Appendix 11: Collection of the Transcript Data (High School)

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth - 1997 Cohort

Appendix 11: Collection of the Transcript Data (High School)

NLSY97 Transcript Survey Carnegie Unit Equivalent Credits (CRS_CARNEGIE_CREDIT.xxx)

The NLSY97 High School Transcript variables include credits earned for completed coursework as reported by the school submitting the transcript. Because credit systems vary considerably across schools, researchers may find it useful to use a transformation into Carnegie credit units, which are comparable across schools. One Carnegie credit is defined as the credits earned for a class that meets every day for one period for an entire school year. An NLSY97 Transcript Survey respondent's primary school is the school submitting the transcript record for processing; for the majority of transcript records processed, this is the last high school attended reporting coursework for the student. The effort to standardize course credits is based on the number of school course credits equal to one Carnegie credit as reported at the primary school. A multiplier was identified at the school level and applied to all school-based credits, creating a standardized credit system.

Carnegie Credit Conversion Method

The conversion of school-based course credits into a standardized Carnegie unit was established through three distinct approaches at the primary school level:

  1. Identify Carnegie unit equivalent credits directly reported by the school
  2. Establish a Carnegie credit equivalent measure through credits earned for an entire year of English coursework, directly reported by the school.
  3. If a school did not directly report the relationship between English coursework and credits earned for one school year, observe patterns of English Survey and other English credits earned over an entire school year within the transcript record.

A standardized Carnegie credit measure was created through observation of school credits earned for coursework routinely taken over a full school year. Review of the transcript survey data indicates that English coursework is most often repeated over a year for the student's entire high school career, allowing a close approximation of the number of school-based credits earned over one full school year. If a school could not provide a Carnegie credit equivalent measure for school credits, the school was asked to provide the number of school credits a student earns for completion of English coursework across an entire school year.

Standardized Carnegie Credits Based on School Reports. Initial transcript requests at schools did not include a series of questions regarding Carnegie equivalent credits. While recontacting schools during the 2004 wave, specific effort was made to define school credits earned in terms of Carnegie credits. Data processing clerks also reviewed course catalog materials submitted and identified schools with Carnegie Unit conversions reported or English credits earned by school year. In total, approximately 90% (n = 5,583) of the student transcripts submitted by primary schools either reported Carnegie equivalent credits or provided the number of English credits earned over one school year. The school-based reports were used to create a multiplier directly applied to course credits noted below.

School Reported Carnegie Credit Equivalencies. When a school provided the number of school course credits equal to one Carnegie credit unit, a credit multiplier was built based on the ratio: X school-based credits = 1 Carnegie credit unit. This multiplier was associated with the primary school. For student records associated with the primary school, the multiplier was applied to each course credit and captured in the CRS_CARNEGIE_CREDIT.xxx variable. The recode flag was set to 1 in each instance (see Table 5).

Standardized Carnegie Credits Based on School Reported English Credits. If a school provided the number of school-based credits earned for one full school year's English coursework, a credit multiplier was built based on the ratio: X English Credits Earned for One School Year = 1 Carnegie credit unit. This comparison was built on the underlying assumption that the number of school-based credits earned for English coursework completed over one school year was equivalent to one Carnegie credit unit. The multiplier was associated with the primary school. For student records associated with the primary school, the multiplier was applied to each course credit and captured in the CRS_CARNEGIE_CREDIT.xxx variable. The recode flag was set to 2 in each instance (see Table 5).

Standardized Carnegie Credits Based on Transcript Observations. For the remaining 10% of student records, a standard Carnegie credit equivalent was constructed by observing credit patterns across schools within transcript records. Again, English coursework was targeted as such coursework was more likely to be repeated across school years and have similar curriculum. Course credit patterns were first observed in English Survey coursework (1_31E*). If a credit pattern could not be detected, the program was expanded to observe a pattern across all English coursework (1_3*).

Standardized Carnegie Credits Based on English Survey Credits within Transcripts. Programs were built to observe English Survey course credit patterns across school years (where course codes = 1_31E*). Course credits were summed across school years to create a multiplier based on the ratio (X English Survey credits for 1 school year = 1 Carnegie credit unit). The multiplier was associated with the primary school. For student records associated with the primary school, the multiplier was applied to each course credit and captured in the CRS_CARNEGIE_CREDIT.xxx variable. The recode flag was set to 3 in each instance (see Table 5).

