Preschool Developmental Screening
May 4, 2016
TO: Early Childhood Supervisors
FROM: Ellen Wolock, Director, Division of Early Childhood Education
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. 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 tool should be administered approximately 3-6 weeks into the program year.
The Division of Early Childhood Education recommends using the Early Screening Inventory-Revised (ESI-R - Meisels et al., 2008). 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.
For more complete information on the ESI-R, including training materials, see the NJ Department of Education website – http://www.state.nj.us/education/ece/psguide/screeningtoc.htm – Division of Early Childhood Education. Please feel free to use the Division of Early Childhood Education website materials. If you have any further questions, please call your preschool district liaison at (609) 777-2074.