Developmental Screening and Authentic Assessment

Through Developmental 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, reflect and determine next steps to support individual growth. Please note, policies may vary for program type (EarlyLearn, 3-K for All, Pre-K for All, Family Child Care Networks, Early Head Start, and Head Start).

Developmental Screening

Developmental screening is a way to identify potential developmental and instructional needs. Used at the beginning of the school year, developmental screening tools evaluate developmental milestones and assist educators in learning about the various aspects of a child’s development, such as language, cognition, perception, and motor development.

Developmental screening tools approved for use:

For the 2020-21 school year, the below developmental screening tools are approved for use:

EarlyLearn, 3-K for All, and Pre-K for All programs must use one of the following screening tools :

  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Third Edition (ASQ-3)
  • Early Screening Inventory, Third Edition (ESI-3)
  • Early Screening Inventory, Revised (ESI-R), approved for use for the 2020-21 school year only, as this tool is being phased out by the publisher. Please note, programs may not use ESI-R and ESI-3 in combination.
  • Brigance Early Childhood Screens III

Family Child Care Networks must use one of the following screening tools:

  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Third Edition (ASQ-3)
  • Brigance Early Childhood Screens III

Early Head Start and Head Start programs must use one of the following screening tool options (please refer to the Head Start Program Performance Standards for more information about Head Start requirements):

  • Ages and Stages Questionnaire, Third Edition (ASQ-3) used alongside Ages and Stages Questionnaires - Social Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ:SE-2)
  • Early Screening Inventory, Third Edition (ESI-3) or Early Screening Inventory, Revised (ESI-R) used alongside Ages and Stages Questionnaires - Social Emotional, Second Edition (ASQ:SE-2) . Please note, programs may not use ESI-R and ESI-3 in combination.
  • Brigance Early Childhood Screens III

Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, the DOE will no longer provide materials for ESI-R. Instead, the DOE will provide materials free of charge for ASQ-3. This change will support schools to complete developmental screening in partnership with families and caregivers as part of a trauma-informed response to COVID-19. Schools can continue to order other approved screening tools not provided by the DOE (ESI-R, ESI-3 and Brigance) by visiting the publishers' websites.

NYCDOE Expectations

Developmental screening is a key part of a student's transition into an early childhood program. Programs are required to use a valid and reliable developmental screening tool to identify potential developmental delays and language support needs.

Key Requirements

  • For the 2020-21 school year, Family Child Care Networks, EarlyLearn, 3-K for All, and Pre-K for All teaching teams are required to administer a developmental screening to all children as soon as possible and by December 1, 2020, using DECE-approved developmental screening tools. Early Head Start and Head Start programs must complete developmental screening within 45 calendar days per the Head Start Program Performance Standards.
  • Please note: The ASQ-3 screening tool may be used in blended and remote learning settings. The ESI-R, ESI-3, and Brigance screening tools must be administered by teaching staff, in person, and may not be administered remotely to children at home. Additional guidance regarding developmental screening for children attending full-time remote learning is forthcoming.
  • Staff administering the developmental screenings should take into consideration the needs and backgrounds of the children that they are serving and ensure that screenings are implemented using culturally, linguistically and developmentally responsive materials.

Family Child Care Networks, EarlyLearn, 3-K for All and Pre-K for All programs:

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 that they need to be rescreened for any reason, programs are required to rescreen the child within 8-10 weeks of the original screening. If the screening is not available in a child's home language, programs may mark a language exception for the child in the Portal. Programs should work to provide the child with language support and instruction.

If a child is screened in 3-K for All, he or she is not required to be re-screened in Pre-K for All. Since screening is an opportunity to learn more about a child, it may be beneficial to rescreen the child in Pre-K for All, especially if the child has a new teacher. Please note that if a teacher chooses to screen children in Pre-K for All who have already been screened in 3-K for All, he or she is not required to submit re-screening results via Payroll or Vendor Portal.

