Target Setting Guide: Approaches for Target Setting

States may use a variety of target setting approaches1 and should clearly and completely explain their rationale and methods. The following information provides an overview and examples of methods states may want to consider.

Percent or Percentage Point Improvement

Percent or percentage point improvements are common methods for setting targets. Following are several different ways of determining and applying these changes over time to target-setting methods.

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Start with the End Goal

Decide on the target for the last year of the SPP/APR cycle. One approach to setting the end goal is to determine a meaningful/statistically different value from baseline or current data. The Child Outcomes Year-to-Year Meaningful Differences Calculator for States can be used for the C3/B7 indicators on child outcomes.

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Trend Analysis and Forecasting

A trendline, also referred to as a line of best fit, is a straight or curved line on a chart that shows the general pattern or overall direction of the data. Trend analysis is most often used to show data movement over time, particularly to estimate data in future years. You can decide on a target based on the trendline projection. An important consideration in trend analysis is how far back to go; that is, when to start the trendline.

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Statistical Modeling/Analysis

Statistical analysis can be used to help predict future results and thus, targets, using additional data such as population data, regional data, or outliers.

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Additional Considerations

For each of the approaches, consider changes in state circumstances that may impact performance in any given year, such as data quality issues or the scope and status of improvement initiatives. There may be legitimate reasons for maintaining stability for a few years, and targets may remain the same for several years.

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1Hubbard, K., Makram, T., Klein, R., & Huang, D. 2020. Target-Setting Methods in Healthy People 2030. Healthy People Statistical Notes.

Published June 2021.