Secondary Longitudinal Studies Program - Transcripts FAQ

Studies of secondary and postsecondary school student transcripts provide data on student course taking, credit accumulation, and academic performance. Used independently or combined with other sources of student data, transcripts can offer insights on student-level course-taking patterns and academic outcomes as well as institution- or national-level curricula. This is especially true when transcripts are added to the data collected by the five studies (NLS:72, HS&B, NELS:88, ELS:2002, and HSLS:09) that currently comprise the Secondary School Longitudinal Studies Program. Each of these studies includes or will include high school and/or postsecondary transcripts for the same cohort of students. The only study that does/will not include high school transcripts is NLS-72. The other four studies will include both high school and postsecondary transcript data.

Transcripts FAQs

What Transcript Studies Have Been Generated By The Secondary Longitudinal Studies? [top of page]

HSLS:2009 -- High school transcripts will be collected from this cohort of 2009 ninth graders during the fall of 2013 when most sample members will have graduated from high school. Postsecondary transcripts will be collected in 2021.

ELS:2002 – High school transcripts were collected from this cohort of 2002 sophomores in 2004 when most of the respondents had graduated from high school. Approximately 14,800 transcripts were collected. Postsecondary transcripts will be collected beginning in the spring of 2013.

NELS:88 -- The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88/2000), which began with a national sample of 25,000 8th graders in U.S. schools in 1988 and followed subgroups of this cohort to 2000. High school transcripts were collected from about 17,000 cohort members in the fall of 1992. The postsecondary transcripts for 8,900 members of this cohort were gathered in 2000, when most cohort members were 26 or 27 years old.

HS&B (senior cohort) -- High school transcripts were not collected from this cohort of 1980 high school seniors. In 1984, postsecondary transcripts were collected from approximately 7,500 sample members. At the same time that transcripts were being collected for this cohort, transcripts were also collected for the NLS-72 senior cohort (see below).

HS&B (sophomore cohort) -- High school transcripts were collected in 1982 for this sophomore cohort. The postsecondary transcripts for 8,400 members of this cohort were gathered in 1993, when most cohort members were 29 or 30 years old.

NLS72 -- The National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS:72), which began with a national sample of 22,500 12th graders in U.S. high schools in the spring of 1972 and followed subgroups of the cohort to 1986. The postsecondary transcripts for 12,600 members of this cohort were gathered in 1984, when most were 30 or 31 years old.

Are there transcripts available from other postsecondary studies? [top of page]

Yes. Most recently, NCES collected transcripts from each institution sample members attended in the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09) and the graduating institution for sample members in the Baccalaureate and Beyond Study (B&B:08).

Postsecondary Education Transcript Studies website
PETS FAQs (see below)

Are there transcripts available from NAEP? [top of page]

Yes. The NAEP site provides information on transcript studies that have been conducted in conjunction with NAEP senior high school studies.

NAEP Transcript website

How Do I Access the Transcript Data? [top of page]

NELS:88, ELS:2002, and HSLS:2009 (in future) are only available as restricted data files. Please contact nels88@ed.gov, els2002@ed.gov, or hsls09@ed.gov for more information.

For information on NLS-72 or HS&B transcript data, contact Aurora D’Amico .

How does NCES make transcripts comparable? [top of page]

To be useful, courses from individual transcripts must be comparable. A course title from one student’s transcript must be comparable to a similar course on a second student’s transcript. This is also true for credits awarded, grades assigned, and final course code. Thus, transcript studies require standardized coding systems for transcribing courses across institutions. Although separate coding systems are available for secondary and postsecondary courses, both share a similar structure that has been developed from the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP). Both the Classification of Secondary School Courses (CSSC) and the College Course Map (CCM) share the CIP’s 6-digit code structure, in which the first two digits represent a general category, the next two are assigned to a more specific subject within the main field, and the final two digits are at the most specific, course-level.