Please note: the ESI-R and ESI-3 screening tools may not be utilized to screen children until they are three years old. Any child who is not yet three years old upon enrollment into 3-K for All must be screened between the date of their third birthday and February 14.

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 must use qualified bilingual staff, contractor, or consultant to assess language skills in English and the home language, and for domains other than language skills in the language that best captures development and skills. Staff conducting screenings must know and understand the home language and have sufficient skill to accurately administer the screening.

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. The program must also gather and use other information for use in evaluating the child’s development.

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

Staff Qualifications

Programs using ASQ-3:

Leaders are responsible for ensuring that staff implementing the ASQ-3 questionnaires meet the following minimum requirements:
  • Must complete self-paced training available through your Protraxx account (available beginning mid-September). If you do not have a Protraxx.com account, please register here. For instructions on how to engage in these learning opportunities with your Protraxx account, click here.
  • Must create a screening plan for inviting families and caregivers to complete the ASQ-3 questionnaires, considering the method of implementation that will work best for the program (for example, whether staff will complete questionnaires in partnership with families and caregivers through a phone or video call, or will mail home questionnaires for families and caregivers to complete and return). Family and caregiver input is critical and the screening plan must include invitations for caregivers to participate.

Programs using ESI-R, ESI-3, or Brigance:

Leaders are responsible for ensuring that staff administering the developmental screening meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Must have an understanding of basic principles of standardized tests, including:
    • Knowledge of methods to ensure objectivity in administration of the tool
    • Importance of following standard procedures for administration and scoring
  • Must be a leader, teacher, paraprofessional, or other staff member experienced in early childhood education, with an understanding of early childhood behavior and development.
  • Must complete training to include observation of an examiner administering the tool. Self-paced training for ESI-R is available at WeTeachNYC.org.
  • Must be fluent and proficient in the language(s) used to administer the developmental screening tool. Screenings must be administered in a child’s home language.
  • Must administer the screening in person. The ESI-R, ESI-3, and Brigance screening tools may not be administered remotely to children at home. Please note, additional guidance regarding developmental screening for children attending full-time remote learning is forthcoming.

Screening Materials

Beginning with the 2020-21 school year, the DECE will provide materials for the ASQ-3 only. Schools can continue to order other approved screening tools, not provided by the DOE by visiting the publishers’ websites.

To order ASQ-3 materials, click here

Training

Self-paced training for the ASQ-3 is available through your Protraxx account (available beginning mid-September). If you do not have a Protraxx.com account, please register here. For instructions on how to engage in these learning opportunities with your Protraxx account, click here. 

Self-paced training for the ESI-R is available via WeTeachNYC.org.

For additional information, email developmentalscreening@schools.nyc.gov.

Communicating with Families

At the start of the school year, NYCDOE funded early childhood programs are required to send the following Introduction to Developmental Screening letter to families and caregivers of enrolled children. 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 (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

Screening outcomes must be communicated to families and caregivers. The method of communication is at the discretion of the site leader.

EarlyLearn, 3-K for All and Pre-K for All programs:

Screening results must be reported to the DECE through Payroll or Vendor Portal. District school teachers can enter data using Payroll Portal under the DOE Applications tab, using UPK Survey. NYC Early Education Center teachers can enter data using the Vendor Portal. Please review this Submitting Developmental Screening Results guide for more information and step-by-step instructions.

Gifted and Talented Request for Testing

The DECE invites all families and caregivers to submit a Request for Testing regardless of screening outcomes.

Referrals

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

Family Child Care Networks, EarlyLearn, 3-K For All, and Pre-K for All Programs:

The DECE requires that if a child scores below the referral cutoff of a developmental screening tool, 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 he or she 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 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 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 not eligible 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 in early childhood is to understand and meet the needs of all children. Early childhood teaching teams should use their knowledge of children's understanding and development and partner with families and caregivers to make decisions about instruction in the blended learning context. Please look for more information regarding authentic assessment requirements in blended learning in upcoming communications.

For questions, please reach out to authenticassessment@schools.nyc.gov.

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