1. What led you to do this research?
I have been a huge fan and frequent user of NCES’s longitudinal student surveys for almost 20 years. They are an amazingly rich data resource for innumerable research purposes.
A few years ago Adam Gamoran — who should be on the Mt. Rushmore of education researchers if such a thing ever exists — asked if I would come to a National Academy of Education workshop on the future of NCES’s longitudinal surveys and write a paper reflecting on the panel discussion and the other papers. How could I resist?
2. What should everybody know about what you found?
As I explain in the article, NCES’s longitudinal student surveys are extraordinarily valuable resources. Even if they continue as they have with few changes, that would be good thing.
At the workshop, many prominent researchers offered great ideas about changes that NCES might make to improve the surveys. Most described things like adding exciting new content modules (e.g., on immigrants’ experience and bullying) and employing cutting-edge modes of collecting data (e.g., via video or experience sampling).
However, I argue that NCES should consider more fundamental changes that would greatly enhance their utility without reducing current strengths. In my article, I propose and describe two major design changes. If implemented, NCES’s longitudinal surveys could be used for annual cross-sectional monitoring, would be more useful for evaluating policy and making international comparisons, and would be more useful for schools and districts.
3. What are you going to do next on this topic?
I am going to continue to write papers using NCES’s longitudinal surveys, whether or not they implement my ideas!
You can read the full article here: