The comparisons in this guide are based on data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88). This study followed a nationally representative sample of eighth graders in 1988 through high school, college, and the workforce until the year 2000. That allowed us to find out how many of those eighth graders took longer than four years to graduate and how they performed in college, work, and civic life.
Keep in mind, however, that these outcomes only go up to the year 2000—eight years after students’ expected high school graduation and when participants were approximately 26 years old. If we examined outcomes for each of these groups of students at a later date, more differences could show up, especially for those who went on to to college. Research has shown that the economic benefits of going to college increase over time (Day and Newburger 2002).
Jim Hull, Center for Public Education policy analyst
Posted: February 11, 2009
©2009 Center for Public Education