The Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of the Lifestyles and Values of Youth annual surveys were designed to explore changes in important values, behaviors, and lifestyle orientations of contemporary American youth. The surveys began in 1975 with 12th-grade students only. Eighth- and 10th-grade student surveys were added in 1991 under the title: Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of American Youth (8th- and 10th-Grade Surveys) and, in 1996, the designation "12th-Grade Survey" was added to the titles of the subsequent 12th-grade surveys. When examining the issues covered by the series, two general types of tasks may be distinguished. The first task is to provide a systematic and accurate description of the youth population of interest in a given year and to quantify the direction and rate of change occurring over time. The second task, more analytic than descriptive, involves the explanation of the relationships and trends observed. Each year, large, distinct, nationally representative samples of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students in the United States are asked to respond to drug use and demographic questions, as well as to additional questions on a variety of subjects, including attitudes toward religion, parental influences, changing roles of women, educational aspirations, self-esteem, exposure to sex and drug education, and violence and crime - both in and out of school. In each grade, students are randomly assigned to complete questionnaires with a subset of topical questions in addition to a set of core questions on demographics and drug use. Each form of the questionnaire generates a corresponding data file.
Multistage area probability sample design involving three selection stages: (1) geographic areas or primary sampling units (PSUs), (2) schools (or linked groups of schools) within PSUs, and (3) students within sampled schools. Of the 72 PSUs, 8 were selected with certainty and 62 were selected with probability proportionate to size based on the size of the senior class. In schools with more than 400 seniors, a random sample of seniors or classes was drawn. In schools with less than 400 seniors, all seniors were asked to participate. Each school was asked to participate for two years, so that each year one-half of the sample is replaced. Schools refusing participation were replaced with similar schools in terms of geographic location, size, and type of school (e.g., public, private/Catholic, private/non-Catholic). The participation rate among schools has been between 66 and 80 percent since the inception of the study. The overall student response rate for 1994 was 84 percent.