Does NCES have other Transcript web sites? [top of page]

At the current time, NCES has two other web sites that contain information on transcripts. The first is associated with NAEP (National Assessment for Education Progress) and the second with the postsecondary studies program area. The NAEP site provides information on transcript studies that have been conducted in conjunction with NAEP senior high school studies. The second is associated with the Postsecondary Education Transcript web site. The links to these two web sites are:

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/hsts/ NAEP Transcript web site
http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pets/ccm.asp Postsecondary Education Transcript web site

In an attempt to reduce duplication on the Secondary School transcript web site, the user is directed to the above two web sites. Similar transcript data collection methodologies and coding systems are used across NCES. In fact, NAEP and the Secondary School Longitudinal Studies group share methodologies for high school transcript studies. At the same time, the postsecondary education studies group and the Secondary School Longitudinal Studies group share methodologies for collecting postsecondary education transcripts.

For high school transcripts, the user is referred to the following NAEP web links:

How the High School Transcript Study Works
Learn how data are collected.
Learn how the courses are classified using the Classification of Secondary School Courses.
Find out how grade point average is calculated.

Postsecondary Transcripts

From whom does NCES collect postsecondary transcripts? [top of page]

NCES collects transcripts from individuals who are participating in sample surveys such as Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B), Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) longitudinal studies, and NCES’s Secondary School Longitudinal studies (e.g., National Longitudinal Study of 1972 (NLS:72); High School and Beyond (HS&B), National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88); Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002); and the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:2009). The transcript information is used in conjunction with other data collected from the student or institution and in the case of the secondary school longitudinal studies parents, principals, teachers, or counselors.

What are the first steps in collecting postsecondary transcripts? [top of page]

NCES collects transcripts from individuals who are participating in sample surveys such as Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B), Prior to coding postsecondary education transcripts, it is necessary to collect postsecondary education school catalogs from institutions attended by individuals participating in NCES sample surveys. These catalogs list the courses offered by the institution and provide a description of the courses. These descriptions help the transcript coders classify the courses contained on a student’s transcript into six digit course codes. The following four steps are typically implemented by the data collection contractor:

  1. Identify all postsecondary institutions attended by sample members.
  2. Search CollegeSource online to obtain course catalogs where available.
  3. Supplement catalogs with those obtained from institution web sites and making direct requests to institutions.
  4. Request transcripts (for all sample members) from all postsecondary institutions attended, including those identified on collected transcripts.

What methods are used to collect actual student transcripts? [top of page]

  1. Institutions upload electronic copies of requested transcripts to a secure website at NCES.
  2. Institutions fax to secure electronic fax server.
  3. Institutions send e-mail with encrypted attachment.
  4. Institutions send via secure File Transfer Protocol.
  5. Institutions send paper copies via Federal Express after redating personally identifiable information.
  6. Institutions utilize SPEEDE server (when available)

NOTE: SPEEDE server is a system that utilizes standard electronic format for transcripts. At the current time, over 200 institutions use this secure transmission protocol.

How are courses on transcripts transcribed to electronic format? [top of page]

Keyers/coders key data from transcripts (including terms attended, GPA, degree awarded, courses taken) and code each course into most recent coding taxonomy.

What course coding system is used? [top of page]

The current course coding system has over 2300 course codes. These codes were acquired from three sources. These sources were:

  1. Codes were listed in both the 2000 version of CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) and the College Coursemapping (CCM) document – 60 percent of all codes used;
  2. Codes unique to CCM document – 35 percent; and
  3. Codes added by Contractor – 5 percent.

NOTE: The College Course Map (CCM) is a taxonomy system for coding postsecondary education courses in NCES research studies. Originally developed in 1988 in support of the postsecondary transcript study in the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS-72), the taxonomy was updated 1993 for the High School and Beyond Study (HS&B) and again in 2000 for the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS:88/00) (Adelman, 2005). The 2010 College Course Map (CCM:2010) was updated in 2009 in support of two postsecondary education transcript collections. The 2009 Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS:09) incorporated transcript collections for the 2004/09 Beginning Postsecondary Education Students Longitudinal Study (BPS:04/09) and the 2008/09 Baccalaureate and Beyond Study (B&B:08/09).

What procedures were used to provide Quality Control of transcript keying and coding? [top of page]

In a typical postsecondary transcript coding operation, the following reviews are conducted:

  1. 100 percent coding quality review was conducted on “other”, “needs review”, and “uncodable” categories;
  2. 10 percent coding quality review was conducted for all courses not in “other” or “uncodable” categories;
  3. 10 percent check of all quality review results.