ELS:2002 is very similar to the design of NLS72, HS&B, and NELS:88. Nonpublic schools (specifically, Catholic and other private schools) were sampled at a higher rate, to ensure a sample large enough to support comparisons with public schools. Similarly, Asian students were sampled at a higher rate than Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic students, to ensure a sample large enough to support comparisons with those groups. The base-year survey instruments were comprised of two assessments: reading and mathematics, and a student questionnaire asking about attitudes and experiences. Also included in the base-year sample were one parent of the sample student and English and mathematics teachers of the sample students. The parent questionnaire was designed to gauge parental aspiration for their child, child’s educational history prior to tenth grade, parental interactions with and opinions about the child’s school. The teacher questionnaire collected the teacher’s evaluation of the student and information on teaching practices, background and other activities of the teachers. The head librarian or media center director of each school completed the library media center questionnaire which provided information on staffing, available technical resources, collections and expenditures, and scheduling and transactions of library media center. The facilities checklist form collected information on condition of school building and facilities.
The ELS:2002 base-year sample students were surveyed and tested again two years later in 2004 to measure their achievement gains in mathematics, as well as changes in their status, such as transfer to another high school, early completion of high school, or leaving high school before graduation. The sample was also augmented by a sample of students who were in twelfth grade in 2004. Separate questionnaires were given to homeschooled students, early graduates, and dropouts. The student questionnaire was comprised of eight content modules as in the base survey. Part I requested contact information. Part II covered the student’s school experiences and activities. Part III, the time use module, inquired about time usage on homework, television viewing, video and computer games, computers, nonschool reading, library utilization, and other activities. Part IV concentrated on plans and expectations for the future. Part V addressed education after high school, including postsecondary planning steps and choice criteria. Part VI dealt with plans for work after high school. Part VII inquired about working for pay, including hours worked per week. Part VIII consisted of items on community, family, and friends. In the dropout questionnaire the respondents supplied their specific reasons for leaving school prior to graduation. Most of the modules in the dropout questionnaire matched those with the student questionnaire. Early graduates completed only a subset of the student questionnaire, complemented by items such as whom they consulted when deciding to graduate early, the basis for that decision and the means by which they did so. Sophomore cohort members who changed their base-year school received the transfer student questionnaire which asked them when they transferred and their reasons for doing so. Homeschooled students were asked about their schooling activities and status