Developmental and Social–Emotional Screening of Young Children (0–6 years of age) in Minnesota
Minnesota Department of Human Services Minnesota Department of Education Minnesota Department of Health

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


How do I determine which instrument is best suited for the needs of the children I will be screening?

There are many factors that affect the selection of a developmental or social–emotional screening instrument. For this reason, the Minnesota Interagency Developmental Screening Task Force recommends several instruments so that professionals responsible for screening can select the instrument most appropriate for the needs of the children they will be screening.

If you are unsure which instrument to select, make a list of the factors that are important to your selection. For example: Are there limitations set by the program in which you are participating (i.e. Follow Along Program only allows ASQ-3 and ASQ:SE)? Which ages will you be screening? How much time do you have to perform the screening? What are the ethic and cultural considerations of the population you will be screening?

Once you have made your list, eliminate the instruments that would not be appropriate for your developmental or social–emotional screening screening program. You can then evaluate the remaining instruments based on your list of important factors. The comparison grid provided on this website can help you compare instruments. If you have further questions about a specific instrument, visit the publisher’s website and contact the sales representative to answer your questions prior to purchasing the instrument.

Which instruments can I use for children ages three – five years?


Parent Report


Which instruments can I use for infants and toddlers?


Parent Report


I specifically need an instrument for use on infants up to 6 months of age. Which can I use?


Parent Report


Which instruments are appropriate for use in a hospital or clinical setting?

The use of a developmental and social-emotional screening screening instrument as part of a clinical visit is strongly encouraged to correctly assess the developmental and social–emotional health of a child. Selection of an instrument will vary depending on your practice and the time you have allotted to this portion of the health exam. The following instruments have either been developed for a clinical setting or are promoted for use in health care settings; however, it is best to evaluate your needs and then select an instrument that best meets those needs.


Parent Report


Which instruments cover the social and emotional domain?

How do I know if the instrument I select meets the ethnic and cultural considerations of my population?

Knowledge of the ethnic background of the community in which you conduct a screening program is essential to selecting an appropriate developmental or social–emotional screening instrument. Minnesota communities vary greatly in their diversity, and it is important to acknowledge that an instrument that works well for one population may not work as well for another population. Many of the recommended instruments are available in two or more languages and the comparison grid lists the population on which the test was normed if that information was available. If you have specific questions or concerns regarding the ethnic, cultural, or linguistic sensitivity of a developmental or social-emotional screening instrument, please contact the publisher or sales representative for assistance.

Which domains should be included in developmental screening?

  • Fine and gross motor
  • Speech and language
  • Cognition
  • Social/emotional development
  • Self–help skills*

*This domain is NOT a required developmental screening component for the Early Childhood Screening Program conducted through the Minnesota Department of Education.

I currently use the Denver II (DDST–II) for screening children. What do I use now?

The Denver II (1989) is no longer a recommended developmental screening instrument for use in Minnesota public programs, such as Child and Teen Checkups, Follow Along, and Head Start.  Additionally, the Denver II is not approved for the Early Childhood Screening Program in Minnesota.  The Denver II failed to meet review criteria. Review criteria is available online at

There are several approved developmental screening instruments for you to choose from for your screening program. Please refer to All Instruments at a Glance to aid in your decision process. We encourage you to collaborate with other screening programs/providers (Early Childhood Screening, private providers, Head Start, Follow Along Program) in your community and learn which instruments they are using to help in your decision–making.  Community collaboration will assist in reducing duplicative screenings for children and eliminate gaps in the identification of children who need further evaluation or assessment of development or health concerns. For more information on community collaboration, view Minnesota Quality Indicators; A Comprehensive Framework to Build and Evaluate Community–Based Screening Systems. This is available electronically at

Is there a list of definitions of commonly used terms?

Developmental and Social–Emotional Screening – A brief, simple procedure used to identify potential health, developmental, or social–emotional problems in infants and young children who may need a health assessment, diagnostic assessment, or education evaluation.

Validity – Validity is an indicator of the accuracy of a test. Validity is expressed on a scale of 0 – 1.0, with 1.0 representing the strongest association and therefore the greatest accuracy. Test validity is important because it represents how well the screening test accomplishes its intended purpose. In the case of developmental screening, validity is determined by comparing, contrasting, or correlating screening test results with the results of a diagnostic assessment.

Concurrent Validity – This test compares screening results with outcomes derived from a diagnostic assessment performed shortly after the screening test (7–10 days). Validity is reported in terms of the agreement between the two tests.

Predictive validity – This test compares screening results with measures of children’s performance obtained 9–12 months later. Examples of these measures include diagnostic assessments, school achievement test scores, ratings by observers, or teacher reports.

Reliability – This is an indicator of how consistently or how often identical results can be obtained with the same screening instrument. A reliable instrument is one in which differences in test results are attributable less to chance and more to such systematic factors as lasting and general characteristics of the child. Reliability is expressed on a 0 – 1.0 scale, with 1.0 representing the greatest consistency.

Interobserver reliability – The reliability coefficient derived from the percentage of agreement between two different people scoring the same test performance.

Test–retest reliability – Describes the stability of the instrument over time, as well as the percentage of agreement in results when two different examiners screen the same child over time.

Sensitivity – The proportion of children at risk who are correctly identified by the test as needing further diagnostic assessment. Sensitivity is generally presented as a percentage, with 100% being highest value, but can also be presented in a 0 – 1.0 scale.

Specificity – The proportion of children not at risk who are correctly excluded from further diagnostic assessment. Specificity is generally presented as a percentage, with 100% being highest value, but can also be presented in a 0 – 1.0 scale.

Can I use earlier versions of a developmental screening instrument that is found on the recommended/approved list?

The Task Force reviewed the most recent versions of developmental and social–emotional screening instruments. We encourage the use of the most recent version of a developmental or social–emotional screening instrument, because that version is considered to be the most appropriate for the current population. Only instruments listed on this website are approved for use. A MDE–approved developmental screening instrument must be used by school districts to receive early childhood screening reimbursement.