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 within 45 days of a child’s enrollment, 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:

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

The Division of Early Childhood Education (DECE) provides materials and training for ESI-R only. Please see below for more information.

Family Child Care Networks:

Early Head Start and Head Start programs:

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

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

  • Teaching teams are required to administer a developmental screening to all children within 45 calendar days of enrollment. Please see the Screening Timeline for more information about the timeline.
  • 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. 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.

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. 

ESI-R Examiner Qualifications

Early Screening Inventory - Revised (ESI-R)

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 (through WeTeachNYC.org or in-person training). 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 (including Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Spanish, Cantonese, and Russian if using ESI-R). Screenings must be administered in a child’s home language.

ESI-R Materials

The DECE provides materials for the ESI-R. You may reuse leftover ESI-R materials dating back to School Year 2008-09. Review the ESI-R Materials List, and please complete this Materials and Support Request Form if you need any materials.

Training

Self-paced training for the ESI-R is available via WeTeachNYC.org. For additional information or to request on-site support for ESI-R, ASQ-3, or Brigance, 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 of enrolled children. In response to this letter, families may opt out of the developmental screening:

Communicating with Families

Screening Outcomes

Screening outcomes must be communicated to families. 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 to submit a Request for Testing regardless of screening outcomes.

Referrals

Referral cutoffs are available in the ESI-R 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 a developmental screening tool, families 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 still have concerns regarding a child's progress and believe that he or she may need additional support, the parent can make a referral for special education services. Referrals can be made to Early Intervention for children under three and the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) for children who are three and four. 

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 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 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.

Additional Resources

This webpage is for early childhood educators and administrators; it contains copyright-protected material that is critical for educators and administrators to have to implement ESI-R. It is a violation of copyright to share this information beyond your school.

Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment allows teaching teams to gather information about children’s development during everyday classroom activities. Authentic assessment data includes observation notes, photos, and work samples collected throughout the year that capture a student’s developmental progress across all domains of learning, as outlined in the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) and the NYS Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core (PKFCC). Teaching teams analyze this data in order to inform instructional practice and engage in two-way conversations with families.

DECE Approved Authentic Assessment Systems

Please note all approved online authentic assessment systems align to the PKFCC and can be used with any developmentally appropriate curriculum. Teaching staff should use an approved authentic assessment system to actively solicit students' understanding and ideas of their own learning to be incorporated into instructional practices.

Early Head Start, Head Start, EarlyLearn, 3-K for All, and Pre-K for All programs:

  • Ounce available for use with children in infant and toddler classrooms.
  • Work Sampling System (WSS) available for use with children in 3-year-old and 4-year-old classrooms. Please note that 3-K for All programs should use the WSS Preschool-3 Developmental Guidelines, and Pre-K for All programs should use the WSS Preschool-4 Developmental Guidelines. For more information, please see WeTeachNYC.
  • Teaching Strategies GOLD (TSG) available for use with children in infant, toddler, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old classrooms. For more information, please see WeTeachNYC.
  • High Scope Child Observation Record Advantage (COR) available for use with children in infant, toddler, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old classrooms. For more information, please see WeTeachNYC.

Family Child Care Networks:

  • Teaching Strategies GOLD, available for use with children in infant, toddler, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old classrooms. For more information, please see WeTeachNYC.
  • High Scope Child Observation Record Advantage is available for use with children in infant, toddler, 3-year-old, and 4-year-old classrooms. For more information, please see WeTeachNYC.

Assessment Requirements

Authentic assessment data consists of low-inference notes and high-quality work samples. Data must be collected throughout the school year in the form of Developmental Summary Reports at least three times per school year during the Fall, Winter, and Spring Citywide Checkpoints. Please note the checkpoint due dates for the 2019-2020 school year:

- November 22, 2019 (Fall)
- February 28, 2020 (Winter)
- May 29, 2020 (Spring)

Authentic assessment data must be used to develop:

  • Portfolios
    • Teaching staff:
      • Collect low-inference notes and high-quality work samples regularly throughout the school year
      • Align child portfolio items to authentic assessment system domains and indicators
    • Portfolio items are entered online and hard copies can be stored within the classroom
  • Developmental Summary Reports
    • Teaching staff:
      • Complete Developmental Summary Reports by using portfolio items to assess each child's progress along a developmental continuum, across the domains of learning
      • Complete Developmental Summary Reports three times per school year during the Fall, Winter, and Spring Citywide Checkpoints
      • Use the data to individualize practice and set goals that address the needs of each child
    • Developmental Summary Reports are stored online and in the child's cumulative folder

The DECE recommends that site leaders meet regularly with teaching staff to:

  • Review child portfolio items and developmental progressions
  • Use developmental progressions to inform ongoing instruction and support

Additionally, teaching staff should communicate developmental progressions to families regularly and during Family-Teacher conferences using family-facing reports.

Student Record Transfer Process

In an effort to support smooth transitions from Pre-K for All program settings into elementary school, the NYCDOE requires that Pre-K for All teachers print the authentic assessment developmental summary reports and include them in each child's cumulative folder as part of the student record transfer process into Kindergarten. This assessment is outlined in the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Regulations, Section 151-1 and helps provide Kindergarten teachers with a more complete understanding of incoming children’s strengths and the supports that they may need.

For questions or to request on-site support, email authenticassessment@schools.nyc.gov.

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