EDI in Ontario

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) measures children’s ability to meet age-appropriate developmental expectations at school entry. It focuses on the overall outcomes for children as a health-relevant, measureable concept that has long-term consequences for individuals and populations. The data from its collection helps monitor the developmental health of our young learners.

The EDI has a long history in the province of Ontario. Between 2003/2004 and 2011/2012 the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) sponsored three full provincial collections of the EDI, completed over three-year cycles. Most publicly funded school boards participated in each full provincial collection. Some school boards completed their EDI collection across all three years of a cycle, whereas others completed the entire school board in a single year.

The first province-wide implementation of the EDI was completed between 2004-2006. These data constitute the Ontario Baseline or Cycle I, and are used to determine the 10th percentile cut-offs for subsequent reporting for all cycles.

The Ministry of Education sponsored the EDI collection in 2014/2015. In contrast to previous cycles, the fourth full provincial collection took place entirely in a single year. A full report on the Cycle IV collection is available online in English and French.

Why look at EDI data over time?

The information collected through the EDI helps us to understand the state of children’s developmental health by connecting the conditions of early childhood experiences to learning outcomes and future successes.

Examining how children are doing over time is important for mobilizing stakeholders towards change. Focusing on strengthening the areas in which children are vulnerable allows schools, communities, and governments to make decisions on how to best support early development. Investigating how children’s developmental health is changing over time can also allow for evaluation and strategic planning around what is currently being done to support children and their families.

This report provides trends across all four provincial collections of the EDI in Ontario. A one-page summary is available online. You can also download the full report as a PDF in either English or French.

Long-Term Trends
  • Vulnerability is trending lower in two domains
    • Language & Cognitive Development (6.7% in Cycle IV vs. 9.6% in Cycle I)
    • Communication Skills & General Knowledge (10.2% in Cycle IV vs. 12.1% in Cycle I)
  • Vulnerability is trending higher in three domains
    • Physical Health and Well-Being (16.1% in Cycle IV vs. 12.9% in Cycle I)
    • Social Competence (10.7% in Cycle IV vs. 9.3% in Cycle I)
    • Emotional Maturity (12.3% in Cycle IV vs. 10.3% in Cycle I)

Number of Children in Analysis

Note: Numbers may not exactly match previously released reports as the EDI now requires children to have been in class for more than one month to be included in any analyses. This change was made as part of improving EDI methodology and creating consistency across provinces.

Children without Special Needs

Cycle I Count (%)Cycle II Count (%)Cycle III Count (%)Cycle IV Count (%)
Total Completed EDIs124,866120,302129,071135,937
Excluded from Analysis*11,543 (9.2%)9,386 (7.8%)9,577 (7.4%)10,079 (7.4%)
Total Number of Children without Special Needs Included in Reports113,323 (90.8%)110,916 (92.2%)119,494 (92.6%)125,858 (92.6%)
*Children are excluded if they are not in senior kindergarten, have been identified as having special needs as reported by the teacher, have not been in class for more than one month, or do not have a minimum number of items completed on the EDI questionnaire.

Children with Special Needs

Under the definition of special needs is a broad range of disorders affecting behaviour, communication, as well as physical or intellectual development. Children with special needs often contend with multiple problems, which require tailor-made, flexible support. These children may also have above average abilities in certain areas, adding to the complexity of providing appropriate support to help them reach their optimal development.

Cycle I Count (%)Cycle II Count (%)Cycle III Count (%)Cycle IV Count (%)
Total Number of Children with Special Needs4,422 (3.5%)4,408 (3.7%)5,017 (3.9%)5,686 (4.2%)
Total Number of Children with Special Needs Included in Reports*4,140 (3.3%)4,195 (3.5%)4,821 (3.7%)5,449 (4.0%)
*Children with Special Needs meeting all other inclusion criteria (are in senior kindergarten, have been in class for more than one month, and have a minimum number of items completed on the EDI questionnaire) are reported on separately from children without Special Needs.

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It is important to understand the demographic information of the population as these factors may influence EDI scores.


