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Basic Facts


National Center for Education Statistics, Institute for Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

Goals of MGLS:2017

A key goal of the study was to better understand the supports students need for academic success, high school readiness, and positive life development such as high school graduation, college and career readiness, healthy lifestyles of all students. The study tracked the progress students made in reading and mathematics and their developmental trajectories as they transitioned from elementary to high school and identified factors in their school, classroom, home, and out-of-home experiences that may help to explain differences in achievement and development, and that may contribute to academic success and other outcomes both during the middle grade years and beyond.


The student sample was intended to be representative of students in the U.S. who are enrolled in grade 6 in the fall of the 2017-18 school year. A two-stage probability sampling design was used. Public, private, and charter schools were sampled from the Common Core of Data and Private School Universe Survey. The study included students with disabilities and collected special education information from their teachers. The sample did not yield enough cases to meet NCES precision requirements for certain subgroups. Data are available under an R&D license, which is designated for data products that are in development or that have not met standards for producing reliable national estimates. To be approved, applications must recognize the limitations of the data and propose an analysis appropriate for R&D data.

Data Collection Schedule

Base Year data (grade 6) was collected in winter/spring of 2018 with a follow-up in winter/spring 2020 when most of the students in the sample were in grade 8. These base year and follow-up rounds are referred to as MS1 (Main Study 1) and MS2 (Main Study 2) in the documentation.

Types of Data

At each round of data collection, students’ reading and mathematics achievement, socioemotional development, and executive function is assessed. Students also completed a survey that asks about their engagement in school, out-of-school experiences, peer group, and identity development. Parents were interviewed about their background, family resources, and parental involvement. Students’ teachers completed a two-part survey that asked about their background and classroom instruction and then asked teachers to report on each student’s academic behaviors, mathematics performance, and conduct. School administrators reported on middle grade-specific programs and practices, school supports and services, as well school climate. Student information was abstracted from school records and field staff completed an environmental checklist on the school physical plant and resources. The teachers of special needs students for whom testing accommodations were not possible received special questionnaires to report on student progress.

Data Collection Methods/Modes

Modes included self-administered tablet- and web-based assessments and surveys, and telephone interviews. MGLS:2017-18 was originally designed to conduct data collection exclusively through in-school, group administration, using 2 or 3 session facilitators per school. In a designated school space, using project supplied Chromebooks, session facilitators administered the assessments and survey items to students. Students were also measured for height and weight. To mitigate school nonresponse in the base year (2018, 6th grade), a very small number of students were recruited to take the assessments remotely near the end of data collection. In the follow up year (2020, 8th grade), a much larger number of students did so due to the COVID pandemic. Because the assessment was already programmed in a web format for Chromebook it was possible to transition to a remote format. Out-of-school data collection required that students have access to a computer and internet access to complete the session. Additional efforts were made to obtain parental permission and cooperation for those students who took the session remotely.


An Overview of the Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2017–18 (MGLS:2017): Technical Report was released in early 2023 as a preview to the eventual data release in the summer of 2023.

The Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2017–18 (MGLS:2017) Data File, Restricted-Use Version (RUF) contains a school-level and a student-level file with data collected in two rounds: the MGLS:2017 Main Study (MS) Base Year (MS1) from January to July 2018 and the Main Study Follow-up (MS2) from January 2020 to July 2020. A data file user’s manual to accompany the data is also available.

The Middle Grades Longitudinal Study of 2017–18 (MGLS:2017) Assessment Item Level File (ILF) contains the item level data from these direct measures that can be used in psychometric research for replicating or enhancing the scoring found in the MGLS:2017 RUF or in creating new scores. It contains two .csv files representing the two rounds of data collection: the MGLS:2017 Main Study (MS) Base Year (MS1) and the Main Study First Follow-up (MS2) files. An ILF ReadMe file offers detailed information about how to use this data. See publications page for specific listings.

For more information contact:

Carolyn Grim, National Center for Education Statistics, Institute for Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.