Standardized Carnegie Credits Based on Other English Credits within Transcripts. Programs were built to observe English course credit patterns across school years (where course codes = 1_3*). Course credits were summed across school years to create a multiplier based on the ratio (X English credits for one school year = 1 Carnegie credit unit). The multiplier was associated with the primary school. For student records associated with the primary school, the multiplier was applied to each course credit and captured in the CRS_CARNEGIE_CREDIT.xxx variable. The recode flag was set to 4 in each instance (see Table 5).

Unclassifiable Credits. In few instances, a credit system across schools could not be observed from reviewing English coursework credits earned. Reasons for not classifying school-based credits into a Carnegie credit equivalency include: credits were not reported (i.e., "missing") at the course level, zero credits were earned for all courses reported, not enough credits were reported to establish a Carnegie multiplier, and credits reported varied enough to prevent a standardized multiplier across student records. In such instances, CRS_CARNEGIE_CREDIT.xxx was set to a missing value (-3) and the recode flag was set to 5 (see Table 5).

Table 5: Values for CRS_CARNEGIE_RECODE.xxx

Carnegie Unit Recode Flag Recoding Status
1 Directly recoded using school-reported Carnegie Units.
2 Recoded using multiplier developed from school-reported English credits earned in one school year.
3 Recoded using standardized multiplier observed in English Survey credits.
4 Recoded using standardized multiplier observed in English coursework, other.
5 Unclassifiable credits

Additional Notes regarding the Carnegie Credit Assignment

Quality control checks were developed to evaluate the procedures using school-based credits earned for one year of English coursework in calculating a standard Carnegie multiplier. The three standardized calculations using English course credits were tested on the schools with direct Carnegie credit conversions reported. In addition, staff reviewed the total number of Carnegie credits earned by student to determine if the Carnegie credits reported seem reasonable. A range of 16 - 24 Carnegie credits earned for academic coursework was benchmarked. While a large majority fall within this range of credits, there are still outliers. Some reasons for these outliers are noted below.

Primary Schools and Credits Earned at Other/"Transfer" Schools. One key assumption is that the primary school calculated credits earned for coursework taken at other ("transfer") schools based on the primary school's credit system required for graduation. This assumption proved true in most cases, as the primary school would adjust the transferable credits from other schools into meaningful credits necessary to graduate. In some instances, however, it is clear that the conversion of credits earned at prior schools into equivalent credits at the primary school did not occur. When possible, a conversion based on English coursework observed across the transfer schools was used to standardize the credits across both schools. In the remaining instances, it was determined that a standardized set of Carnegie credits could not be established based on the information presented, and Carnegie credits for these transcripts were coded as unclassifiable. The CRS_CARNEGIE_RECODE.xxx variables indicate what steps were taken for each individual course.

Course Credit Reporting and Data Entry Errors. If a clear entry or reporting error was identified for a particular course credit (often a missing decimal point) and a correction could be identified from reviewing other course credits earned or total credits reported by term, the Carnegie credit reported in the data file was constructed to reflect the adjusted credit earned, rather than using the apparently erroneous course credit value. Approximately 100 courses were affected by these types of corrections. The original credit information remains in the CRS_CREDIT.xx variable series.

Grades 7 and 8. Student transcripts with high numbers of Carnegie credits often include grade levels outside of the typical grades 9-12 high school career. A number of district level transcripts report middle school and high school coursework. Coursework taken in grades 7 and 8 was assigned a Carnegie credit equivalent. Researchers can use the grade level variables in order to exclude these courses (and credits) from specific analyses as appropriate.

Vocational and Enrichment Coursework Credits. It is apparent from review of the transcript records that many schools apply a different credit weighting system to certain types of vocational coursework (where R-SST = 2_*) and enrichment coursework (where R-SST = 3_*) than to academic level coursework (where SST = 1_*). While Carnegie credits have been calculated for these vocational and enrichment courses, users should note the credits earned for vocational and enrichment courses inflate the total number of Carnegie credits earned for some transcripts.

