Program Outcomes for Children


Introduction to the NCEO Model

The process of defining appropriate children's outcomes and indicators for use in State Strengthening projects led the National Outcome Work Group for Children through a review of models that might provide a theoretical foundation for the groupís work.  After significant review and discussion, efforts focused on a model published by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (Ysseldyke & Thurlow, 1993), which was designed with public education and special education settings in mind.  The Childrenís Work Group concluded that the NCEO model mapped well onto a broader child development research literature base and was applicable to a wide range of programs seeking to improve outcomes for children, with minimal adaptation.  Members of the Work Group proposed an adaptation of the NCEO model for use in more informal community-based program settings (Peisher & Bales, 1998), and the group has continued to refine the indicators for use in designing and evaluating CYFAR and State Strengthening Projects.  Senior staff of the NCEO graciously agreed to review applications of the model by the Childrenís Work Group and provided permission to reproduce parts of the model for this website.

The NCEO model was the result of a two year development process under the leadership of James Ysseldyke and Martha Thurlow at the University of Minnesota.  The process began with identification of five alternative approaches to child outcomes: an educational model, a sociological model, a political/pragmatic model, a psychological model, and a developmental model.  The general model, with eight domains of child outcomes and related indicators, emerged from a consensus-building process that included state departments of education, federal agencies, professional associations, parents and advocacy groups (Ysseldyke & Thurlow, 1993). 

In subsequent reports, the NCEO applied the conceptual model and outcome domains to different age and grade levels, with adjustments for the age and developmental level of the child (Ysseldyke, 1993; Ysseldyke, 1994a; Ysseldyke, 1994b; Thurlow & Ysseldyke, 1993).  On this website, the Childrenís Work Group considers each outcome domain separately with appropriate literature review and discussion of indicators and measures.

In the conceptual model, Resources (both human and financial) are used to provide a Learning Opportunity and Process (any educational or other program intervention process that results in change in any of eight Outcome Domains).  The Outcome Domains identified are:  1) Presence & Participation, 2) Family Involvement / Accommodation & Adaptation, 3) Physical Health, 4) Responsibility & Independence, 5) Contribution & Citizenship, 6) Academic & Functional Literacy, 7) Personal & Social Adjustment, and 8) Satisfaction.  For each domain, the NCEO model specifies several outcome components, indicators of achievement, and suggested data sources.  Indicators are defined as symbolic representations of one or more outcomes, which can be used in making comparisons (Thurlow & Ysseldyke, 1993).  Indicators, then, are those statistics that are derived from assessments of children with respect to a particular outcome.  The NCEO model (as adapted for community-based programs) divides outcomes into two types:  educational or program outcomes which are the result of interactions between individuals and school or program experiences; and enabling outcomes which are the result of interactions between individuals and life experiences that provide them with the opportunity to attain educational or program outcomes (Ysseldyke & Thurlow, 1993).  The first two outcome domains listed, Presence & Participation and Family Involvement/Accommodation & Adaptation, are enabling outcomes because they enable the participant to reach educational or program outcomes.  However, they are listed as separate outcome domains because they need to be measured as part of a meaningful evaluation.

A schematic diagram of the model elements (Domains, Outcomes, Indicators, and Data Sources) follows.  Though a diagram can hardly do justice to the model and the extensive process involved in developing it, it does allow a quick overview of the ways outcomes are defined in eight major areas, and of the ways indicators for the outcomes are proposed.  The indicators for each domain have required some adaptation for informal and community programs such as State Strengthening projects, and these modifications are considered as part of in-depth discussions of each domain area elsewhere on this website. 

NCEO Model

Key Outcome Domains and Outcome Components in the NCEO Model:
(See individual domain descriptions for indicators and potential data sources)

Outcome Domain: 

  • Is enrolled for the school, program, or activity experience
  • Participates actively in planned school or program activities
  • Attends school or program regularly and completes the program

Outcome Domain:

  • Demonstrates involvement and support for child's needs
  • Has access to resources to support child
  • Makes adaptations, accommodations, or compensations necessary to achieve outcomes in each of the major domains

Outcome Domain:

  • Demonstrates age-appropriate physical development
  • Has access to basic health care
  • Is aware of basic safety and health care needs
  • Is physically fit

Outcome Domain:

  • Demonstrates age-appropriate independence
  • Gets about in the environment
  • Demonstrates age-appropriate responsibility for self

Outcome Domain:

  • Complies with rules, limits, and routines
  • Volunteers for age-appropriate tasks at home, school, and in the community

Outcome Domain:

  • Demonstrates competence in communication
  • Demonstrates competence in problem-solving
  • Demonstrates competence in pre-academic and academic skills
  • Demonstrates competence in using technology

Outcome Domain:

  • Copes effectively with personal challenges, frustrations, and stressors
  • Has a good self image
  • Respects cultural and individual differences
  • Gets along with other people

Outcome Domain:

  • Parent/guardian satisfaction with the program services that children receive
  • Community satisfaction with the program services that children receive
  • Child satisfaction with program experience

Peisher, A. V., & Bales, D. W. (1998). An application of the conceptual model of outcomes of the National Center on Educational Outcomes for the Children, Youth and Families At Risk National Working Group for Children. Unpublished paper, March 16, 1998, Athens, GA: University of Georgia Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Ysseldyke, J. E., & Thurlow, M. (1993, October).  Developing a Model of Educational Outcomes (NCEO Report No. 1).  Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, College of Education, National Center on Educational Outcomes.

Ysseldyke, J. E., Thurlow, M. L., & Erickson, R. N. (1993). Educational outcomes and indicators for early childhood (Age 6), National Center on Educational Outcomes, Minneapolis, MN.

Ysseldyke, James E. (1993). Educational Outcomes and Indicators for Early Childhood (Age 3), National Center on Educational Outcomes, Minneapolis, MN.

Ysseldyke, James E. (1994). Educational Outcomes and Indicators for Grade 4, National Center on Educational Outcomes, Minneapolis, MN.

Ysseldyke, James E. (1994). Educational Outcomes and Indicators for Grade 8, National Center on Educational Outcomes, Minneapolis, MN.

Thurlow, Martha L., & Ysseldyke, James E. (1993, March) Can All Really Mean All in Defining and Assessing Student Outcomes?,  Synthesis Report 5.  National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Alexandria, VA; National Center on Educational Outcomes, Minneapolis, MN; Saint Cloud State Univ., MN.

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