Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to many frequently asked questions about NLTS2. Please contact us if you have additional questions or comments.

What is NLTS2?

The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), commissioned to begin in 2001 by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP 2001-2011) and Institute of Education Sciences (IES 2000-2011), is a follow-up of the original National Longitudinal Transition Study. The original NLTS was designed and conducted by SRI International for OSEP from 1985 through 1993. NLTS2 includes 11,270 youth nationwide who were ages 13 through 16 at the start of the study (2000). Information was collected over 10 years from parents, youth, and schools and provided a national picture of the experiences and achievements of young people as they transition into early adulthood.

The study:

  • Describes the characteristics of secondary school youth in special education and their households.
  • Describes the secondary school experiences of youth in special education, including their schools, school programs, related services, and extracurricular activities.
  • Describes the experiences of youth once they leave secondary school, including adult programs and services, social activities, etc.
  • Measures the secondary school and postschool outcomes of youth in the education, employment, social, and residential domains.
  • Identifies factors in youth's secondary school and postschool experiences that contribute to more positive outcomes.

Who funded NLTS2?

NLTS2 was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences' (IES) National Center for Education Research in the U.S. Department of Education as part of the national assessment of the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '97).

Who conducted NLTS2?

NLTS2 was conducted by SRI International, a scientific research institute located in Menlo Park, California, with assistance from RTI International, a research firm located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, for the parent interviews. Westat, a research firm located in Rockville, Maryland assisted with the student assessment.

What activities were involved in NLTS2?

The data collection activities outlined below include a variety of sources: parents/guardians, youth, teachers, principals, and school records.

  • Telephone interviews Parents were contacted for telephone interviews about the experiences of their youth and their family life. Interviews began in spring 2001 and repeated every other year thereafter until 2009. Youth who are able to complete a telephone interview were contacted beginning in 2003. NLTS2 sent out a family/youth survey for those families/youth who were unable to be interviewed. The telephone interviews with parents and youth were provided in both English and Spanish.
  • School surveys Teachers and school staff who knew the youth well were asked to complete a mail survey about the youth's school program. These surveys were conducted in the spring of 2002 and 2004 for all students still in school in those years. In 2002 principals or school coordinators were asked to provide information about the youth's school, such as information about teacher training, school safety, and school policies.
  • Youth assessments An individual assessment was conducted by a trained professional with eligible youth. The assessment was arranged at a time convenient for the youth and, given at his or her school or home. Parents were notified when an assessment was scheduled. The assessment included questions about reading, math, science, and social studies. The assessment also included an interview that covered how youth feel about themselves, about school and learning, and about their social relationships. When the direct assessment of a youth was not appropriate, an alternate assessment (a teacher-completed checklist) was conducted.

    The assessment was conducted only once, in either the spring of 2002 or the spring of 2004, when the youth was 16 to 18 years old.

  • Transcripts To better understand school programs and achievements of students, transcripts were collected each year a youth was enrolled in high school.

What is involved in the school data collection activities?

How was the school compensated for participating in NLTS2?

To express our appreciation to teachers and staff for participating in NLTS2 in 2002 and 2004, 20 study schools randomly were selected to receive $500 gift certificates for school supplies. School site study coordinators received a stipend* for being a point of contact between the school and the study. Each teacher completing a survey questionnaire received a $5 honorarium..

*School or school districts were sent stipends ranging from $50 to $280, depending on the number of students in the study.

What was the role of the study coordinator?

  1. In fall 2003, confirmed whether study students attended the school. For students who were no longer at the school, indicated what school they transferred to (if that information was available).
  2. In winter or spring 2004, helped field assessors by providing the names of the appropriate teachers to contact about whether students could complete a student assessment.
  3. In spring 2004, distributed questionnaires to teachers and encouraged teachers to complete the questionnaires.
  4. In spring 2004, provided the names of teachers to whom questionnaires were distributed.
  5. In spring 2004, completed qustionnaires about the school.
  6. At the end of the 2004 school year, provided transcripts for NLTS2 study students in the school who were in grades 9-12, or who had graduated.

Who completed the survey questionnaires?

  • Student's School Program Survey This survey was completed by the person best able to describe the overall school program of the student.
  • Teacher Survey This survey was completed by the person who taught the named student's first academic general education class on a typical Monday. (An academic general education class is one that takes place in a general education setting in one of the following subjects: language arts, mathematics, sciences, social sciences, humanities, or foreign language. This does not include physical education, music, art, adolescent skills, health, home economics, or industrial or other vocationally oriented areas and does not include any special education classes.)

What if the student changed schools and/or moved?

We followed youth until 2009. Youth, their parents, and their secondary schools informed NLTS2 by e-mail, by toll-free number, or by using the Web site update page.

How was confidentiality protected?

All information collected for the study is completely confidential, and the results of the study do not disclose information about any individual child, school, or school district. The Director of the Family Policy Compliance Office of the U.S. Department of Education authorized school districts to provide student information to SRI International under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The NLTS2 study was authorized to collect data under law 20 U.S.C. 123g; 34 CFR Part 99. School personnel were permitted to disclose to the study information contained in students' education records without fear of violating FERPA because SRI International acted as an authorized representative of the U.S. Department of Education.

What was the study timeline?

The table below depicts the timing of each planned study activity. Note that the school characteristics survey was completed only once, even if several sampled students attended the same school.

NLTS2 Timeline
Instrument 2000-
Parent Interview x   x   x   x   x  
Youth Interview     x   x   x   x  
Direct Assessment   x   x            
Teacher Survey   x   x            
School Program Survey   x   x            
School Characteristics Survey   x                
Transcripts   x x x x x x x x  
Analysis x x x x x x x x x x

How much time did data collection activities take?

The following table depicts the estimated amount of time required for each type of data collection:

Estimated Time Required for Each Data Collection Activity
Data Collection Time (minutes)
Parent/youth interviews 30
Student assessment/student interviews 60
Teacher survey 30
School program survey 30
School characteristics survey 20
Transcripts 15

Is NLTS2 information confidential?

Yes. All information collected as part of NLTS2 is completely confidential. Study reports will report only group summary data.

How were school districts and students selected for the study?

Through a careful process, school districts were identified and were randomly selected on the basis of their geographic region, size, and socioeconomic status. These school districts were contacted and invited to participate in the study. In all cases, a district was given the option not to participate in NLTS2. For each district that agreed to participate, NLTS2 asked for the district's list of special education students along with each student's grade, date of birth, and disability classification. From the more than 500 districts that agreed to participate, approximately 12,000 students were randomly selected to participate in NLTS2. This selection was based on the student's age and disability classification.