History of EdSHARe

The National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS-72) and High School and Beyond (HSB) began as part of the National Center for Education Statistics’ Secondary Longitudinal Studies Program (SLSP).

The goal of that program—and thus of NLS-72 and HSB—was to understand how educational contexts, opportunities, and outcomes shape vocational, labor market, civic participation, economic, and other outcomes through early adulthood.

NLS-72 and HSB were launched by NCES in 1972 and 1980, respectively, with nationally-representative probability samples of American high school students. As shown below, NLS-72 and HSB panelists were—like their sister cohorts in the SLSP program—reinterviewed on multiple occasions through 1986 (NLS-72) and 1992 (HSB); secondary and post-secondary transcripts have also been appended to survey data files.

NCES Cohort Graph showing different stages for cohort studies over the years

NLS-72 and HSB have served for decades as cornerstone studies of how educational institutions, programs, environments, and experiences shape the lives of American young people.

Although NLS-72 and HSB started as education cohort studies under the auspices of NCES, the EdSHARe team has—with the cooperation and approval of NCES—repurposed both studies to be important data resources for understanding the intersecting social, institutional, and biological pathways through which early life factors—especially education—impact later-life economic, labor force, health, and cognitive outcomes.

In 2014-2015—and with support from the Allred P. Sloan Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the National Science Foundation—EdSHARe co-Directors Eric Grodsky, Chandra Muller, and John Robert Warren completed located and re-interviewed the sophomore and senior cohorts of HSB. Fieldwork in that HSB follow-up included a multimode survey that assessed educational, occupational, health, and other outcomes when cohort members were in their early 50s.

In 2021-2022—and with support from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer’s Association—Grodsky, Muller, and Warren were joined by Jennifer Manly in recontacting HSB panelists for a 40-minute survey and an in-home health visit that include anthropometric measurements and the collection of fluid biomarkers.

The 2021-2022 HSB survey was especially focused on cognitive function, memory, and the health and life conditions that shape them. Blood collected in the 2021-2022 HSB home health visits have been assayed for markers of neuropathology, immunological function, inflammatory processes, and more. In recent years HSB records have also been linked to a variety of administrative data sources, including secondary and post-secondary transcripts, the National Death Index, pharmacy benefits manager records, state tumor registries, consumer credit records, voting records, housing transaction records, and others.

In 2022, the EdSHARe team—Grodsky, Manly, Muller, and Warren, newly joined by Adam Brickman—received support from NIA to conduct the first follow-up of the NLS-72 cohort since 1986; panelists will be about 70 when recontacted in 2024 or 2025. Fieldwork will include a three-hour in-home interview; a home health visit; and (for a subset of sample members) an MRI at a local hospital.

The in-home interview will consist of an array of cognitive assessments; a questionnaire assessing education, labor force, economic, health, and other outcomes; and anthropometric measurements. At the home health visit, NLS-72 participants will provide blood samples that will be assayed for markers of neuropathology, immunological function, inflammatory processes, and more. NLS-72 records have been linked to secondary and post-secondary transcripts and the National Death index.