Data on school readiness

Who collects data on school readiness and for what purpose?

A variety of partners, including early childhood educators, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers, and social and child welfare workers, may be collecting data to assess school readiness. Pediatricians can also play a role in promoting school readiness as part of their efforts to promote overall wellness and screen for factors associated with school readiness, including social determinants of health.34 Data on school readiness often comes from school readiness assessment tools. A comprehensive, although not exhaustive, list of school readiness assessment tools can be found in Appendix C

Although the main purpose of individual-level school readiness assessments is to measure how well prepared a child is for school, aggregate-level data can be used to compare trends over time, compare schools or school districts across a larger jurisdiction, and identify schools or school districts that are seeing an increased proportion of students who are not meeting the criteria of school readiness. For example, those who work in early childhood education, kindergarten teachers, and social and child welfare workers routinely assess school readiness to identify the strengths and challenges faced by individual children, as well as monitor the progress of learning in young children (typically ages three to six years). Teachers and school personnel also use school readiness assessment data to guide teacher training, curriculum development, and academic planning.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) developed the Healthy and Ready to Learn (HRTL) Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant National Outcome Measures (NOMs). The NOMs use 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 zero to 17—across four domains and one cumulative summary measure. The four domains include early learning skills, self-regulation, social-emotional development, and physical well-being and motor development. Because the Healthy and Ready to Learn measure was developed within the NSCH, state-level estimates of young children’s kindergarten readiness can be obtained, though multiple years of data may need to be combined for smaller states.

Although individual-level school readiness assessments are used to measure how well prepared a child is for school, aggregate-level data can be used to:

  • Compare trends over time.
  • Compare schools or school districts across a larger jurisdiction.
  • Identify schools or school districts that are seeing an increased proportion of students who are not meeting the criteria of school readiness.

All of the above may be indicative of mental health needs or inequities in access to early development support.

Feature your story

Have you used school readiness data within your health department? If so, we would love to hear from you and feature your story in this playbook. 

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