Using Performance Indicators to Drive Impact

If you’re a Head Start organization, then you know there are several reports and check-ins required throughout the year. One mandatory item is to complete an annual performance indicator report (PIR) which includes a comprehensive list of data related to programs and services. After pulling together all of the information necessary, how many Head Start programs then take this organized data and use it to make informed decisions about their program?

At Transform Consulting Group (TCG) we don’t know the answer to this question. However, we do know data is underutilized in several industries. Research shows 60% of nonprofit professionals don’t use data! As data nerds, we believe this is a problem. We work to challenge this statistic with all the organizations we support, including Head Start programs, to help them understand how to use data to drive program impact.

First, let’s talk about driving impact. Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits teaches that becoming a high-impact nonprofit is more than building a stand-alone organization that delivers great service. With the abundance of Head Start program data in the PIR, programs can tell a story beyond services and participants. The data can tell a story of the organization’s outputs, accomplishments, and areas for opportunity. (Read more about how to use data to tell your story in this blog). We want you to do more than meet basic requirements and have included 3 recommendations for Head Start programs to use PIR data to drive program impact.

Using PIR Data To Drive Impact

  1. Refer to the original data sources used to organize the PIR data to determine what, if any, of the program data can be linked (via student, program, teacher, etc.). Linking data across various disciplines allows programs to see how the areas may or may not impact each other. For example, programs can link attendance data with child outcome data to determine if students who are chronically absent perform worse on child outcomes compared to those students who miss little to no program days. If you find you aren’t able to link your information, check out this blog for managing program data.
  2. Compare your grantee’s PIR information to that of the national summary, state summaries, and/or other local grantee summaries. PIR summaries become public facing on the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center. We drafted a case study example on the National Head Start Association Data Playbook that compares Indiana’s Head Start program schedule to the National Head Start program schedule. This revealed Indiana is behind at getting their programs to full-day, full-week operation compared to the rest of the country. View other ways we compared National data to Indiana Head Start in the 2019 Indiana Head Start Needs Assessment.


  3. Develop high-level infographics to tell your organization’s data story. These infographics can be used in board reports, funding applications, and in marketing materials. Infographics have the ability to demonstrate community needs, show how your organization meets needs, and call people to action. Check out our blog about the five ways infographics can maximize impact to learn more and generate ideas for your own infographics.

We don’t want to see your organization’s data sitting away in a file. Get it out to demonstrate your program’s impact and drive improvement. Several resources are highlighted in this blog to guide your work, but if you’re still feeling overwhelmed, we are happy to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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