School Readiness in El Paso, TX – The Early Development Instrument

Thanks to the support of local teachers from El Paso and Socorro Independent School Districts,El Paso recently completed the first phase of a community school readiness assessment using the Early Development Instrument (EDI). This cutting edge project includes many partners including United Way Worldwide, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the Children’s Learning Institute, the Texas Early Learning Council, and the Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities at UCLA

The multi-year project is designed to be a catalyst for bringing together individuals, organizations and community leaders working to improve school readiness and create better environments for El Paso children.

What is the Early Development Instrument?

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is a population measure of school readiness, which means that it collects information from all children entering kindergarten in specific geographic areas and then creates an overall snapshot of their developmental progress. The EDI does not label or identify individual children with specific problems. Instead, it looks at how experiences at home and in the community can help prepare children for the school environment.

The EDI provides local leaders with the information they need to evaluate school readiness, plan how to improve programs and supports and better coordinate services to help children develop and learn before and during their school years.

The EDI provides information about children in five developmental areas that are known to affect well-being and school performance:

  1.  Physical health and well-being
  2. Social competence
  3. Emotional maturity
  4. Language and cognitive skills
  5. Communication skills and general knowledge

As we begin to sift through the data we will continuously share the information gleaned from our further analysis.

What is School Readiness?

Readiness for school refers to, “the child’s ability to meet the task demands of school such as comfort in exploring and asking questions, playing and working with other children, listening to the teacher, and benefiting from educational activities that are provided by the school” (Offord Centre for Child Studies). Children are considered “ready for school” when they have developed certain skills and behaviors, such as being able to understand and follow instructions, to communicate and get along well with others, and having basic literacy skills.

Children’s readiness for school is assessed based on the skills and abilities children have learned from birth until they reach kindergarten. Readiness for school is based on years of cumulative early childhood development, beginning at birth.

Understanding EDI Results…

EDI results are reported as the percentage of children who are “developmentally vulnerable” and “very ready” in each of the five areas. Children who score at or below the 10th percentile of the national EDI population in each area are considered developmentally vulnerable, and those who score at or above the 75th percentile in each area are considered very ready.

We will soon have completed a full analysis of the results and will release a community profile which will reflect data collection by participating kindergarten teachers during the 2011-2012 school year.

The chart below shows that EDI data were reported for 2,110 children in El Paso during the 2011-12 school year. It also provides some additional background information about the children surveyed.

School Information


School districts contributing to the community results


Schools contributing to the community results


Classrooms collecting EDI information


Community Information



Children who are English Language Learners (ELL)


Children who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for children with disabilities


African-American, Black


Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander


Hispanic, Latino/a






How EDI results will be used?

The community profile will contain a wealth of information related to the vulnerabilities that young children face that act as barriers to school readiness. The data will be presented in charts and graphs and will be divided up by the individual developmental domains. Another exciting element is a series of maps displaying the geolocation of the vulnerabilities present.

The maps will allow us to:

  • Compare the strengths and weaknesses in children’s development and school readiness
  • across communities and EDI domains;
  • Understand the relationship between children’s EDI results and other important factors that may influence their health and well-being (e.g. poverty rates, resident mobility, and the availability of community assets like preschools, family support providers, libraries, and health providers)
  • Motivate action and advocacy efforts to help children reach their potential
  • Plan interventions and resource investments
  • Track progress over time to see how changes in investments, policies, or other factors influence children’s health and well-being.

What’s Next?

In the coming weeks, we will continue to work with many community partners to roll the EDI data out to the community. As we do, realize that this is not our data. The information that we present belongs to all of us. We encourage and invite you to utilize the data as needed.

An interactive website is in the works and will be the permanent home for all EDI and school readiness data about El Paso, Texas.

Click here to learn more about the Early Development Instrument.

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