The National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS-72) is the grandmother of the longitudinal studies designed and conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education. At this point in time (1993), it is probably the richest archive ever assembled on a single generation of Americans.
Participants in the study were selected when they were seniors in high school in the spring of 1972, and in a supplementary sample drawn in 1973. The records include the "Base Year" survey; follow-up surveys in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, and 1986; high school records; and postsecondary transcripts (collected in 1984).
Researchers have drawn on this archive since its inception. The history of the Class of `72 from its high school years through its early 30s is widely considered as the baseline against which the progress and achievements of subsequent cohorts will be measured. The principal comparisons drawn to date have been to the second in the series of NCES longitudinal studies, the High School and Beyond cohorts of 1980 (seniors and sophomores in that year). In the future, researchers will also compare these generations to the eighth graders of the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988.
In 1981, Samuel Peng of NCES assembled an annotated bibliography of studies describing or using NLS-72 data (Taylor, Mary Ellen et al. National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 Study Reports Update: Review and Annotation ED 218 314). The period covered by this document was 1972 through 1981. Our intent in these pages is to update this work by identifying and describing the considerable number of studies using the NLS-72 published since Peng's work.
We do not pretend to have captured everything that has been written about the NLS-72 since 1980. In particular, we are probably missing many dissertations that did not turn up on the major radar screens of publications and public access documents. Nonetheless, we hope to make life easier for researchers and other interested parties in terms of their hunt for relevant literature.
The publication of this document will coincide (roughly) with the release, by NCES, of a CD-ROM containing the entire NLS-72 data archive, user's manuals and guides, and sample computer programs to help analysts configure the data.
July 17, 2012:Trends Among Young Adults Over Three Decades, 1974-2006
December 2, 2009:NCES-Barron's Admissions Competitiveness Index Data Files: 1972, 1982, 1992, 2004, 2008