August 23, 2007

Study to Look at High School Students' Decisions Regarding Courses, Future Plans

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Daniel J. Pratt
Dan Pratt

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- Researchers at RTI International will conduct a national longitudinal study of high school students as they enter 9th grade to better understand how their plans, background, and circumstances when they begin high school are linked to their decisions about course-taking and to their plans and experiences following high school.

The study, called the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009, is funded by the National Center for Education Statistics and extends previous NCES longitudinal research with high school students conducted since the early 1970s.

Under terms of the five-year contract, RTI researchers will survey a nationally representative sample of about 20,000 high school students, their parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and school administrators.

"This study has many exciting enhancements while building upon the rich base of high school longitudinal research that NCES has undertaken," said Daniel Pratt, a senior analyst at RTI. "The study will emphasize math and science in particular, and its 9th grade starting point is a critical juncture in determining high school trajectory and later outcomes. The study will also examine the plans and thought processes of 9th graders and how they may be linked to their high school course-taking, college and career decisions."

The study will examine when, why, and how students make decisions about courses and postsecondary options, including what factors enter into these decisions from parental input to considerations of financial aid for postsecondary education.

The longitudinal study includes a survey of 9th graders during the fall of 2009 with follow-ups at 11th grade and during the students' postsecondary years. The survey questions will emphasize students' choices and access to math and science courses as well as their decisions about academic majors and careers.


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