Preschool Guidance & Materials

Preschool Developmental Screening

August 25, 2005

TO: Early Childhood Supervisors

FROM: Ellen Frede, Ph.D., Assistant to the Commissioner for Early Childhood

SUBJECT: Guidance on the use of Preschool Developmental Screenings

Locally driven, universal screening of young children is associated with better outcomes for all children and will help identify those most at risk for achievement and behavior problems (The National Research Council – 2002). Per NJ administrative code: 10A 2.3, it is required that all three- and four-year-old children in Abbott districts be administered an initial screening device at school entry to determine if a child needs a complete diagnostic assessment. A screening instrument is meant to be the first step in the assessment process – it does not provide enough information to identify children as needing special education services.

The Office of Early Childhood recommends using the Early Screening Inventory-Revised (ESI-R - Meisels et al., 1997). This screening is a brief assessment procedure designed to identify children who might be at risk for a possible learning problem or delay. The screening looks at children by quickly sampling their skills across areas of social, language, reasoning, gross and fine motor development. This screening identifies children in three categories: 1) normal range of development, 2) rescreen range 8 – 10 weeks after initial screening or 3) refer range - demonstrating the need for a referral for a diagnostic evaluation for special education. The screening is inexpensive, reliable, easy to administer by the child’s teacher, and it takes approximately 15 minutes at the beginning of the school year.

For more complete information on the ESI-R, including training materials, see the NJ Department of Education website – www.state.nj.us/education/-: (drop down list) - Office of Early Childhood Education. Please feel free to use the Office of Early Childhood Education website materials. If you have any further questions, please call your preschool district liaison (609) 777 2074.