About the Early Development Instrument

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a valid and reliable questionnaire completed by kindergarten teachers which measures children’s ability to meet age-appropriate development expectations in five domains. The EDI was developed by the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University and is used both across Canada and internationally.

The five EDI domains are:

  1. Physical Health and Wellbeing – Children are healthy, independent, and rested each day.
  2. Social Competence – Children play and get along with others, share, and show self-confidence.
  3. Emotional Maturity – Children can concentrate on tasks, help others, show patience and are not often aggressive or angry.
  4. Language and Cognitive Development – Children are interested in reading and writing, can count, and recognize numbers and shapes.
  5. Communication Skills and General Knowledge – Children can tell a story and communicate with adults and other children.

Overview of Cycle 5 (2018)

The Offord Centre prepared two reports for Waterloo Region in Cycle 5 (2018):

  1. EDI Summary Report: A snapshot of children’s developmental health for Senior Kindergarten Students in Waterloo Region and across Ontario for the 2017/2018 school year (Special Needs Report starts on page 13).
  2. 5 Cycles of the EDI: A look at 5 Cycles of EDI results in Waterloo Region and across Ontario.

 

Cycle 6 of the EDI is planned for Spring 2023.

Understanding and Using Results

Children who score below the 10th percentile cut-off of the Ontario baseline population are considered vulnerable in that domain. Higher vulnerability indicates that a greater percentage of children are struggling in that domain and in need of more supports. EDI data helps provide a clearer picture of the strengths and needs in our community, in order to have a positive impact in areas such as policy, programming, and community planning.

 

A method called critical difference is used to determine if changes in scores over time are statistically meaningful. When a change is meaningful, we can be confident that the change is real and not due to uncertainties like sampling or measurement issues.

 

On one or more domain, 31.7% of children scored low in Waterloo Region. This is a meaningful decrease by 1.1% from Cycle 4 and compared to 29.6% in Ontario. On two or more domains, 14.9% of children scored low in Waterloo Region. This is a decrease by 1.2% from Cycle 4 (meaningful difference calculation unavailable) and compared to 13.9% in Ontario. On communication skills and general knowledge, 11.5% of children scored low in Waterloo Region. This is a non-meaningful increase by 0.3% from Cycle 4 and compared to 10.0% in Ontario. On emotional maturity, 11.6% of children scored low in Waterloo Region. This is a meaningful decrease by 1.3% from Cycle 4 and compared to 11.3% in Ontario. On language and cognitive development, 7.3% of children scored low in Waterloo Region. This is a meaningful increase by 1.2% from Cycle 4 and compared to 7.5% in Ontario. On physical health and wellbeing, 18.0% of children scored low in Waterloo Region. This is a meaningful decrease by 1.9% from Cycle 4 and compared to 16.3% in Ontario. On social competence, 10.8% of children scored low in Waterloo Region. This is a meaningful decrease by 1.1% from Cycle 4 and compared to 9.9% in Ontario.

 

Supporting Community Investment – The Children and Youth Planning Table (CYPT) is invested in making meaning of this data and mobilizing the community to support action. Many stakeholders, including local government, school boards, non-profit organizations, and neighbourhood groups, use EDI data to support the development of community resources.

 

For example:

  • A school board may use EDI data to plan how to invest resources in schools
  • A non-profit organization may use EDI data in strategic planning for their future direction
  • A neighbourhood group may use EDI data in a grant application to fund a new community program
  • Children and Youth Planning Table may use EDI data to set priorities and plan collective work to support healthy child development

 

Evaluating Existing Community Investment – Researchers and evaluators use EDI data over time to help understand the impacts of existing community programs in supporting healthy child development.

 

 

Limitations – EDI data is one valid and reliable tool that shows a snapshot of early childhood development. It should be used with other information available, including both quantitative and qualitative data.

 

 

There are limitations to how EDI data can be interpreted:

  • Cannot be used to make causal associations with other data or indicators (e.g. x causes y)
  • Cannot be used at the individual level (e.g. as a diagnostic tool)
  • Does not fully capture children’s abilities as it is based on self-report data from teachers (Offord Centre provides a detailed guide and training on the delivery of the questionnaire to help reduce subjective bias)

 

Neighbourhood Portal – Review the Waterloo Region Neighbourhood Portal for a more detailed look at EDI results by neighbourhood or city/township and across the 5 cycles.

 

 

Questions – If you have any questions about the EDI reports or portal please email Fidelia Ukueje (Social Planning Associate, Children and Youth Planning Table) at fukueje@regionofwaterloo.ca.

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