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National Education Longitudinal Study: Base Year Through Fourth Follow-Up, 1988-2000 (ICPSR 3955)

Principal Investigator(s):


This data collection presents base year through fourth follow-up data for the National Education Longitudinal Study (see NATIONAL EDUCATION LONGITUDINAL STUDY, 1988 [ICPSR 9389], FIRST FOLLOW-UP, 1990 [ICPSR 9859], SECOND FOLLOW-UP, 1992 [ICPSR 6448]), and THIRD FOLLOW-UP, 1994 [ICPSR 6961]. In addition, these data sustain continuing trend comparisons with NATIONAL LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF THE CLASS OF 1972 (ICPSR 8085) and HIGH SCHOOL AND BEYOND, 1980 (ICPSR 7896, 8297, 8443, 8896). NELS:88/2000 collected information on this cohort's accomplishments 12 years after the eighth-grade baseline survey. The 2000 data were collected at a key stage of life transitions for the eighth-grade class of 1988 since most had been out of high school for nearly eight years and many had already completed postsecondary education, started or even changed careers, and started families. Part 1, Student-Level Data, includes universe variables, base-year, first and second follow-up student components, school variables at the student level, second and third follow-up early graduate supplement and student-level transcript variables, first, second, and third follow-up dropout components, base-year and second follow-up parent components, and third and fourth follow-up questionnaires and derived variables. Part 2, Postsecondary Education Attendance Data, provides information for third and fourth follow-up respondents on attendance at postsecondary institutions. Part 3, Postsecondary Institution Data, supplies information about institutions applied to or attended by fourth follow-up respondents regarding sector, tuition/fee deciles, and enrollment. Part 4, Postsecondary 1994 Education Attendance Data, provides information for third follow-up respondents on attendance at postsecondary institutions, including enrollment dates and major fields of study.

Series: National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS) Series

Access Notes

  • One or more data files in this study are set up in a non-standard format, such as card image format. Users may need help converting these files before they can be used for analysis.

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DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Student-Level Data - Download All Files (197.7 MB) large file
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DS2:  Postsecondary Education Attendance Data - Download All Files (7.5 MB)
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DS3:  Postsecondary Institution Data - Download All Files (7.3 MB)
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DS4:  Postsecondary 1994 Education Attendance Data - Download All Files (10 MB)
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Study Description


United States Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. National Education Longitudinal Study: Base Year Through Fourth Follow-Up, 1988-2000. ICPSR03955-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2004. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03955.v1

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   academic achievement, adolescents, aspirations, career goals, cognitive functioning, curriculum, educational environment, educational opportunities, educational testing, educational trends, employment, family background, high school students, home environment, job history, junior high school students, learning, parental influence, school attendance, school dropouts, secondary education, self concept, socioeconomic status, student participation, teacher student relationship, teachers, test scores, wages and salaries, young adults

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1988--2000

Universe:   All eligible United States eighth graders in spring 1988, tenth-graders in the 1989-1990 school year, twelfth-grade students during 1991-1992, and students who in 1994 were two years out of high school and in 2000 were eight years out of high school.

Data Types:   survey data, and event/transaction data

Data Collection Notes:

The codebooks and supplemental documentation are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.


Sample:   The base-year survey in 1988 was a clustered, stratified national probability sample of 1,052 public and private eighth-grade schools with almost 25,000 students across the United States participating. For the first follow-up in 1990, 21,000 students were sampled and an additional parent survey was added. The second follow-up in 1992 also included a school records component. In each survey, multiple respondent populations were surveyed: students (including dropouts), their teachers, their parents, and their school administrators. In the 1990 and 1992 follow-up studies, a freshened sample was included to achieve a representative sample of the respective age group in the nation. The fourth follow-up study in 2000 began with a sample of 15,237 individuals, subsampled from the sampling frame of 15,964 individuals used for the third follow-up study in 1994, thus removing 647 third follow-up nonrespondents from the frame. At the end of the data collection for the study, a second subsample of study nonrespondents was drawn to limit bias resulting from interview nonrespondents. The subsample included 386 fourth follow-up nonrespondents selected from American Indian and Alaskan Native, Black non-Hispanic, Hispanic, and dropout strata.

Data Source:

(1) personal and telephone interviews, (2) questionnaires, (3) test scores, (4) out-of-school rounds: computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) technology, and (5) follow-up: computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI) technology


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-01-18 File MN3955.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-01-18 File CB3955.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

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