National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972

The National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS-72) is designed and conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

This monumental endeavor has been called the "grandmother of longitudinal studies" and "probably the richest archive ever assembled on a single generation of Americans." The study describes the transition of young adults from high school through postsecondary education to the workplace, with data on:

  • Student ability
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Home background
  • Community environment
  • Ethnicity
  • Current activity
  • Educational attainment
  • School experience
  • School performance
  • Work status
  • Work performance
  • Work satisfaction
  • Goal orientation
  • Mental status
  • Financial status, and
  • Military experience.

Data spans the years 1972 to 1986, following students from senior year of high school into their early 30s. The records include the "Base Year" survey, follow-up surveys in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, and 1986, high school records, and postsecondary transcripts collected in 1984.

The history of the Class of 1972 is widely considered to be the baseline against which the progress and achievements of subsequent cohorts will be measured.

Read the full NCES study .

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