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ERIC Number: ED566856
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Aug
Pages: 105
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 0-16-038011-1
Characteristics of At-Risk Students in NELS:88. National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. Statistical Analysis Report. Contractor Report. NCES 92-042
Kaufman, Phillip; Bradbury, Denise
National Center for Education Statistics
The National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) is a large-scale, national longitudinal study designed and sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), with support from other government agencies. Beginning in the spring of 1988 with a cohort of eighth graders (25,000) attending public and private schools across the nation, these same individuals were re-surveyed in 1990. During the base-year, data were also collected from students' parents, teachers, and school principals. Taken together, the base-year and follow-up data of NELS:88 provide a wealth of information about eighth graders (1988 school year) as they move both in and out of the U.S. school system and into the many and varied activities of early adolescence. This study examines the characteristics of eighth-grade students who were at risk of school failure (i.e., low achievement test scores and dropping out of school). Seven sets of variables were examined: (1) basic demographic characteristics; (2) family and personal background characteristics; (3) the amount of parental involvement in the student's education; (4) the student's academic history; (5) student behavioral factors; (6) teacher perceptions of the student; and (7) the characteristics of the student's school. Three measures of school failure were used: (1) scores on achievement tests in mathematics; (2) scores on achievement tests in reading; and (3) dropout status as of spring 1990. About 19 percent of the eighth-grade class of 1988 were performing below the basic proficiency level in mathematics, while about 14 percent were performing below the basic proficiency level in reading. In addition, about 6 percent of the eighth-grade cohort of 1988 were dropouts in the spring of 1990. In this study, many factors were found to predict at-risk status that were independent of the student's sex, race-ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Controlling for basic demographic characteristics, the following groups of students were found to be more likely to have poor basic skills in the eighth grade and to have dropped out between the 8th and the 10th grades: (1) Students from single-parent families, students who were overage for their peer group, or students who had frequently changed schools; (2) Eighth-grade students whose parents were not actively involved in the student's school, students whose parents never talked to them about school-related matters, or students whose parents held low expectations for their child's future educational attainment; (3) Students who repeated an earlier grade, students who had histories of poor grades in mathematics and English, or students who did little homework; (4) Eighth-graders who often came to school unprepared for classwork, students who frequently cut class, or students who were otherwise frequently tardy or absent from school; (5) Eighth-graders who teachers thought were passive, frequently disruptive, inattentive, or students who teachers thought were underachievers; and (6) Students from urban schools or from schools with large minority populations. These findings should prove to be useful to researchers, educators, and policymakers who are interested in better understanding the many factors that can lead to school failure. The following are appended: (1) Data and Methodology; and (2) Sample Sizes, Percentage Tables, and Standard Error Tables.
National Center for Education Statistics. Available from: ED Pubs. P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Tel: 877-433-7827; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Numerical/Quantitative Data
Education Level: Grade 8; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education; Secondary Education
Audience: Researchers; Policymakers; Practitioners
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Center for Education Statistics (ED)
IES Cited: ED565682