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Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002)


Using the multilevel and longitudinal information from the base year (2002) and first follow-up (2004) of ELS:2002 will help researchers and policymakers explore and better understand such issues as the importance of home background and parental aspirations for a childís success; the influence of different curriculum paths and special programs; the effectiveness of different high schools; and whether a schoolís effectiveness varies with its size, organization, climate or ethos, curriculum, academic press, or other characteristics. These data will facilitate an understanding of the impact of various instructional methods and curriculum content and exposure in bringing about educational growth and achievement.

After the high school years, ELS:2002 will continue to follow its sample of students into postsecondary education and/or the labor market. For students who continue on to higher education, data collected from the second follow-up and the third follow-up will help researchers measure the effects of these studentsí high school careers on subsequent access to postsecondary institutions; their choices of institutions and programs; and, as time goes on, their postsecondary persistence, attainment, and eventual entry into the labor force and adult roles. For students who go directly into the workforce (whether as dropouts or high school graduates), ELS:2002 will be able to determine how well high schools have prepared these students for the labor market and how they fare within it.

Apart from helping to describe the status of high school students and their schools, the second and third follow-up data will provide information to help address a number of key policy and research questions. The study is intended to produce a comprehensive dataset for the development and evaluation of education policy at all government levels. Part of its aim is to inform decision-makers, educational practitioners, and parents about the changes in the operation of the education system over time and the effects of various elements of the system on the lives of the individuals who pass through it. Issues that can be addressed with data collected in the high school years include the following:

  • studentsí academic growth in mathematics;
  • the process of dropping out of high schoolódeterminants and consequences;
  • the role of family background and the home education support system in fostering studentsí educational success;
  • the features of effective schools;
  • the impact of coursetaking choices on success in the high school years (and thereafter);
  • the equitable distribution of educational opportunities as registered in the distinctive school experiences and performance of students from various subgroups; and
  • steps taken to facilitate the transition from high school to postsecondary education or the world of work.

After ELS:2002 students have completed high school, a new set of issues can be examined using data from the second and third follow-ups. These issues include 

  • the later educational and labor market activities of high school dropouts;
  • the transition of students who do not go directly on to postsecondary education or the world of work;
  • access to, and choice of, undergraduate and graduate education institutions;
  • persistence in attaining postsecondary educational goals;
  • rate of progress through the postsecondary curriculum;
  • degree attainment;
  • barriers to persistence and attainment;
  • entry of new postsecondary graduates into the workforce;
  • social and economic rate of return on education to both the individual and society; and
  • adult roles, such as family formation and civic participation.