What Assessment Scores Are Computed?

The NLSY79 Child data files contain summary scores for each assessment measure. For a subset of assessments, subscores are constructed. Where available, the user is provided with national norms based on the raw scores. Table 1 lists the raw and normed scores that are available for the most recent Child survey year. Summary scores and subscores for 2016, the most recent survey, can be found in the ASSESSMENT 2016 area of interest in the NLS Investigator. For prior survey rounds, summary scores and subscores can be found in the ASSESSMENT yyyy area of interest, where "yyyy" refers to the fielding year for each survey round.

The data file includes individual item responses as recorded in the field as well as interviewer reports of testing conditions for each assessment. Beginning in 2006, individual assessment item responses can be found in the ASSESSMENT ITEMS area of interest. For prior survey rounds, individual item responses can be found using the CHILD SUPPLEMENT yyyy or MOTHER SUPPLEMENT yyyy area of interest, where "yyyy" refers to the fielding year for each survey round. Edit or imputation "flags" are constructed for selected assessments to indicate where prorations were necessary or where alternate scoring schemes were considered.  Scoring procedures are addressed below in relation to specific assessments.

Table 1.  The Most Recent Assessment Scores on the NLSY79 Child File

Assessment Most Recent Scores (QNames)
  Assessment Most Recent Scores (QNames)
Raw Percentile Standard Raw Percentile Standard
Total HOME1   HOMEP2014 HOMEZ2014   Motor & Social Development--All MOTO2016 MOTOP2016 MOTOZ2016
           0-2 Years HOMEA2014         Same Gender   MOTOPX2016 MOTOZX2016
  3-5 Years HOMEB2014       Behavior Problems BPI2016 BPIP2016 BPIZ2016
  6-9 Years HOMEC2014                Antisocial ANTI2016 ANTIP2016 ANTIZ2016
  10 -14 Years HOMED2014         Anxious/Depressed DEP2016 DEPP2016 DEPZ2016
HOME Cognitive Stimulation1   COGNP2014 COGNZ2014     Headstrong HEAD2016 HEADP2016 HEADZ2016
  0-2 Years COGNA2014         Hyperactive HYPR2016 HYPRP2016 HYPRZ2016
  3-5 Years COGNB2014         Dependent DEP2016 DEPP2016 DEPZ2016
  6-9 Years COGNC2014         Peer Conflicts PEER2016 PEERP2016 PEERZ2016
  10 -14 Years COGND2014         Trichotomous Items BPTOTR2016 BPTOTP2016 BPTOTZ2016
HOME Emotional Support1   EMOTP2014 EMOTZ2014     External Score


  0-2 Years EMOTA2014         Internal Score BPINTR2016 BPINTP2016 BPINTZ2016
  3-5 Years EMOTB2014       Self-Perception      
  6-9 Years EMOTC2014         Scholastic SPPCS20184    
  10-14 Years EMOTD2014         Self-Worth SPPCG20184    
Temperament         Digit Span DIGIT2014   DIGITZ2014
  Activity2 ACTVTY2010         Forward DIGITF2014    
  Predictability2 PREDCT2010         Backward DIGITB2014    
  Fearfulness3 FEAR2012       PIAT Math MATH2014 MATHP2014 MATHZ2014
  Positive Affect3 AFFECT2012       PIAT Reading Recognition RECOG2014 RECOGP2014 RECOGZ2014
  Compliance COMPLY2016       PIAT Reading Comprehension COMP2014 COMPP2014 COMPZ2014
  Insecure Attachment INSECUR2016       PPVT-R PPVT2014 PPVTP2014 PPVTZ2014
  Sociability SOCIAB2014                
  Difficulty Composite--Abbrev.3 DIFFIC2012                
  Neg. Hedonic Tone Composite3 NEGATV2012                
  Friendliness Composite--Abbrev.3 FRIEND2012                
1 Internal norms provided.
2 These Temperament subscale scores are only available for survey years 1986-2000, 2008-2010.
3 These Temperament subscale scores are available for survey years 1986-2002, 2008-2012.
4 SPPC questions were asked in 2020 but composite scores were not created due to the small sample size.
Note: Question names for Knowledge of Body Parts and Memory for Location, last administered in 1988, and Verbal Memory, last administered in 1994, are not included in this table. See the Topical Guide for each of these assessments for more information about the scores available in the database.

Members of the CHRR staff have examined the assessment data as carefully as possible while preparing the assessment scores for the public use files. Researchers who encounter data or documentation problems with the assessments are encouraged to contact NLS user services. Should a problem be detected, we will inform data users by posting updates to and by correcting subsequent public releases.

Other child assessment documentation. Key references related to the assessments are cited in the References section. Users interested in additional research based on the NLSY79 child assessment data are encouraged to access the annotated, online NLS bibliography at

Detailed information about the validity of the Child data through the 1992 survey round can be found in the NLSY79 Children 1992: Description & Evaluation.  Background information on the child assessment data in the initial child survey rounds is discussed in The NLSY Child Handbook. Both documents are available on the Research/Technical Reports page.

Tables that describe the Child assessment scores in each survey round, starting with the 1994 data collection, can be found in a series of reports entitled The NLSY79 Child Assessments: Selected Tables. These reports display distributions of the raw and normed assessment scores by various child characteristics such as age and race/ethnicity. They are also available on the Research/Technical Reports page.