National Outcome Measure of Healthy and Ready to Learn

Early ChildhoodNov 7 2018

The skills that children gain before kindergarten entry can greatly affect their ability to succeed in school and later in life. Consequently, communities are interested in providing resources to support young children, setting them on a path toward success in school and life. A robust and reliable way to measure—at the national, state, or local level—whether children are on track for school readiness can serve multiple purposes, including the following:

  • Describe children’s readiness for school in the years leading up to kindergarten entry.
  • Identify subgroups of children who are less likely to be on track for school readiness in order to inform program and policy decisions.
  • Form the basis for tracking trends over time to assess progress toward the goal of ensuring that all children are ready for school.

States and early childhood stakeholders have sought ways to capture such information about young children for years. However, until 2016, there was no single data source that provided a comprehensive, integrated assessment of multiple aspects of children’s health and development related to kindergarten preparedness.

The pilot Healthy and Ready to Learn Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant National Outcome Measure (NOM)[1] was developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (HRSA MCHB), in collaboration with Child Trends, to meet this need, and comes at a time of unprecedented investments in early childhood. It uses data from the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH), a nationally representative, annual household survey that assesses the health and development of children ages 3 to 5, across four domains, as well as in one cumulative summary measure. An initial pilot measure was created with the 2016 NSCH data, and a revised pilot measure was created with the combined 2017-2018 NSCH data. Child Trends continues to partner with HRSA MCHB to refine the measure. An updated version of the measure is slated to be included in the 2022 NSCH.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Healthy and Ready to Learn: A New National Outcome Measure of Kindergarten Readiness Frequently Asked Questions

Webinar: Updates to the Healthy and Ready to Learn Measure

Learn about updates to the National Outcome Measure of Healthy and Ready to Learn by viewing this webinar from June 2020. We developed a Questions and Answers document to address questions received during the webinar.

Webinar: Healthy and Ready to Learn – Developing a population-level measure of school readiness

Get an overview of the process of developing the Healthy and Ready to Learn National Outcome Measure and its importance to the early childhood field by watching this webinar from December 2018.

Project Contacts:

Katie Paschall – Research Scientist
Kristin Anderson Moore – Senior Scholar

[1] National outcome measures (NOMs) cross all population domains and reflect maternal and child population health status. More than two dozen NOMs have been developed and are tracked and reported by HRSA MCHB.