The following information includes children that are in senior kindergarten, have not been identified by teachers as having special needs, have been in class for more than one month, and have a minimum number of items completed on the EDI questionnaire.

Cycle I Count (%)Cycle II Count (%)Cycle III Count (%)Cycle IV Count (%)
Girls56,038 (49.4%)54,856 (49.5%)59,155 (49.5%)62,328 (49.5%)
Boys57,056 (50.3%)56,018 (50.5%)60,335 (50.5%)63,530 (50.5%)
Children Considered ELL or FSL13,024 (11.5%)13,333 (12.0%)14,390 (12.0%)14,397 (11.4%)
Cycle I MeanCycle II MeanCycle III MeanCycle IV Mean
Average Age (In Years)
Average Days Absent4.

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Domain Scores

The EDI measures children’s ability to meet age-appropriate developmental expectations in five general domains.


Icons_EDI Phys

Physical Health and Well-Being

assesses children’s physical readiness for the school day, physical independence, and gross and fine motor skills.

Icons_EDI Soc

Social Competence

assesses children’s willingness to explore new things, their approaches to learning, the amount of respect and responsibility they show, and their overall social competence.

Icons_EDI Emo

Emotional Maturity

assesses children’s prosocial and helping behaviour, their aggressive behaviour, their ability to balance between too fearful and too impulsive, and their amount of hyperactivity and inattention.

Icons_EDI LanCog

Language & Cognitive Development

assesses children’s basic and advanced literacy skills, basic numeracy skills, interest in math and reading, and memory.

Icons_EDI Comm

Communication Skills & General Knowledge

assesses children’s ability to communicate in socially appropriate ways, use language and story-telling, and age-appropriate knowledge of life and the world around them.

Please visit the Domains and Subdomains section of our website to learn more about the aspects of development included in each domain.

DomainCycle I Mean (SD)Cycle II Mean (SD)Cycle III Mean (SD)Cycle IV Mean (SD)
Physical Health & Well-Being8.91 (1.27)8.86 (1.28)8.86 (1.29)8.81 (1.33)
Social Competence8.34 (1.79)8.35 (1.78)8.39 (1.78)8.29 (1.87)
Emotional Maturity8.09 (1.48)8.08 (1.49)8.11 (1.49)8.00 (1.59)
Language & Cognitive Development8.58 (1.73)8.65 (1.71)8.78 (1.63)8.88 (1.56)
Communication Skills & General Knowledge7.81 (2.52)7.72 (2.52)7.80 (2.49)7.95 (2.43)

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A cut-off is a point of the Ontario Baseline distribution of scores. It is used to characterize children as either vulnerable, at risk, or on track. The 10th percentile cut-off is the score below which children are considered vulnerable. The 25th percentile cut-off is the score below which children are considered to be at risk. The 25th percentile cut-off is the score above which children are considered to be on track.

Domain10th Percentile Cut-Off25th Percentile Cut-Off
Physical Health & Well-Being7.30778.0769
Social Competence5.57697.3077
Emotional Maturity6.00007.3214
Language & Cognitive Development6.15388.0769
Communication Skills & General Knowledge4.37505.6250

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Distribution of EDI Scores

Please note: Distributions may not equal 100% due to missing values in a domain.

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Vulnerable describes the children who score below the 10th percentile cut-off of the Ontario Baseline population. Vulnerability data indicates a percentage of children who are struggling in comparison to the Ontario Baseline data.


Research linking EDI findings to later educational data demonstrate that, on average, kindergarten vulnerability predicts ongoing vulnerability in the school system. Numerous studies have shown that early vulnerability predicts a child’s lifelong health, learning, and behaviour.

DomainCycle I %Cycle II %Cycle III %Cycle IV %
Physical Health & Well-Being12.914.014.216.1
Social Competence9.
Emotional Maturity10.310.410.112.3
Language & Cognitive Development9.
Communication Skills & General Knowledge12.112.311.510.2

DomainCycle I %Cycle II %Cycle III %Cycle IV %
Vulnerable on ONE or more domains28.028.527.629.4
Vulnerable on TWO or more domains13.914.013.414.4

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Exploring subdomains can help determine the areas of development influencing vulnerabilities and strengths in each domain. For example, subdomains in which a large percentage of children are doing poorly can be used to inform the action needed to address children’s weaknesses.

