|LONGITUDINAL SAMPLE SURVEY OF THE 8TH-GRADE CLASS OF 1988; BASE-YEAR SURVEY AND FOUR FOLLOW-UPS THROUGH 2000|
|NELS:88 collected data from:|
The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) was the third major secondary education longitudinal survey sponsored by NCES. The first two surveys—the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS:72) and the High School and Beyond (HS&B) Longitudinal Study— examined the educational, vocational, and personal development of young people, beginning in high school. (See chapters on NLS and HS&B for descriptions of these studies.) The fourth high school longitudinal study, the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), was designed to provide trend data about critical transitions experienced by students as they proceed through high school and into postsecondary education or their careers. (See NELS chapter for a description of this study.) NELS:88 provides new data about critical transitions experienced by students as they proceed from 8th grade through high school and into postsecondary education or the workforce. It expands the knowledge base of the two previous studies by surveying adolescents at an earlier age and following them into the 21st century.
The NELS:88 base-year survey included a national probability sample of 1,052 public and private 8th-grade schools, with almost 25,000 participating students across the United States. Three follow-up surveys were conducted at 2-year intervals from 1990 to 1994. In 1994 (the third follow-up), most sample members were 2 years out of high school. A fourth follow-up was conducted in 2000. In addition to surveying and testing students, NELS:88 gathered information from the parents of students, teachers, and school administrators. Furthermore, two rounds of transcript data were collected on the 8th-grade cohort. High school transcripts were collected for all participants in the school-age sample, including dropouts and early graduates. Postsecondary transcripts were collected for students who reported attending a school beyond high school.
To provide trend data about critical transitions experienced by young people as they leave elementary school and progress through high school into postsecondary institutions or the workforce, and provide data for trend comparisons with results from NLS:72 and HS&B as well as later longitudinal studies, such as ELS: 2002.
NELS:88 collected survey data from students, dropouts, parents, teachers, and school administrators. Supplementary information was gathered from high school transcripts and course offering data provided by the schools, a Base-Year Ineligible (BYI) Study, a Followback Study of Excluded Students (FSES), a High School Effectiveness Study (HSES), and a Postsecondary Education Transcript Study. The various components are described below.
Base-Year Survey. The base-year survey was conducted during the spring school term in 1988 and included the following:
Student Questionnaire (8th-Grade Questionnaire). Students were asked to fill out a questionnaire that included items on their home background, language use, family, opinions about themselves, plans for the future, job and chores, school life, schoolwork, and activities. Students also completed a series of curriculum-based cognitive tests in four achievement areas-reading, mathematics, science, and social studies (history/government).
Parent Questionnaire. One parent of each student completed a questionnaire requesting information about both parents’ background and socioeconomic characteristics, aspirations for their children, family willingness to commit resources to their children's education, the home educational support system, and other family characteristics relevant to achievement.
Teacher Questionnaire. A Teacher Questionnaire was administered to selected 8th-grade teachers responsible for instructing sampled students in two of the four test subjects—mathematics, science, English, and social studies. The questionnaire collected information in three areas: teachers’ perceptions of the sampled students’ classroom performances and personal characteristics; curriculum content of the areas taught; and teachers’ background and activities. Two teachers were asked to respond for each student.
School Administrator Questionnaire.Completed by an official in the participating school, this questionnaire collected information about school, student, and teacher characteristics; school policies and practices; the school’s grading and testing structure; school programs and facilities; parent involvement in the school; and school climate.
First Follow-up Survey. The first follow-up survey was conducted in spring 1990. It collected information from students, teachers, and school administrators, but not parents. The student sample was freshened to be nationally representative of students enrolled in the 10th grade in spring 1990. In addition, three new components were initiated: the Dropout Questionnaire, the Base-Year Ineligible (BYI) Study, and the High School Effectiveness Study (HSES).
Students were again requested to complete a questionnaire and take cognitive tests. The Student Questionnaire collected background information and asked students about such topics as their school and home environments, participation in classes and extracurricular activities, current jobs, goals and aspirations, and opinions about themselves. Dropouts were asked similar questions in a separate Not Currently in School Questionnaire (or Dropout Questionnaire), which also requested specific information about reason(s) for leaving school and experiences in and out of school. Dropouts were also given cognitive tests when feasible.
School administrators provided information about their high schools in the School Administrator Questionnaire, and two teachers for each student completed the Teacher Questionnaire. There were different Teacher Questionnaires for English, mathematics, science, and history. The School Administrator and Teacher Questionnaires provided information about school administration, school programs and services, curriculum and instruction, and teachers’ perceptions about their students’ learning.
