Developmental Screening and Authentic Assessment

Through Developmental and Social-Emotional Screening and Authentic Assessment, teaching staff deepen their shared understanding of children's development and learning across domains to inform instruction. Teaching staff collect evidence of student learning, then reflect and determine next steps to support individual growth. Please note, policies may vary for program type (Birth to Five, Family Child Care Networks, Early Head Start, and Head Start).

Developmental and Social-Emotional Screening

Developmental screening is a key part of a child’s transition into your program. Screening tools provide insight as to where children are across developmental milestones and assist educators in learning about the various aspects of a child’s development, such as language, cognition, perception, motor, and social-emotional development. All Infant/Toddler, 3K, and Pre-K programs must use the ASQ-3, a valid and reliable developmental screening tool, to support educators with informing and guiding critical supports and learning experiences for all children based on their individual strengths, interests, and needs.

Developmental screening is a snapshot, facilitated annually, within 45 days of a child’s enrollment, to identify potential risks for developmental delays, and thereby, helping to inform appropriate resources, supports, and/or interventions.

DECE Approved Developmental Screening Tool:

As of September 2023, all programs must use the Ages and Stages Questionnaire -Third Edition (ASQ-3). The DECE provides ASQ-3 materials to all programs. Programs that do not have ASQ-3 materials will receive the starter kit, which includes copy-ready print masters of the questionnaires and their scoring sheets, User Guides, and the Quick Start Guide. Programs that have previously received ASQ-3 materials may photocopy and reprint material.

Early Head Start and Head Start programs must also use Ages and Stages Questionnaires-Social Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ: SE-2). Please refer to the Head Start Program Performance Standards at 45 C.F.R. §1302.33 for more information about Head Start screening and assessment requirements.

Birth to Five programs are also encouraged to use the  Ages and Stages Questionnaires: Social Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ:SE-2) as their social-emotional screening tool. Social-emotional screening is encouraged within 45 days of enrollment and can also be used throughout the year with specific classrooms and/or children whenever it may be supportive.

Please contact your respective Leadership Coach with questions about ASQ-3 or ASE:SE-2 materials or ASQ Online access.

NYCPS Expectations

Programs are required to use the ASQ-3 to identify potential developmental delays and language support needs.

Key Requirements

  • Teaching teams are required to administer the ASQ-3 developmental screener to all children within 45 calendar days of enrollment.
  • Children must be screened each school year.
  • Early childhood programs must enter screening results through Payroll or Vendor Portal within 21 calendar days of screening.
  • Staff administering the screenings should consider the needs and backgrounds of the children they are serving and ensure that screenings are implemented using culturally, linguistically, and developmentally responsive methods.

Developmental screenings do not have to be administered to children currently receiving Early Intervention services or currently receiving preschool special education services. If a child's screening results indicate they need to be re-screened for any reason, programs must re- screen the child within 8-10 weeks of the original screening. If the screening is not available in a child's home language, and you have exhausted all other resources, programs may mark a language exception for the child in the Portal. Programs should work to provide the child with language support and instruction.

Early Head Start and Head Start programs:

Screenings must be valid and reliable for the population for which they will be used and must be culturally and linguistically appropriate. 

If a child speaks a language other than English, a program should use any resource available, such as a family member, qualified bilingual staff, translation line, or consultant to conduct the screening in partnership with the family.

If there is no qualified bilingual staff, contractor, or consultant, the program must use an interpreter in conjunction with a qualified staff person. If there is no qualified bilingual staff, and no interpreter, then screenings may be conducted in English.

Questions can be restated and rephrased to improve comprehension. Be sure to maintain the intent of the item.

Please refer to the  Head Start Program Performance Standards for more information about Early Head Start and Head Start requirements. 

Staff Qualifications

Leaders are responsible for ensuring that staff implementing the ASQ-3 questionnaires meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Must complete self-paced professional learning (linked below). An asynchronous professional learning experience has been provided for teachers and leaders to learn more about the elements and implementation of the ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE-2.
  • Must create a screening plan for inviting families and caregivers to complete the ASQ-3 questionnaires. Note that questionnaires should be completed in partnership with families and caregivers. Family and caregiver input is critical, and the screening plan must include invitations for caregivers to participate.


Self-paced training for the ASQ-3 is available through this link. Additional resources can be found here.

The DECE will also provide resources and materials to support the implementation of the ASQ:SE-2, including professional learning opportunities to provide an overview of the ASQ:SE-2 tool, support teaching teams to partner with families to complete the questionnaire, and review how to score ASQ:SE-2 and interpret scores.

All families must receive the Introduction to Developmental Screening letter prior to any screening beginning at your program. In response to this letter, families, and caregivers may opt out of the developmental screening.

Programs should also use this opportunity to complete the Emergent Multilingual Learners Language Profile Protocol (EMLLPP) to gain valuable information about Emergent Multilingual Learners (EMLLs), promote strong instructional and family engagement practices, and strengthen the language and literacy development of children in their home language and in English. Families are not required to complete the EMLLPP home language survey and may opt out if they choose to. Please be sure to share the benefits of participation and assure families that any information collected will be strictly confidential and will only be used by teaching teams to inform instruction in the classroom.

