testing, for example, caused concern among parents and educators alike. So did the rate at which many students dropped out of high school before graduation. Increased opportunities in secondary school vocational education opened new ideas for youth attentive to their futures. And, anxiety over access to postsecondary and vocational education brought sharper focus on the education experiences of Hispanic and other minority youths.

    HS&B studied the high school students of 1980, and while it attempted to collect he same types of data gathered in the NLS-72, it also addressed many newer elements of the educational process and included a sophomore cohort as well as a senior cohort. Adding the sophomore cohort makes it possible to address the issue of high school dropouts, and to study changes and processes during high school. HS&B data were collected in 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, and, for sophomore, 1992.

      HS&B Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • How, when, and why students enroll in postsecondary education institutions;
      • Whether those who (while in high school) expected to complete the baccalaureate (BA) degree actually do so;
      • How the percentage of recent graduates from a given cohort who enter the work force in their field has changed over the past years;
      • The medium-term effects of not completing high school in the traditional way, and how employment and earning event histories of traditional high school graduates differ from those who did not finish high school in the traditional manner;
      • Whether individuals who attend college earn more than those who do not attend college, and the effect of student financial aid;
      • The percentage of college graduates who are eligible or qualified to enter a public service profession such as teaching;
      • How many enter the work force full time in the area for which they are qualified;
      • How and in what ways public and private schools differ.

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Educational Assessment Data

  • National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): NAEP is a survey of the educational achievement of American students and changes in that achievement across time. Nationally representative samples of students have been assessed in science, mathematics, and reading at ages 9, 12, and 17 since the early 1970s. Students have been assessed in writing at grades 4, 8, and 11 since 1984.

    Since 1990, main NAEP has also been conducted for states and other jurisdictions that choose to participate (47 participated in 1996). State data are usually available at grades 4 and/or 8, and may not include all subjects assessed in the national-level assessment.

    To provide context for the achievement results, NAEP additionally collects demographic, curricular, and instructional background information from students, teachers, and school administrators.

    To maintain its reputation as "The Nation's Report Card" and to enhance its serviceability to the nation, NAEP is undergoing a deliberately incremental redesign of its program. Beginning in 2000, main NAEP will reflect the results of extensive redesign. For example, assessments will take place annually. Restricted-use versions of the database are available as of the 1990 survey.

      NAEP Policy and Research Issues Include:
      • What instructional methods are being used and how these relate to achievement;
      • How many students appear to be at-risk, in terms of achievement, and what their characteristics are;
      • The characteristics of teachers of various subjects; and
      • What, if any, policy changes are being made by our nation's schools.

Note: As surveys addressing institutions (not individuals), the Common Core of Data (CCD) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) are not governed under the Privacy Act of 1974. These data are all public-use.

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