HRSA launches pilot measure on learning readiness in young children

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Thursday, August 9, 2018

A new study led by the Health Resources and Services Administration and published in Child Indicators Research describes the first-ever national pilot measure of young children’s readiness for school across multiple domains. The measure uses 2016 data from the HRSA National Survey of Children’s Health.

“Children start forming the skills needed to thrive in school during the first years of life, so it is key to understand what comprises learning readiness and identify children who may require extra support,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. “Today’s HRSA study provides the first-ever standardized, multidimensional measure of the extent to which parents view our nation’s young children are healthy and ready to learn.”

The new “Healthy and Ready to Learn” measure, created with researchers from Child Trends, is based off 18 individual survey items. The analysis found that parents report nearly 75% of three-to-five-year-olds are progressing well in at least three out of four areas identified through this study: early learning skills, self-regulation, social-emotional development, and physical health/motor development. However, 10% are progressing well in only one, or none, of those areas.

Funded and led by HRSA and redesigned in 2016 with questions to assess learning readiness, the National Survey of Children’s Health produces national and state data annually from voluntary responses collected from parents of more than 50,000 children across the U.S.

“Our pilot measure considers not only age-relevant attainment of cognitive skills, but also social, emotional, and physical aspects of a young child’s readiness to learn in school,” said study lead Reem Ghandour, Dr.P.H., of HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau. “Taken as a whole, this measure can help policy makers, service providers, researchers, and parents understand some of the factors that can affect school readiness and explore opportunities to assist where needed.”

The HRSA National Survey of Children’s Health will release 2017 data in October 2018. To learn more about the Survey, visit

Date Last Reviewed:  August 2018