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Digest of Education Statistics: 2017
Digest of Education Statistics: 2017

NCES 2018-070
January 2018

Appendix A.2. High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study

The High School and Beyond Longitudinal Study (HS&B) is a nationally representative sample survey of individuals who were high school sophomores and seniors in 1980. As a large-scale, longitudinal survey, its primary purpose is to observe the educational and occupational plans and activities of young people as they pass through the American educational system and take on their adult roles. The study contributes to the understanding of the development of young adults and the factors that determine individual education and career outcomes. The availability of this longitudinal data encourages research in such areas as the strength of secondary school curricula, the quality and effectiveness of secondary and postsecondary schooling, the demand for postsecondary education, problems of financing postsecondary education, and the adequacy of postsecondary alternatives open to high school students.

The HS&B survey gathered data on the education, work, and family experiences of young adults for the pivotal years during and immediately following high school. The student questionnaire covered school experiences, activities, attitudes, plans, selected background characteristics, and language proficiency. Parents were asked about their educational aspirations for their children and plans for how their postsecondary education would be financed. Teachers were surveyed regarding their assessments of their students’ futures. The survey also collected detailed information, from complete high school transcripts, on courses taken and grades achieved.

The base-year survey (conducted in 1980) was a probability sample of 1,015 high schools with a target number of 36 sophomores and 36 seniors in each school. A total of 58,270 students participated in the base-year survey. Substitutions were made for nonparticipating schools—but not for students––in those strata where it was possible. Overall, 1,120 schools were selected in the original sample and 810 of these schools participated in the survey. An additional 200 schools were drawn in a replacement sample. Student refusals and absences resulted in an 82 percent completion rate for the survey.

Several small groups in the population were oversampled to allow for special study of certain types of schools and students. Students completed questionnaires and took a battery of cognitive tests. In addition, a sample of parents of sophomores and seniors (about 3,600 for each cohort) was surveyed.

HS&B first follow-up activities took place in the spring of 1982. The sample for the first follow-up survey included approximately 30,000 individuals who were sophomores in 1980. The completion rate for sample members eligible for on-campus survey administration was about 96 percent. About 89 percent of the students who left school between the base-year and first follow-up surveys (e.g., dropouts, transfer students, and early graduates) completed the first follow-up sophomore questionnaire.

As part of the first follow-up survey of HS&B, transcripts were requested in fall 1982 for an 18,150-member subsample of the sophomore cohort. Of the 15,940 transcripts actually obtained, 12,120 transcripts represented students who had graduated in 1982 and thus were eligible for use in the overall curriculum analysis presented in this publication. All courses in each transcript were assigned a 6-digit code based on the Classification of Secondary School Courses (a coding system developed to standardize course descriptions; see Credits earned in each course are expressed in Carnegie units. (The Carnegie unit is a standard of measurement that represents one credit for the completion of a 1-year course. To receive credit for a course, the student must have received a passing grade––“pass,” “D,” or higher.) Students who transferred from public to private schools or from private to public schools between their sophomore and senior years were eliminated from public/private analyses.

In designing the senior cohort first follow-up survey, one of the goals was to reduce the size of the retained sample while still keeping sufficient numbers of various racial/ethnic groups to allow important policy analyses. A total of about 11,230 of the 12,000 individuals subsampled (93.6 percent) completed the questionnaire. Information was obtained about the respondents’ school and employment experiences, family status, and attitudes and plans.

The samples for the second follow-up, which took place in spring 1984, consisted of about 12,000 members of the senior cohort and about 15,000 members of the sophomore cohort. The completion rate for the senior cohort was 91 percent, and the completion rate for the sophomore cohort was 92 percent.

HS&B third follow-up data collection activities were performed in spring 1986. Both the sophomore and senior cohort samples for this round of data collection were the same as those used for the second follow-up survey. The completion rates for the sophomore and senior cohort samples were 91 percent and 88 percent, respectively.

HS&B fourth follow-up data collection activities were performed in 1992 but only covered the 1980 sophomore class. These activities included examining aspects of these students’ early adult years, such as enrollment in postsecondary education, experience in the labor market, marriage and child rearing, and voting behavior. In the postsecondary transcript update conducted in 1993, transcripts were collected based on student reports of enrollment in postsecondary education.

An NCES series of technical reports and data file user’s manuals, available electronically, provides additional information on the survey methodology.

Further information on HS&B may be obtained from

Aurora D'Amico
Longitudinal Surveys Branch
Sample Surveys Division
National Center for Education Statistics
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202