Did you know the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has a NCES blog? Launched in April 2015, the blog is designed to provide a forum for news about the latest developments in NCES surveys, exciting new research opportunities, commonly misunderstood education measures, important new findings, and innovative data tools.
This article by Elise Christopher and Lauren Musu-Gillette is cross-posted from the NCES blog.
Researchers, educators, and policy makers are interested in knowing what makes students ready for college and careers, and the Department of Education has identified college and career readiness as a priority. In 2011, the Department announced that it would allow for Elementary/Secondary Education Act (ESEA) flexibility for states that developed plans for reforms in certain key areas of education, including college and career readiness. In order to investigate what factors may be associated with college and career outcomes, several important questions arise. For example:
- How do students’ high school experiences relate to whether or not they have to enroll in remedial courses in college?
- How do these same experiences relate to whether or not they successfully complete college?
- What high school and college experiences are associated with successful career choices?
Questions like these are best answered with longitudinal surveys, which track the paths of students as they transition from school to college and the work force. The longitudinal surveys conducted by NCES contain a wide variety of survey components that enable researchers to address policy-related topics across disciplines. Such longitudinal data can be expensive and time consuming to collect, particularly if they are nationally representative with sufficient sample sizes to analyze barriers faced by disadvantaged young adults. Building a sound statistical foundation for these important analyses is one of the key contributions NCES makes when producing datasets such as the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) for the education and research community.