The channelized Hotelling observer (CHO) is a powerful method for quantitative image quality evaluations of CT systems and their image reconstruction algorithms. It has recently been used to validate the dose reduction capability of iterative image-reconstruction algorithms implemented on CT imaging systems. The use of the CHO for routine and frequent system evaluations is desirable both for quality assurance evaluations as well as further system optimizations. The use of channels substantially reduces the amount of data required to achieve accurate estimates of observer performance. However, the number of scans required is still large even with the use of channels. This work explores different data reduction schemes and designs a new approach that requires only a few CT scans of a phantom. For this work, the leave-one-out likelihood (LOOL) method developed by Hoffbeck and Landgrebe is studied as an efficient method of estimating the covariance matrices needed to compute CHO performance. Three different kinds of approaches are included in the study: a conventional CHO estimation technique with a large sample size, a conventional technique with fewer samples, and the new LOOL-based approach with fewer samples. The mean value and standard deviation of area under ROC curve (AUC) is estimated by shuffle method. Both simulation and real data results indicate that an 80% data reduction can be achieved without loss of accuracy. This data reduction makes the proposed approach a practical tool for routine CT system assessment.