Some subdomains represent skills that a child in kindergarten is expected to have mastered already (e.g., physical independence). Other subdomains represent areas of development that are still emerging (e.g., prosocial behaviour).

Please visit the Domains and Subdomains section of our website to learn more about the aspects of development included in each subdomain.

Please note: Subdomain groups may not equal 100% due to missing values.
Physical Health and Well-Being
SubdomainMeeting ExpectationsCycle I %Cycle II %Cycle III %Cycle IV %
Physical readiness for the school day Few/None3.
Physical readiness for the school day SomeNANANANA
Physical readiness for the school day All/Almost All96.696.596.195.1
Physical independence Few/None8.89.08.410.1
Physical independence SomeNANANANA
Physical independence All/Almost All90.890.791.489.9
Gross and fine motor skills Few/None21.623.422.520.5
Gross and fine motor skills Some20.220.219.318.5
Gross and fine motor skills All/Almost All58.

Social Competence
SubdomainMeeting ExpectationsCycle I %Cycle II %Cycle III %Cycle IV %
Overall social competenceFew/None8.
Overall social competenceSome41.242.542.042.4
Overall social competenceAll/Almost All50.248.849.447.9
Responsibility and respectFew/None4.
Responsibility and respectSome16.416.315.918.1
Responsibility and respectAll/Almost All78.979.279.475.9
Approaches to learningFew/None8.
Approaches to learningSome29.328.627.126.8
Approaches to learningAll/Almost All62.463.365.065.1
Readiness to explore new thingsFew/None3.
Readiness to explore new thingsSome19.919.718.320.1
Readiness to explore new thingsAll/Almost All76.676.878.676.6

Emotional Maturity
SubdomainMeeting ExpectationsCycle I %Cycle II %Cycle III %Cycle IV %
Prosocial and helping behaviourFew/None28.931.030.432.2
Prosocial and helping behaviourSome30.931.031.230.7
Prosocial and helping behaviourAll/Almost All33.333.534.635.5
Anxious and fearful behaviourFew/None2.
Anxious and fearful behaviourSome9.
Anxious and fearful behaviourAll/Almost All87.988.088.587.2
Aggressive behaviourFew/None7.57.37.510.2
Aggressive behaviourSome7.
Aggressive behaviourAll/Almost All84.684.984.980.9
Hyperactivity and inattentionFew/None12.412.211.613.0
Hyperactivity and inattentionSome14.313.612.712.5
Hyperactivity and inattentionAll/Almost All73.074.075.674.3

Language & Cognitive Development
SubdomainMeeting ExpectationsCycle I %Cycle II %Cycle III %Cycle IV %
Basic literacyFew/None9.
Basic literacySome17.016.515.214.2
Basic literacyAll/Almost All73.675.177.879.6
Interest in literacy/numeracy and memoryFew/None14.614.112.413.2
Interest in literacy/numeracy and memorySome10.210.510.39.6
Interest in literacy/numeracy and memoryAll/Almost All73.874.276.176.7
Advanced literacyFew/None15.615.213.211.0
Advanced literacySome9.
Advanced literacyAll/Almost All72.874.977.781.5
Basic numeracyFew/None10.
Basic numeracySome6.
Basic numeracyAll/Almost All82.082.884.586.0

Communication Skills & General Knowledge
SubdomainMeeting ExpectationsCycle I %Cycle II %Cycle III %Cycle IV %
Communication skills and General knowledgeFew/None27.428.827.925.9
Communication skills and General knowledgeSome23.824.423.922.9
Communication skills and General knowledgeAll/Almost All48.746.748.051.1

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Multiple Challenge Index

A child with scores below expectations on nine or more of the 16 subdomains is considered to have multiple challenges.

Cycle ICycle IICycle IIICycle IV
% with Multiple Challenges3.

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Additional resources


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