Indicator List for Youth Development

Young girl

Child Trends brings a multi-disciplinary perspective to its studies of adolescents and young adults and the programs that serve them.  We conduct national and local evaluations of after-school and prevention programs. These evaluations include not only impact evaluations to examine whether programs are effective but also implementation evaluations to examine how they work—and how they might be improved through changes at the program, organizational and systems level.  We work with programs and funders to ensure that programs are ready for evaluation by helping develop logic models, conduct needs assessments, and develop and refine their performance management capacities.  A critical part of our work is research to understand and measure adolescent and young adult well-being for national studies and evaluations.

We also compile evaluations by researchers from around the world and synthesize these studies to identify effective (and ineffective) programs and practices. The information is widely disseminated in clear language via research briefs, policy briefings, webinars and through technical assistance to practitioners and local communities.

Indicator List for Youth Development

Percentage of Students Who Smoke Cigarettes Daily, by Grade, 1976-2011

Daily Cigarette Use

The prevalence of daily cigarette use among youth declined dramatically in the 2000s, decreasing to less than half of what it was in 1999, from 23 to nine percent among twelfth-graders in 2012.


Distracted Driving

Distracted driving poses a serious and potentially deadly risk to young people.  In 2009, 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving.  Among all drivers, inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes.


Homeless Children and Youth

While estimating the homeless population is difficult, about 1.1 million students in the U.S. were homeless at the start of the the 2010-2011 school year.  Children not enrolled in school,  although their numbers are less easily measured, push the total number of homeless children and youth significantly higher.


Illicit Drug Use

In 2012, more than one in six twelfth-grade students reported using illicit drugs other than marijuana in the past year. This proportion has been slowly declining for the last decade. Similar rates among eighth- and tenth-grade students are the lowest they have been since at least 1991.