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Early Development Instrument Project

Assessing early child development within a community.

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UPDATE: The EDI Project at Erikson has sunset and will no longer doing data collection (read full announcement). Communities that have participated in the project and are interested in continuing EDI data collection can contact the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities

You can download and read Erikson’s full announcement

smiling african american father and little son playing with colorful blocks together at home

Community Factors Influencing How Children are Prepared to Learn for Kindergarten

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) Project is a neighborhood-level population measure administered in kindergarten that gauges the development of young children within the context of their community.

Erikson has completed the pilot phase and this groundbreaking tool is now available for communities. This project, the first of its kind in Illinois, extends our commitment to improving the lives of young children by illuminating opportunities for community-driven policy recommendations.

What is the Early Development Instrument?

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An Early Childhood Research Tool

The Early Development Instrument is a validated and reliable research tool created in Canada that has been used internationally for more than two decades.

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A Child Development Survey

The survey, delivered by kindergarten teachers and typically administered every three years, measures ability of a child to meet age-appropriate developmental expectations.

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Aggregated and Reported Data

Results for individual children are never reported; data is aggregated and reported at the neighborhood level, providing a precise and holistic snapshot of a child’s development in the context of their community.

Early Development Instrument Project Overview (00: 57)
Early Development Instrument Project Overview Video

Watch and Listen to the EDI Project Overview

A community-based data tool to measure child development

Our objective is to work with communities to secure data on how their young children are doing. We help build data literacy so that communities can contextualize the data, bringing it to life through community history and storytelling, and, ultimately, translating it into actionable strategies.

The EDI compels communities to look at the supports and resources currently available to young children prior to entering school and assess how to better support early child development in preparation for kindergarten and beyond.

Measuring Components of Child Development

The Early Development Instrument provides a holistic snapshot on how young children within a community are developing in five key domains.


Physical Health and Well-being


Social Competence


Emotional Development and Maturity


Language Skills and Cognitive Development


Communication Skills and General Knowledge

Teachers and students in a classroom

How Schools Can Benefit from Early Childhood Data

Erikson provides coaching and technical assistance to use the accumulated data to better inform: strategic planning, proposal writing, and community visioning and planning.

Schools can use this data to identify and learn from strengths in the community. It can help initiate targeted conversations on how to set children up for success before they start kindergarten, and where there are opportunities to focus additional support. The EDI data can also inform planning for future kindergarten students and address the needs of the current cohort of kindergarten children as they progress through school.

Cornelia Grumman
Cornelia Grumman
McCormick Foundation Education Program Director
“ Our hope for this work is that the accessible, actionable information generated by the EDI will better highlight the specific needs of children in a particular Illinois community, and then galvanize all the child-serving entities in that community to work together to address those needs. ”

The EDI Program Promotes Community Support for Early Child Programs

  • Align and strengthen early childhood systems
  • Identify strengths and gaps in early childhood programs and services
  • Tailor supports for young children entering school
  • Complement existing student assessments
  • Shift problem-solving from individual to community solutions
  • Assess community impact of child development over time

How EDI Helps Community Leaders Affect Change for Children and Families

Educators and School Representatives

Results help identify the strengths and challenges of the children in their schools, leading to targeted interventions for those children. EDI data are used to predict academic outcomes up to fourth grade.

Parents and Community Leaders

The data instigates community conversations that inform advocacy action planning. EDI data also encourages equitable allocation of resources to address the needs of children and families.

Elected Officials and Policymakers

EDI data helps government plan equitable investments, inform policy, and evaluate program success over time. Maps built from the data can help focus investments and identify specific community needs.

EDI Implementation Across the Globe

16 +
Countries around the globe using the EDI
Valid EDI records collected in five Illinois communities
55 +
U.S. communities utilizing the EDI
$ 1560000
Grant support from the McCormick Foundation for the EDI Project
group of 3 students gathering around an ipad

How Erikson Supports Community Partners

Once we partner with a community, coalition, or school district, we provide support in many ways.

  • Training, coaching, technical assistance, and resources to implement the EDI tool
  • Funding for teacher stipends or substitute teachers to allow for administration of the EDI
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Capacity building around data literacy
  • Community action plan development/refinement based on EDI results
  • Advocacy coaching and support

Hear What Our EDI Partners Are Saying

portrait of Janice Moenster
Janice Moenster
Director Early Childhood Programs, Southern Region, Children’s Home + Aid
“ EDI heat maps help us to think about targeted and universal strategies that highlight strengths and uncover what is working well in a particular neighborhood that we could possibly replicate in other neighborhoods in the community. ”
portrait of Scott Goselin
Scott Goselin
Superintendent, Bradley School District 61
“ I have worked with the Erikson staff for the past year on a community project and their expertise and loyalty to their work is outstanding. I look forward to learning valuable information and resources that I can bring back to my school district and to my community. ”
Carol Kelley
Superintendent, Oak Park School District 97
“ For the first time we will have a complete picture of how our students are looking as they first walk into our schools. We will see how well we, as a community, have supported our children during their earliest years. ”
EDI Heidi Dettman-Rockford Public Schools District 205 
Heidi Dettman
Executive Director of Academics, Rockford Public Schools District 205
“ The [EDI] initiative provides data that we do not currently have. It is, for all intents and purposes, the missing link to help us more deeply engage community partnerships to wrap around supports for our students and families. ”
portrait of Megan Aseltine
Megan Aseltine
Assistant Superintendent of Academics, Skokie School District 69
“ We really think the EDI is going to be the missing piece for us. We have lots of services and dedicated people who want to do the work. Now we can actually target it based on the vulnerabilities and the strengths of our community. ”

Erikson’s EDI Project Details, Resources, and News

This initiative was generously funded by the

Robert R. McCormick foundation