National Core Indicators

Measuring the performance of services and supports for people with IDD

Working with NASDDDS, individual state agencies, and self-advocates, we’ve been measuring the performance of services and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities—both within and across states. This groundbreaking data collection initiative is improving the quality of service delivery nationwide, and has produced the world’s largest dataset on outcomes for people with IDD.


National Core Indicators (NCI) supports state efforts to strengthen long-term care policy, inform quality assurance activities, and compare performance with national norms. Staff also publish data briefs on specific areas of interest, and the results of analyses of the multi-state dataset have been published in academic research journals and presented at conferences.

  • Evaluation
  • Quality Improvement
  • Data Collection and Analysis
  • Technical Assistance and Training
  • Dissemination

Establishing Quality Measures

Through in-person and mail-in surveys of service users and their families, NCI helps states measure crucial elements of person-centered planning, outcomes, and satisfaction in domains such as:

  • Service Coordination and Access
  • Relationships and Community Inclusion
  • Rights, Choices, and Decision-making
  • Employment Status and Goals
  • Health, Welfare, and Safety
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Each year, NCI produces national and state-specific reports detailing the data aggregated at the state level. The reports are available on the NCI website at NCI also provides publicly available tools to help states understand and report on their data, including an online Chart Generator.

Measuring performance

By helping to develop measures, data collection instruments, and protocols—and by aggregating, cleaning, analyzing and reporting on the data—we help give states a broad view of how their publicly funded services are impacting the quality of life and outcomes of service recipients. States use the data to track their own performance over time, to compare results across states, and to establish national benchmarks. 

Assessing outcomes through NCI became a critical element of our continuous quality improvement strategy. The value of such a robust national dataset is immeasurable and supported person-centered systems change in South Dakota, ensuring people were achieving personal outcomes.

Dan Lusk

Former Director for the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD), South Dakota

Improving systems

State DD agency directors and managers use NCI data to:

  • Establish annual program goals and objectives.
  • Evaluate the state’s performance scores on NCI domains compared to scores in other states. This has been helpful in securing resources, for changing policies, and to suggest implementation strategies.
  • Improve program and policy planning.
  • Assist state leaders in formulating policy positions and direct staff activities in key areas.
  • Facilitate productive discussions and activities with the state’s quality advisory council’s work on outcomes valued by self-advocates.
Project Partner(s):

NASDDDS | National Association of State Directors of Development Disabilities Services

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