Some of the key terms related to HS&B are defined below.
Cognitive Tests. Achievement tests administered to both cohorts in the base-year survey and only to the sophomore cohort in the first follow-up. For the sophomore cohort, the content in the base-year and first follow-up achievement tests was as follows: (1) vocabulary (21 items, 7 minutes), using a synonym format; (2) reading (20 items, 15 minutes), consisting of short passages (100–200 words) followed by comprehension questions and a few analysis and interpretation items; (3) mathematics (38 items, 21 minutes), in which students were asked to determine which of two quantities was greater, whether they were equal, or whether there were insufficient data to answer the question; (4) science (20 items, 10 minutes), based on science knowledge and scientific reasoning ability; (5) writing (17 items, 10 minutes), based on writing ability and knowledge of basic grammar; and (6) civics education (10 questions, 5 minutes), based on various principles of law, government, and social behavior. Seniors in the base-year survey were given a cognitive test with items in the following categories: vocabulary (27 items, 9 minutes), reading (20 items, 15 minutes), mathematics (33 items, 19 minutes), picture-number pairs (15 items, 5 minutes), mosaic comparisons (89 items, 6 minutes), visualization in three dimensions (16 items, 9 minutes), and questions about the test (5 minutes).
Course Offering and Course Taking. Course offering data were collected from the School Questionnaires filled out by school administrators; course offerings included regular and advanced placement curricula provided by the schools. Course taking data were collected in different ways for the sophomore and senior cohorts. For sophomores, official high school transcripts provided records of students’ coursework. For the senior cohort, high school transcripts were not available; instead, coursework was self-reported by seniors in a series of items asking retrospectively about the courses and hours taken. Despite these differences in data collection, the listings of courses for the two cohorts were consistent, including major subjects in both regular and advanced placement curricula.
Socioeconomic Status (SES). The level of a student’s SES was a composite variable, constructed from a set of variables from the base–year and first follow–up data, including father’s occupation, father’s education, mother’s education, family income, and material possessions in the household.