The Early Development Instrument (EDI)
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The Early Development Instrument (EDI)

Early Development Instrument

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a checklist completed by Senior Kindergarten teachers that measures a child’s developmental health as they enter Grade 1. The EDI tool is not used as a diagnostic tool for individual children, nor does it measure a school’s performance. Rather, the data is mapped by postal codes to provide information about groups of children within neighbourhoods and communities.

The Offord Centre for Child Studies (McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario) designed the EDI so that teachers could observe and "rate" competencies and behaviours of children within 5 domains of child development:

    • Physical Health and Well-Being
    • Social Knowledge and Competence
    • Emotional Health and Maturity
    • Language and Cognitive Development
    • Communication Skills and General Knowledge

These domains are further classified into sub-domains.

Multiple Challenge Index (MCI):  If a child scores below expectations on 9 or more of these sub-domains, he/she is considered to have multiple challenges.

Information is then reported at the macro-level (national, provincial, or county level), or at the micro-level by community or neighbourhood. Neighbourhood analysis and mapping shows the differences in vulnerability in populations of children and helps communities determine what kinds of supports or programs should be offered to improve developmental health.

There is a strong relationship between poverty and literacy, and the EDI has been identified by the Ontario Government as an important tool to monitor early years outcomes as part of their Poverty Reduction Strategy (goal: to reduce children living in poverty by 25 percent in 5 years). Therefore, the EDI is being implemented provincially every 3 years with 2004/2005 results providing the baseline for ongoing comparisons. As results improve compared to the baseline, the expectation is that children will be more successful in school and more successful later in life.

Since its launch in 2000, EDI has become recognized as a valuable and credible tool nationally and internationally. It has been implemented in every province in Canada but not yet in every community in some provinces. Some other countries that are currently using or piloting the tool include Australia, Chile, Egypt, England, Holland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kosovo, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, New Zealand and the United States.

EDI Scores and Vulnerability

EDI Scores

On track versus not on track percentages

The EDI outcomes for each of the 5 developmental areas or "domains" are divided into categories representing the highest scores to the lowest scores in the community (distribution of scores).  The range of scores is then divided into four groups, each consisting of scores of a quarter or one fourth or 25 percent of the children in the site. These groups are called percentiles:

On track (Top)

  • The total group of children who score in the best 25th percentile of the site's distribution.

On track (Middle)

  • The total group of children who score between the 75th and 25th percentiles of the site's distribution.

Not on track (At risk)

  • The total group of children who score between the lowest 10th and 25th percentile of the site's distribution.

Not on track (Vulnerable)

  • The total group of children who score below the lowest 10th percentile of the site's distribution.

For additional definitions and explanations, please view the EDI Factsheet and the FAQs and Glossary.

EDI - Influencing change in communities

EDI results allow communities and governments to:

  • Identify neighbourhoods where there are strengths and vulnerabilities
  • Monitor populations over time
  • Predict how children will do in elementary school

The results obtained from the EDI can help local community planning groups and service providers make evidence-based decisions on programming for the early years.

At a school board or municipal level, EDI results have been studied for informed policy decisions.

Professional development opportunities for educators of young children have focused on EDI results for their communities to target programs according to need in certain areas of child development.

EDI to Action Survey

Developed by the EDI Team at the Offord Centre for Child Studies with the help of the members of the Pan-Canadian EDI Network in the fall of 2011, a survey entitled “EDI – From Results to Action” was sent to all provincial EDI contacts across Canada who were involved in the implementation and use of the EDI. The main goal of the survey was to determine whether information obtained from the EDI influences change in communities geared towards helping young children. A summary and highlights from this report can be read here:

EDI to Action Survey:  Highlights of the results

The full report including how communities have used the EDI can be found at

Link to EQAO Results

A research study, Starting Early: Teaching, Learning and Assessment released in June 2013 has linked EDI results with Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) scores in Grade 3. It was found that students with low EDI scores - those in the vulnerable or at-risk groups are much less likely to achieve the provincial standard on the Grade 3 EQAO reading, writing and mathematics assessment than those with high EDI scores - those students deemed to be ready or very ready in kindergarten.
For more information about EQAO visit

For detailed inquiries, please contact the Windsor-Essex Data Analysis Coordinator:

Noel Mailloux
400 City Hall Square East, Suite 301, P.O. Box 426
Windsor, Ontario Canada N9A 6L7

Phone: (519) 255-5200, ext. 5136


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