experimental design, provided that the data are being collected over time beginning before the program change is put into place).


Communities and youth programs interested in tracking indicators of youth development have two major sources of data to draw from: administrative and related data sources (e.g., school records, crime reports, social service receipt, vital statistics, decennial census) and surveys. Every community already has data relevant to youth development from its administrative data collection efforts, although there can be substantial differences across communities in the accessibility of those data to the public, even among the agencies that collect them. Few communities go to the added effort and expense of collecting survey data, although this is an excellent way to achieve a complete picture of the status of youth and the social factors affecting their development. Over the past decade, however, the number of communities conducting surveys has increased substantially.

In this section we review the data resources available to communities through the lens of the youth development framework developed in this report. This framework identified four outcome domains of development—described as personal and social assets—in Chapter 3 and eight social setting domains—described as features of positive developmental settings in Chapter 4. We also include “negative outcomes and behaviors” as a separate outcome domain.

We examine the types of indicator data available in each of the domains in our framework for commonly available administrative data, and for three of the more advanced survey instruments used for assessing youth development at the community and state levels. These are reviewed in terms of their coverage across the domains, data and measurement quality, and the extent to which their measures are grounded in the scientific literature. Topic-specific research instruments and national surveys are also discussed.2 The section finishes by considering issues of public access to the data generated by these sources.


Several major federal publications series, not reviewed here, provide regularly updated trend data on children and youth across a wide variety of domains. These include:

Trends in the Well-Being of America’s Children and Youth (<http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/99trends>)

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement