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Description of Data

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Description of Data

To date, the UW-BHS data collection efforts have focused primarily on three distinct data collection efforts: the Senior Survey, the One Year Follow-Up Survey, and the Parental Survey.

Senior Survey

The Senior Survey is an in-school survey of enrolled high school seniors. It took place in the springs of 2000 and 2002 through 2005 in three school districts, with 9 traditional high schools, and 3 private schools in a large metropolitan area on the West Coast. In 2000 and 2002, the sample consisted of one large public school district, which included 5 comprehensive high schools and a host of alternative site schools. However, in 2003, 2 additional public school districts, with 2 comprehensive high schools in each district, and 3 private high schools were added to the sample, making for a total of 3 school districts, with 9 public high schools, 3 private schools, and a host of alternative schools. All 3 school districts, the 3 private schools and the alternative site schools were surveyed from 2003 to 2005.

The survey was administered within the schools, either in separate classrooms or in an auditorium setting. It consisted of a self response "paper-and-pencil" questionnaire which took roughly 45 to 60 minutes to complete. The survey contained questions that measure the students’ educational and occupational aspirations, educational expectations, and college plans. In addition, information on student demographic characteristics, family background, participation in extracurricular activities, social networks, and attitudes towards schooling was collected.

The UW-BHS research team attempted to survey the entire senior class, and they were able to survey roughly 80% of all seniors that were enrolled and attending school on a regular basis. As not all seniors were present on the day of the survey, a series of mailings, which included a copy of the survey, were sent to those that were absent. The mailings increased the overall percentage of respondents by roughly 11%. The level of student cooperation was very high, as less than two percent of the students or their parents (if the student was under 18) that were asked refused to participate. A total of 9,809 seniors completed the survey, but 151 surveys are often excluded from analyses as they were completed by exchange students, developmentally disabled students, 11th graders ("juniors"), or students who completed the survey with random and/or non-sensical answers.  The sample often utilized in analyses consists of 9,658 students.

For a list of survey questions which have changed between survey years, click here.

One Year Follow-Up Survey

A follow-up survey of students who participated in the Senior Survey was conducted in the springs of 2001 and 2003 through 2006. This was a short and focused survey that asked students to report on their high school graduation, their post-high school employment, and their post-high school college enrollment.  The students were contacted via a combination of phone calls, email messages, and an internet-based response system. Most students were contacted directly for the follow-up survey, but the follow-up information for about 6% of students was obtained from “proxies” such as family members or friends.  Of the 9,658 students surveyed in the spring of 2000 and 2002 through 2005, follow-up surveys were obtained from 8,888, yielding a follow-up response rate of 92% of the interviewed high school seniors.

Parental Survey

The Parental Survey was conducted in the springs of 2000, 2002, and 2003. The survey was mailed to the homes of all high school seniors. The Parental Survey inquired about the home environment, parental ambitions for their child, and parental (and spousal, if any) demographic and occupational information. Roughly half of the parents of Senior Survey respondents completed the Parental Survey.


Please direct questions and comments to charles@uw.edu