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TEN YEARS LATER: New NCES Longitudinal Study Tracks Educational Outcomes of High School Sophomores from 2002

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Among study participants who were employed as of 2012 but had not finished high school, 20 percent were working in “food preparation and serving occupations.”

Eight years after their expected high school graduation, 33 percent of individuals from a nationally representative sample of then–high school sophomores had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 13 percent progressed no further than completing high school (see chart below). The study, Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002): A First Look at 2002 High School Sophomores 10 Years Later, released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on January 9, represents the third and final follow-up survey to the ELS:2002 and draws on data collected in 2012, when survey participants were about twenty-six years old.

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When asked about their current activities, 63 percent of survey participants said they were working for pay only, while 19 percent were working for pay and taking postsecondary courses. Five percent said they were taking postsecondary courses only and 13 percent said they were neither working for pay nor taking postsecondary courses. Of those who had lost a job since January 2006, 45 percent had not completed high school and 40 percent only had a high school credential, compared to 19 percent who had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Among study participants who were employed as of 2012 but had not finished high school, 20 percent were working in “food preparation and serving occupations.” Among individuals whose highest level of education was an associate’s degree, the most frequently reported current occupation (18 percent) was in the category of “office and administration support.” The most frequently reported current job (13 percent) by individuals who obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher was “education, training, and library occupations.”

The complete report is available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014363.pdf.

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