School Survey

School Survey

Sample & Survey Design

A separate, one-time survey was conducted in 1995-1996 of the schools attended by NLSY79 children (over the age of five) in the 1994 and 1995 school years.  The survey collected information about the characteristics of the school, graduation rate, ethnic and gender composition of student body and staff, school policies and practices, and community involvement. Information was also obtained about the child's academic success, social adjustment, participation in school activities, the child's grade level, attendance record, and involvement in special programs. The third part of the survey collected standardized test scores from student transcripts for each child. 

Data Collection & Instrumentation

The Child School Survey data collection had several components. The Principal Questionnaire, completed by the principal of the school, included information about characteristics of the school, school policies and practices, and school-community interfaces. A second Child Schooling Questionnaire, filled out by school office personnel for each child, included grade, attendance, involvement in special programs and grade level information. Requests for transcripts yielded standardized test scores for about 34 percent of the children.

The Child School Survey Data

The Child data file contains 375 Child School Survey variables for a sample of about 3,000 children. Due to confidentiality restrictions, not all the items that were asked in each Child School Survey questionnaire appear on the public file. The original eligible universe of children consisted of those enrolled between grades one and twelve in the 1994-1995 school year. For a few children, enrollment status referred to their 1993-1994 school year, but for most the reference period was the 1994-1995 school year. Children under the age of 15 as of the end of 1994 were eligible for data collection if they were living with their mother; older children could be living either with their mother or in other types of residence. Children also needed to be at least age 5 at the time of interview. An estimated 4,441 children met these eligibility criteria.

For 334 children, information was obtained from more than one school, since the child attended more than one school during the interview window.  Additionally, some children were eligible for inclusion in only one of the two years, so the data collection window encompassed only that one school year. The data file includes information for these children for up to two schools. Information collected during the 1995-1996 year could only be collected for schools attended during the preceding two years as the waiver formed signed by the parent only permitted access to records available in the schools the children had attended during that period.


The Child School survey variables are assigned to the CHILD SCHOOL SURVEY area of interest. Unlike all the other Child variables, the school survey variables are identified by reference numbers that begin with the letter "S." The question names for variables from the Child Schooling Questionnaire are prefixed with a "C" following by the school number (1 or 2), while those from the Principal Questionnaire begin with a "P". The question items in the file are named according to the sequence in which they appeared in the field questionnaires. Users are encouraged to access copies of the actual instruments (see the Questionnaires page).