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Secondary Analysis Lab

M Cecil Smith, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, and Lucas Moore, Director of the Program Evaluation and Research Center are collaborating to establish the Secondary Analysis Lab as a resource for School of Education faculty members and graduate students. The purpose of the Lab is to both encourage and support the utilization and analysis of a wide variety of education and social sciences data sets to address important education and social policy questions.

Every year, federal and state agencies gather population-level data on a variety of children, youth, and adult populations. Examples include the National Household Education Surveys (National Center for Education Statistics;, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Heath (Add Health; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD);, and the Monitoring the Future Study (University of Michigan Institute for Social Research;

Many of these data sets are archived and available for education researchers and social scientists to use but, unfortunately, many such data sets are under-utilized.

A principal advantage of secondary data analysis for the investigator is that relevant data have already been gathered and are organized for analyses, rendering great savings in time and money. Although there are some limitations to secondary data analysis (i.e., not all relevant variables will be captured in a particular data set), the ease with which studies can be conducted and subsequently published is particularly advantageous.

The Secondary Analysis Lab will:
  • assist faculty members to obtain data sets of interest;
  • provide secure data storage for all data in compliance with data owners’ standards for data security;
  • train faculty members and graduate students in secondary data analytic methods;
  • provide statistical and methodological expertise and consultation to faculty members and graduate students using secondary data sets for research.

Both PERC and the CAHS Research Office also provide limited funding opportunities to support faculty research employing secondary data sets.

Secondary Analysis Lab Team

  • M Cecil Smith, Ph.D.
  • Reagan Curtis, Ph.D., PERC Founder
  • Lucas Moore, Ed.D., PERC Director
  • Monica Leppma, Ph.D., Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology
  • Megan Smith, doctoral student, Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program

Current Projects

Associations of U.S. adults’ learning strategies to their literacy proficiencies M Cecil Smith

Collaborating with colleagues at Northern Illinois University and Texas State University, Smith is conducting an analysis of data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies ( The PIAAC is a household survey sponsored by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In the United States, the study was conducted in 2011-2012 with a nationally representative sample of 5,000 adults between the ages of 16 and 65. ThePIAAC will enable researchers and policymakers to address important questions about adults’ educational preparation, workforce readiness, family and health literacy, and literacy and problem solving skills in everyday contexts.

Useful Data Archives
for Secondary Analysis Research

Crime and Safety Survey

(publicly available)

Sample: Elementary & Secondary Schools; surveys have been done from the perspectives of students, teachers, schools/principals, and school districts.

Overview: Currently, two surveys are being conducted on a regular basis by NCES: the School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), a survey of public schools/principals, and the School Crime Supplement (SCS) to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), a survey of students ages 12 through 18.

Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002

(publicly available)

Sample: High School Sophomores

Overview: This report draws on ELS:2002 data collected in 2012 to describe the outcomes of the cohort at about age 26, approximately 10 years after they were high school sophomores. These outcomes reflect several key life course markers of the transition into early adulthood, including high school and postsecondary educational attainment, entering the labor market and starting a career, marriage and family formation, student debt and aid, and the perceived impact of the college experience. The First Look tables provide national estimates for these phenomena, explored in terms of differences by sophomores’ demographic, social, and academic characteristics.

National Assessment of Adult Literacy

(publicly available)

Sample: Nationally representative, 16 rs old +,1992, 2003
Overview: The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy is a nationally representative assessment of English literacy among American adults age 16 and older. Sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), NAAL is the nation’s most comprehensive measure of adult literacy since the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). In 2003, over 19,000 adults participated in the national and state-level assessments, representing the entire population of U.S. adults who are age 16 and older, most in their homes and some in prisons from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Approximately 1,200 inmates of federal and state prisons were assessed in order to provide separate estimates of literacy for the incarcerated population.

National Household Education Surveys Program

(publicly available)

Sample: early childhood to school age through adulthood 1991-current

Overview: The National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES) provides descriptive data on the educational activities of the U.S. population and offers researchers, educators, and policymakers a variety of statistics on the condition of education in the United States. The NHES surveys cover learning at all ages, from early childhood to school age through adulthood. The most recent data collection in 2012 consisted of two surveys: Parent and Family Involvement in Education and Early Childhood Program Participation.

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth

(publicly available)

Sample: A nationally-representative sample of over 12,000 young men and women ages 14-21 surveyed in 1979, were re-interviewed annually through 1994, and as of today (2012)

Overview: The primary focus of the study is work and employment, but the survey includes many topics beyond labor force involvement, covering issues such as family developments and relationships, health, social welfare receipt, educational experiences, personality characteristics and attitudes. Some measures have been included consistently from year to year; others have been used more sporadically.

National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Mature Women

(publicly available)

Sample: Mature women was a group of women in their 30s and early 40s, many of whom were reentering the workforce and balancing the roles of homemaker, mother and labor force participants. The NLS of Young women was comprised of women in their teen and early 20s who were completing school, making initial career and job decisions, and starting families.1960’s to present (followed for 3 decades)

Overview: These cohorts were selected because each faced important labor market decisions, which were of special concern to policy makers.and attitudes. Some measures have been included consistently from year to year; others have been used more sporadically.

National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Men and Older Men

(publicly available)

Sample: Young Men, ages 14-24, Mature Men 45-59 when first interviewed in 1966. 1966-1981, 1966-1990

Overview: YM—educational experiences including a separate survey of respondents’ high schools, training investments, and career choices, as well as marital and fertility histories. Their work history is also followed, allowing for research on areas such as returns to schooling, effects of teenage unemployment, the transition from school to work, job search, racial wage differentials, and earnings mobility and inequality. MM— Data collection focused on topics such as work and nonwork experiences, retirement planning, health conditions, insurance coverage, and the ways in which respondents spent their leisure time. The survey also tracked labor market decisions such as middle-age job changes, retirement expectations and experiences, and reentry to the labor market after initial retirement.

More databases to be listed soon!