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National Education Longitudinal Study: Base Year through Third Follow-up, 1988-1994 (ICPSR 6961)

Principal Investigator(s): United States Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics


This data collection presents base year through third follow-up data for the National Education Longitudinal Study (see NATIONAL EDUCATION LONGITUDINAL STUDY, 1988 [ICPSR 9389], FIRST FOLLOW-UP, 1990 [ICPSR 9859], and SECOND FOLLOW-UP, 1992 [ICPSR 6448]). 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:88/94 collected information on postsecondary education participation, employment, earnings, family formation, and other activities and experiences relevant to individuals about to enter their adult lives. The collection contains information that represents several nationally representative samples, including eighth graders in 1988, tenth graders in 1990, and twelfth graders in 1992 enrolled in public or private schools. By the time of the third follow-up study in 1994, most NELS:88 sample members had completed four years of high school, while some had dropped out of high school or had attended alternative programs to obtain their diplomas. Part 1, Student-Level Data, includes universe variables, base-year, first follow-up, and second follow-up student components, school variables at the student level, second follow-up early graduate supplement and student-level transcript variables, first follow-up and second follow-up dropout components, base-year and second follow-up parent components, and third follow-up questionnaire and derived variables. Part 2, Postsecondary Education Attendance Data, provides information for third follow-up respondents on attendance at postsecondary institutions, including enrollment dates and major fields of study. Part 3, Postsecondary Institution Data, supplies information about institutions applied to or attended by third follow-up respondents regarding sector, tuition/fee deciles, and enrollment.

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.

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Student-Level Data - Download All Files (180.207 MB) large file
ASCII + SAS Setup   
DS2:  Postsecondary Education Attendance Data - Download All Files (3.81 MB)
ASCII + SAS Setup   
DS3:  Postsecondary Institution Data - Download All Files (1.098 MB)
ASCII + SAS Setup   
DS4:  Codebook for Student Level Data, Volume 1
No downloadable data files available.
DS5:  Codebook for Student Level Data, Volume 2
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. NATIONAL EDUCATION LONGITUDINAL STUDY: BASE YEAR THROUGH THIRD FOLLOW-UP, 1988-1994. ICPSR version. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics [producer], 1996. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1999. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06961.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06961.v1

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    adolescents, academic achievement, aspirations, career goals, cognitive functioning, curriculum, educational testing, educational trends, employment, family background, educational environment, educational opportunities, 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--1994

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.

Data Type(s):    survey data, and event/transaction data

Data Collection Notes:

The codebooks and supplemental documentation are provided 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 through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.


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 both the 1990 and 1992 follow-ups, a freshened sample was included to achieve a representative sample of the respective age group in the nation.

Data Source:

personal and telephone interviews, questionnaires, and test scores

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   1997-09-26

Version History:

  • 2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 7 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 6 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.
  • 1999-01-21 The SAS input statement for the Student Level Data was restructured and an explanatory paragraph was inserted in the introduction.

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