School Program Variables

These variables categorize as academic or vocational a student's full coursetaking behavior in high school. The variables follow recommendations set forth in U.S. Department of Education. National Center for Education Statistics. "Procedures Guide for Transcript Studies" Working Paper 1999-05, by Martha Naomi Alt and Denise Bradby. Project Officer, Denise Nelson. Washington, D.C.:1999. (For an explanation of the course codes [e.g., 1_31*], see Coding Information above.)

Academic specialist (question name: TRANS_ACAD_SPEC)

Student earned at least 4 credits in English (1_31* 1_32 1_33 1_34);
at least 3 credits in mathematics at the Algebra 1 level or higher (1_14 1_15 1_16 1_17*);
at least 2 credits in biology, chemistry, or physics (1_22* 1_23* 1_24*);
at least 2 credits in social studies (1_41* 1_42* 1_43* 1_44* 1_45* 1_46* 1_47*) with at least 1 credit in US or world history (1_41* 1_42*);
at least 2 credits in a single foreign language (1_61* 1_62* 1_63* 1_64* 1_65* 1_66*).

Academic concentrator (question name: TRANS_ACAD_CONC)

Student earned at least 4 credits in English (1_31* 1_32 1_33 1_34);
at least 3 credits in mathematics (1_11* 1_12* 1_13 1_14 1_15 1_16 1_17* 1_18 1_19*);
at least 3 credits in science (1_21* 1_22 1_23 1_24* 1_25* 1_26*);
at least 3 credits in social studies 1_41* 1_42* 1_43* 1_44* 1_45* 1_46* 1_47*).

Vocational specialist (question name: TRANS_VOC_SPEC)

Student earned at least 4 credits in a single Specific Labor Market Preparation (SMLP) vocational area (2_C*), with at least 2 of these credits in that SLMP's 2nd-level or higher courses or co-op/work experience coursework (2_C*B 2_C*C 2_C*D 2_C11 2_C071BA).

Vocational concentrator (question name: TRANS_VOC_CONC)

Student earned at least 3 credits total in a single Specific Labor Market Preparation (SLMP) vocational area (2_C*).

School program (question name: TRANS_SCH_PGM)

The "School Program" variable combines the information from the four variables above.  This variable is coded as follows:

  1. Academic specialist (and not vocational concentrator)
  2. Vocational concentrator (and not academic specialist)
  3. Both academic specialist and vocational concentrator
  4. Neither academic specialist nor vocational concentrator

Pipeline Variables

Subject-area pipeline variables were modelled closely on the standards established in NCES Working Paper No. 2003-01 (http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2003/200301.pdf) for categorization of mathematics, foreigh language, and science course-taking. Some changes in procedure were necessary because of our use of the R-SST course-coding scheme; these are noted in the appropriate sections below. (For an explanation of the course codes [e.g., 1_31*], see Coding Information above.)

Mathematics Pipeline (question name: TRANS_MATHPIPE)

  100 No math. No recorded high-school math courses.
  200 Non-academic. Highest course was 1_11*, 1_12*, or 1_19*.
  300 Low academic. Students whose highest-level math course was 1_13.
  400 Middle academic 1. Highest course was 1_14, 1_15, or 1_18 (Unified math, two or fewer years).
  500 Middle academic 2. Students whose highest math achievement was one or fewer Carnegie credits in math courses coded 1_16 (Algebra 2 through Pre-Calculus; Trig and Advanced Math) OR three years of 1_18 (Unified Math).
  600 Advanced academic 1. Students whose highest math achievement was more than one credit in math courses coded 1_16 (Algebra 2 through Pre-Calculus; Trig and Advanced Math).
  700 Advanced academic 2. Highest course was 1_17C.
  800 Advanced academic 3. Highest course was 1_17A or 1_17B.

The division between students with one or fewer credits in course-code 1_16 and those with more than one credit was made in order to adapt the R-SST course-coding scheme to the 8-category math pipeline standard established in NCES 2003-01.

Sciences

Life Sciences Pipeline (question name: TRANS_BIOPIPE)

  0 None. No credits in any high-school life sciences (1_22*).
  100 Basic Biology 1. Highest course was 1_22A.
  200 General Biology 1. Highest course was 1_22B.
  300 Secondary Life Sciences. Highest course was 1_22D.
  400 Honors & General Biology 2. Highest course was 1_22C.
  500 Advanced. Highest course was 1_22E.

