Fall 2021: Two new measures and updated data

Nov. 1, 2021

Samantha Breslin

Over the last 6 months we’ve been hard at work on some exciting metric updates to the Dashboard. Starting today, users can now access two new measures -- Routine Checkups and Third-Grade Reading Scores (replacing Third-Grade Reading Proficiency). We have also updated data for 3 metrics across our focus areas of physical environment and social and economic factors. Read on to learn more about what’s new.

Introducing Routine Checkups, 18+

When people regularly attend checkups with their doctor, they are better able to identify issues and manage their health. This is especially true when it comes to chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Around two-thirds of Americans reported that they saw a physician for a checkup in the last year. Yet within diverse cities that have larger economically disadvantaged communities, disparities exist because of transportation, health insurance status, or a lack of awareness. And these gaps in care are expected to grow in the coming years.

Using data from the CDC’s PLACES Project and 500 Cities Project, the Dashboard now displays routine checkups, which measures the percentage of adults 18 and older who reported having visited a doctor for a routine checkup within the previous year. This metric is available at the city and census-tract level for 500 cities between 2014 and 2017, and all Dashboard cities in 2018. Equipped with these data, city leaders can identify where gaps in access to care exist across neighborhoods and direct resources towards the communities that need them most.

Learn more about the metric.

Updated Education Measures

Third-Grade Reading Scores

The Dashboard has replaced the third-grade reading proficiency metric with third-grade reading scores, using data from the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA). third-grade reading scores looks at average test scores (in grade levels) of public school third-graders compared to the national average for third-graders and excludes special education schools and virtual schools. This update is particularly exciting because SEDA standardizes their estimates and allows for better comparability across cities and states. This metric is available at the city-level and has multi-year data from 2011-2018. Demographic data will also be available by gender and race/ethnicity.

It is important to note that this will be the first time we’ve been able to provide third-grade reading data for our Dashboard cities with a population 50,000-66,000 (250 cities). This is an important update, giving community leaders, urban planners, city officials, and residents from these smaller cities a clearer picture of the challenges facing their communities, better positioning them to drive change.

Learn more about the metric.


The Dashboard revised the methods used to calculate this metric to make sure it’s as useful as possible, including changing the school inclusion criteria. While the new metric excludes special education and virtual schools, the earlier version included all school types. We made this change to match the school inclusion criteria of our third-grade reading scores metric, so these two education metrics are more comparable. We also replaced 2015-2016 data with 2017-2018, so the data on the site is the most recent available.

New Years of Data

We strive to keep Dashboard data as timely as possible, and are excited to update two measures in this month’s data release. See what we’ve updated:

  • Limited access to healthy foods

  • Unemployment: current city-level (now through June 2021)

With these data, users can see how metrics vary over time in cities, essential context for policies and programs aimed at addressing these issues.

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