In Vancouver, the Canadian Early Learning Network has begun an important and ambitious data integration and mapping project designed to provide an integrated view of children’s health and development at the neighborhood level. Using the geocoded results of a school readiness assessment that is now provided to all children at kindergarten entry, they have linked school readiness measures at a school or neighborhood level to a range of other indicators of health, educational achievement, and availability and receipt of services. For example, at a neighborhood level, data are provided about the relationship of low school readiness scores (overall or in a particular domain) with availability of child care, libraries, use of health services, etc. Because it is being done at the school or neighborhood level, it mitigates some of the confidentiality issues, since data are not analyzed at the individual level. Moreover, this school or neighborhood analysis strategy also lends itself to population-based approaches to finding ways of addressing disparities and gradients in health and developmental outcomes, not just those that focus on a particular child. This is important if the type of population health approaches that a community seeks is to shift the curve in a positive direction for the entire population.
states, and often the school systems within a state, to determine which tools will be used for assessment. Similarly, Readiness for School: A Survey of State Policies and Definitions documented in fall 2000 that only 13 states conducted statewide screenings or assessments when children enter kindergarten; 5 states required the screenings or assessments but local school districts decided how to do them; and 26 states did not mandate any readiness assessments. The National Education Goals Panel (1997) has made recommendations for defining and assessing school readiness, but educators have not been able to reach consensus on if, what, or how this should be done (Saluja, Scott-Little, and Clifford, 2000). Standardized data on school readiness and performance in grades 4 and 8 could advance efforts to identify practices most effective in helping children perform at the same level of their peers even though they are behind when they start kindergarten (see Box 6-6 for an approach in Vancouver using school readiness data).
In developing a data system, it is important to follow a logical cycle from planning to development to implementation and to involve relevant program and community leaders in developing system specifications. Such a system should be developed with a clear set of requirements based on the various processes or