Second Follow-up Survey. The second follow-up survey, conducted in 1992, repeated all the components of the first follow-up survey and included the Parent Questionnaire. The student sample was again freshened to be nationally representative of students enrolled in the 12th grade in spring 1992. A new High School Transcript Study provided archival data on the academic experience of high school students. Students in high schools designated in the first follow-up for HSES were surveyed and tested again in both the main second follow-up survey and a separate HSES. As in the previous waves, students were asked to complete a questionnaire and cognitive tests. The cognitive tests were designed to measure 12th-grade achievement and cognitive growth between 1988 and 1992 in mathematics, science, reading, and social studies (history/citizenship/geography). The questionnaire asked students about such topics as academic achievement; perceptions about their curricula and schools; family structures and environments; social relations; and aspirations, attitudes, and values relating to high school, occupations, and postsecondary education. The Student Questionnaire also contained an Early Graduate Supplement, which asked early graduates to document the reasons for and circumstances of their early graduation. Students who were first-time participants in NELS:88 completed a New Student Supplement, containing basic demographic items requested in the base year but not repeated in the second follow-up. First follow-up dropouts were resurveyed and retested. School administrators completed the School Administrator Questionnaire, and one mathematics or science teacher for each student completed the Teacher Questionnaire.
Third Follow-up Survey. The third follow-up survey, conducted in 1994, contained only the Student Questionnaire, which collected information mainly on issues related to employment and postsecondary education. Specific content areas included academic achievement; perceptions and feelings about school and/or job; work experience and work-related training; application and enrollment in postsecondary education institutions; sexual behavior, marriage, and family; and values, leisure-time activities, volunteer activities, and voting behavior.
Fourth Follow-up Survey. The fourth follow-up survey, conducted in 2000, contained only the Student Questionnaire, which collected information mainly on issues of employment and postsecondary education. Specific content areas included academic achievement; perceptions and feelings about school and/or job; work experience and work-related training; application and enrollment in postsecondary education institutions; sexual behavior, marriage, and family; and values, leisure-time activities, volunteer activities, and voting behavior.
Supplemental Studies. The following supplemental studies were conducted during the course of the NELS:88 project:
Base-Year Ineligible (BYI) Study. The BYI Study was added to the first follow-up survey to ascertain the status of students who were excluded from the base-year survey due to a language barrier or physical or mental disability that precluded them from completing a questionnaire and cognitive tests. Any students found to be eligible at this time were included in the follow-up surveys.
Followback Study of Excluded Students (FSES). This study—a part of the second follow-up survey—was a continuation of the first follow-up BYI Study.
High School Transcript Study.This study collected high school transcripts during the second follow-up survey. Complete transcript records were collected for (1) students attending sampled schools in spring 1992; (2) dropouts (including those in alternative programs) and early graduates; and (3) sample members who were ineligible for any wave of the survey due to mental or physical disability or language barriers. The transcript data collected from schools included student-level data (e.g., number of days absent per school year, standardized test scores) and complete course-taking histories (e.g., information on credits earned; year and term a specific course was taken; and final grades). (For more information, see chapter on HST studies.)
High School Effectiveness Study (HSES). To facilitate longitudinal analysis at the school level, a School Effects Augmentation was implemented in the first follow-up survey to provide a valid probability sample of 10th-grade schools. From the pool of NELS:88 first follow-up schools, a probability subsample of 251 urban and suburban schools in the 30 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas was selected for the HSES; 248 of these schools were HSES participants in the first follow-up. The NELS:88 national or “core” student sample in these schools was augmented to obtain a within-school representative student sample large enough to support school effects research (i.e., the effects of school policies and practices on students). These schools and students were followed up in 1992-when the majority of the students were in 12th grade-as part of both the main NELS:88 second follow-up survey and the HSES. The HSES also provided a convenient framework for a constructed-response testing experiment in 1992. The test contained four questions that required students to derive answers from their own knowledge and experience (e.g., write an explanation, draw a diagram, solve a problem). Mathematics tests were assigned to half of the schools that were willing to commit the extra time required for such testing; the other half were assigned science tests. The second follow-up HSES was also enhanced by the collection of curriculum offerings in the Course Offerings Component. (See below.)
Course Offerings Component. This component was added to the second follow-up to provide curriculum data that can serve as a baseline for studying student outcomes. The course offerings data for this component were collected from the HSES schools. These data illuminate trends when examined in conjunction with data from the transcript studies conducted as part of the 1982 HS&B and the 1987, 1990, 1994, and 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Postsecondary Education Transcript Study. The Postsecondary Education Transcript Study was conducted as part of the fourth follow-up survey in 2000. It targeted transcripts from all U.S. postsecondary institutions attended by NELS sample members in the fourth follow-up, excluding postsecondary information collected from foreign institutions, non-degree-granting programs, and non-credit-granting institutions. The Postsecondary Education Transcript Study supplements the postsecondary education information collected in the 1994 and 2000 follow-ups by including detailed information on types of degree programs, periods of enrollment, majors or fields of study for instructional programs, specific courses taken, grades and credits attained, and credentials earned.
Biennial from 1988 to 1994, a fourth follow-up was conducted in 2000. The Base-Year Ineligible Study was conducted in 1990 as part of the first follow-up; a continuation study, the Followback Study of Excluded Students, was conducted in 1992 as part of the second follow-up. The High School Effectiveness Study was conducted in the first and second follow-ups. The High School Transcript Study was implemented in the second follow-up in 1992. The Postsecondary Education Transcript Study was conducted as part of the fourth follow-up in 2000.
Restricted-use data are available for NELS:88 through the fourth wave and postsecondary education transcript study at https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/licenses.asp.