Communicating with Families and Caregivers

Screening Outcomes

All screening outcomes must be submitted to the DECE and communicated to families and caregivers. The method of communication is at the discretion of the site leader.

Birth to Five programs:

For the 2023-24 school year, screening results must be reported to the DECE through Payroll or Vendor Portal within 21 calendar days of screening. Teachers in district schools enter data using Payroll Portal under the DOE Applications tab, using UPK Survey. Teachers in community-based organizations (CBOs) enter data using the Vendor Portal. Please review this  Submitting Developmental Screening Results guide  for more information and step-by-step instructions.

Family Child Care Networks and Birth to Five Programs:

Families/caregivers and programs can use developmental screening scores to help determine potential referrals. Referral cutoffs are available in the ASQ-3's user manual and are differentiated by age. Methods of referral are at the discretion of the site leader.

If a child scores below the referral cutoff on the ASQ-3, families/caregivers and programs should work together to collect information, support the child, and determine next steps. If, after implementing a variety of strategies and/or supports, programs and/or families/caregivers still have concerns regarding a child’s progress and believe that they may need additional support, the family/caregiver can make a referral for special education services.

For children younger than three, to make a referral to Early Intervention, providers should complete the Early Intervention Program Referral Form (PDF) and fax it to a regional office in the family/caregiver’s home borough or call 311 and ask for Early Intervention. Upon referral to Early Intervention, all families/caregivers are assigned a Service Coordinator to help them navigate the program. If found eligible, Early Intervention will work with the family/caregiver to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which outlines the services they will receive.

For children aged three and four, to make a referral to the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), parents must submit a referral letter to the CPSE by fax, mail, email to the  CPSE Community Coordinator for the District, or in person requesting an evaluation for their child. For CPSE contact information, please refer to the  CPSE homepage. After completing evaluations, if a child is found eligible for preschool special education services, the CPSE will work with the family/caregiver to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that will outline programs and services based on the child’s needs.

Early Head Start and Head Start programs:

If warranted through screening and additional information and with direct guidance from a mental health or child development professional and parent’s consent, the program must promptly and appropriately address any needs identified through referral for formal evaluation.

If a child is determined to be eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the program must partner with parents and the local agency and deliver services.

If a child is determined to be ineligible for services under IDEA, the program must seek guidance to determine if the formal evaluation shows the child has a significant delay, and if so, partner with the family/caregiver to help access services and supports.

Please refer to the  Head Start Program Performance Standards for more information about Early Head Start and Head Start requirements.

Authentic Assessment

The purpose of authentic assessment is to learn, understand, and meet the needs of all children. Authentic assessment provides educators with a system to provide ongoing support of children’s developmental progress across all domains of learning to inform instruction throughout the program year.

Early childhood programs are required to use a developmentally appropriate, valid, and reliable authentic assessment system to monitor developmental progress, plan instruction, and inform family engagement. Authentic assessment supports teaching teams to gather information about children’s development during everyday activities through observation notes, photos, and work samples that capture a child’s developmental progress across all domains of learning. By utilizing authentic assessment, teaching staff deepen their shared understanding of children’s development and learning to inform instruction and family engagement. Please note that traditional standardized tests must never be administered to children. Children should only be assessed utilizing approved authentic assessment systems and approved developmental screenings.

Authentic assessment is an ongoing process that provides information about children’s growth and development over time. This data collection cycle continuously informs individual and group learning experiences.

Teaching teams are required to complete developmental summary reports three times during the school year. Please note the checkpoint dates for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year:

  • November 30, 2023
  • March 15, 2024
  • June 14, 2024
  • August 23, 2024 (optional, for 12-month programs only)

For the 2023-2024 school year, the DECE-approved authentic assessment systems include:

  • Teaching Strategies GOLD (TSG), available for use with infants, toddlers, 3-year-olds, and 4-year-olds
  • COR Advantage, available for use with children in infant, toddler, 3-year-old and 4-year-old classrooms
  • Ounce, available for use with infants and toddlers, along with Work Sampling System (WSS), available for use with children in 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds

Please note: By July 2024, all programs will be required to use Teaching Strategies GOLD, which will be the singular authentic assessment system citywide. DECE will continue to provide all programs with digital access, required materials, and professional learning for Teaching Strategies GOLD and no other assessment other systems.

Teaching Strategies GOLD has been selected to support teachers in observing children's skills and behavior, documenting and analyzing that data, and continually supporting children with informed, differentiated instruction across vital early learning domains. The platform allows educators to capture, organize, and store notes, photos, videos, and digital samples of children’s work.

Please note: TSG aligns with the  Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) and the  New York State Prekindergarten Learning Standards (NYSPLS).

Programs can refer families to Authentic Assessment: Measuring My Child’s Growth and Development for additional information on authentic assessments.






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