Harmonizing Ratings From Different School Environment Assessment Methods: A Simplified Approach

Xue Zhao, Rebecca E. Lee, Tracey A. Ledoux, Deanna M. Hoelscher, Thomas L. McKenzie, Daniel P. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study describes a method for harmonizing data collected with different tools to compute a rating of compliance with national recommendations for school physical activity (PA) and nutrition environments. Methods: We reviewed questionnaire items from 84 elementary schools that participated in the Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) project, which was 3 distinct childhood obesity prevention projects in 7 communities in California, Massachusetts, and Texas. Each project used tools specific to its programs, schools, and communities. While this approach increased the feasibility of data collection, it created a challenge with the need to combine data across projects. We evaluated all questionnaire items and retained only those items that assessed one or more recommendations and constructed several items to indicate compliance or noncompliance with the respective associated recommendations. Results: Ten constructed items covered 11 of the 20 recommendations. Analysis indicated that the scores detected variability in compliance both among communities and among school within communities. Conclusions: The scores captured differences in compliance with the national recommendations at multiple levels. Our method, designed for creating common scores, may be useful in integrated data analysis, systematic reviews, or future studies requiring harmonizing of data collected via different tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-98
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • environmental health
  • evaluation
  • health policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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