Chemistry Pipeline (question name: TRANS_CHEMPIPE)

  0 None. No credits in high-school chemistry (1_23*).
  100 Intro or Consumer Chemistry. Highest course was 1_23A.
  200 Chemistry 1. Highest course was 1_23B.
  300 Chemistry 2. Highest course was 1_23C, D, or E.

Physics Pipeline (question name: TRANS_PHYSICS_PIPE)

  0 None. No credits in high-school physics (1_24*).
  100 General Physics. Highest course was 1_24A.
  200 Physics 1. Highest course was 1_24B.
  300 Physics 2. Highest course was 1_24C or E.

(For 1_24D, see Physical Sciences Pipeline.)

Physical Sciences Pipeline (question name: PHYS_SCI_PIPE)

  0 None. No credits in high-school physical sciences (not physics).
  100 Physical Sciences, Applied Physical Sciences, Earth Science, College Prep Earth Science, or Unified Science. Highest course was 1_25A-B, 1_26A-B, or 1_21A-C.
  200 Astronomy, Environmental Sci, Geology, or Oceanography. Highest course was 1_24D, 1_25C-D, or 1_26C-D.

Overall Physical Sciences Pipeline (question name: TRANS_OPS_PIPE)

  0 None. No credits in high-school physics or physical sciences.
  100 Primary Physical Science. Physical Sciences Pipeline = 1.
  200 Secondary Physical Science. Physical Sciences Pipeline=2 or Chemistry Pipeline=1 or Physics Pipeline=1.
  300 Chemistry 1 or Physics 1. Chemistry Pipeline=2 or Physics Pipeline=2.
  400 Chemistry 1 and Physics 1. Chemistry Pipeline=2 and Physics Pipeline=2.
  500 Chemistry 2 or Physics 2. Chemistry Pipeline=3 or Physics Pipeline=3.

Life Sciences and Physical Sciences Pipeline (question name: TRANS_SCI_PIPE)

  0 None. No credits in high-school science.
  100 Primary Physical Science. Overall Physical Sciences Pipeline=1.
  200 Secondary Physical Science or Basic Biology. Overall Physical Sciences Pipeline=2 or Life Sciences Pipeline=1.
  300 General Biology 1 or Secondary Biology or Honors & General Biology 2 or Advanced Biology. Life Sciences Pipeline >= 2.
  400 Chemistry 1 or Physics 1. Overall Physical Sciences Pipeline=3.
  500 Chemistry 1 & Physics 1. Overall Physical Sciences Pipeline=4.
  600 Chemistry 2 or Physics 2. Overall Physical Sciences Pipeline=5.

Foreign Languages

The foreign language variables are as follows:

  TRANS_SPANPIPE Progress in Spanish
  TRANS_FRCHPIPE Progress in French
  TRANS_GERMPIPE Progress in German
  TRANS_LATPIPE Progress in Latin
  TRANS_ITALPIPE Progress in Italian
  TRANS_OTHLANGPIPE Progress in other foreign language
  TRANS_LANGPIPE_1 Progress in First Language Attempted
  TRANS_LANGPIPE_2 Progress in Second Language Attempted
  TRANS_LANGPIPE_3 Progress in Third Language Attempted

All foreign language pipline variables are coded using the following coding scheme:

  0 Attempted, no progress.
  50 Completed .5 units, Year 1.
  100 Completed 1 unit, Year 1.
  150 Completed .5 units, Year 2.
  200 Completed 1 unit, Year 2.
  250 Completed .5 units, Year 3.
  300 Completed 1 unit, Year 3.
  350 Completed .5 units, Year 4.
  400 Completed 1 unit, Year 4.
  450 Completed .5 units, AP/IB.
  500 Completed 1 unit, AP/IB.
  9900 Never attempted language.

The 0 category includes students with pre-high-school foreign-language coursework but none in high school.

Number of Languages Attempted (question name: TRANS_FRN_LANG_ATMPT)

All recorded high-school coursework in any foreign language (1_61* through 1_66*) was included in this measure, with any number of credits or none, and counting all courses coded 1_66* (Foreign Language, Other) collectively as 1 language attempted . The range in our data is from 0 to 4 languages.