System of Measuring Progress

Any neighborhood that wishes to ensure the successful development of their children and youth must assess or measure the performance of those children and youth as well as the supportive behavior of their families and schools and the protective properties of their neighborhood. Just as we carefully measure the performance of our economy, we need to measure how well we raise our children. Tables M1 and M2 illustrate how the PNRC measures align with the Promise Neighborhood 2010 and 2011 RFA Indicators of education, family, and community supports (updated 8-9-2011). Table M3 (updated 8-11-2011) illustrates how each PNRC measure aligns with the comprehensive PNRC model.

If you would like to implement our measurement system, please click here to see our user-friendly guide to data collection, management, and analyzing (updated 9-1-2011).

Below you will find links to the various tools that you can use to help develop a profile of your neighborhood. Please check back periodically for the most up-to-date versions of these documents as we continue to make improvements based on pilot data results.

Good measures of these developmental milestones should be (1) reliable so that we know that the measure holds up under repeated assessments, (2) valid so that we know we are actually measuring what we intend to measure, and (3) efficient estimates of the status of the neighborhood and its residents. They should be easy to collect and analyze and clear and easy to communicate. In addition, measures for individual children/youth should relate closely to measures of groups of children/youth, so that parents and professionals can identify children/youth who are not making desired developmental progress and provide them with focused interventions and other resources early and effectively.

At the same time, continuous progress monitoring is a fundamental component of any effort to improve human wellbeing. It is a key component of the Harlem Children’s Zone1 a standard practice in effective teaching, and an essential element in community change interventions. Ensuring the successful development of young people in neighborhoods depends on continuous monitoring, not of only ultimate outcomes such as high school graduation, but also the day-to-day achievements of developing young people, such as test performance, as well as all of the influences on their development, such safe and supportive homes, schools and neighborhoods.

In anticipation of the PN initiative, the PNRC developed a model of the cognitive, social-emotional, behavioral, and health outcomes at each stage of development (from pregnancy to emerging adulthood) that are critical to subsequent successful development. It then thoroughly reviewed the empirical evidence to identify the proximal and distal influences that most affect these outcomes at each phase of development. The proximal influences include the quality of parenting, the quality of schooling, and peer relations. The distal influences are poverty, social cohesion in the neighborhood, and the physical environment of neighborhood.

The PNRC has created a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to measuring child and neighborhood indicators of distress and developmental progress in high poverty neighborhoods. The PNRC’s approach includes acquiring and utilizing neighborhood, school, family and individual level data from four sources:

  1. Archival (pre existing) data about the neighborhood – Archival Measures (AM)
  2. A neighborhood survey of random samples of households every month to assess characteristics of the neighborhood not readily available in archival data sources – Community Member Survey (CMS)
  3. Archival school data from neighborhood schools – School Report Data (SRD)
  4. Surveys of enrolled students, teachers, and parents: (a) Child Survey (CS), (c) Youth Survey (YS), (d) Parent Survey (as part of the Community Member Survey (CMS), and (e) Teacher Survey (TS).

Together these four sources of information will provide assessments and indictors required by the Promise Neighborhood Request for Applications. They also provide value-added measures and items that provide enhanced information about the strengths and areas in need of attention in order to reduce neighborhood distress and improve child outcomes.


  1. Tough, P. (2008). Whatever it takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America. New York: Houghton Mifflin.