Understanding the results

Understanding the results

About the AEDC

The AEDC is a national measure of children’s development as they enter their first year of full-time school. The data for the AEDC is collected every three years using the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument (EDI), adapted from Canada. Participation is voluntary with data collected through the cooperation of parents and the active involvement of the government, Catholic and independent school sectors across Australia. 

The AEDC measures five areas, or domains, of early childhood development that form the foundations for later good health, education and social outcomes. These domains are: 

  • physical health and wellbeing

  • social competence

  • emotional maturity

  • language and cognitive skills (school-based)

  • communication and general knowledge.

In 2009, Australia became the first country in the world to collect national data on the developmental health and wellbeing of all children as they start their first year of full-time school. The success of the collection laid the foundation for the Australian Government’s commitment to ongoing AEDC data collection cycles. In 2012, the AEDC undertook the second collection followed by the third collection in 2015. 

The AEDC highlights what is working well and what needs to be improved or developed to support children and their families, and helps communities know how their children are progressing. As a population-based measure, the AEDC is not designed to be an individual diagnostic tool. As such, results are reported publicly at a community level, acknowledging Australia’s diverse cultural context. 

The AEDC provides evidence to guide planning and service-provision to ensure children are supported through their early years, school years and beyond.

How the results are reported

AEDC results are presented as the number and percentage of children who are developmentally on track, developmentally at risk and developmentally vulnerable in each domain. 

About the result benchmarks

For each of the five AEDC domains, children receive a score between 0 and 10 where 0 is most developmentally vulnerable.

The cut off scores set in 2009 provide a reference point against which later AEDC results can be compared. These have remained the same across the three collection cycles.  For example, using the cut off scores established in 2009, in the 2015 AEDC only 6.5 per cent of children were considered developmentally vulnerable on the Language and Cognitive Development domain, a decrease from 8.9 per cent in 2009.

Developmentally on track

The cut-off for an AEDC score to represent developmentally on track uses the baseline cut-offs from the 2009 AEDC data collection. In 2009 children who scored above the 25th percentile (in the top 75 per cent) of the national population were classified as developmentally on track.

Developmentally at risk

The cut-off for an AEDC score to represent developmentally at risk uses the baseline cut-offs from the 2009 AEDC data collection. In 2009 children who scored between the 10th and the 25th percentile of the national population were classified as developmentally at risk.

Developmentally vulnerable

The cut-off for an AEDC score to represent developmentally vulnerable is based on the results from the 2009 AEDC data collection. In 2009 children who scored below the 10th percentile (in the lowest 10 per cent) of the national population were classified as developmentally vulnerable.

What are AEDC communities?

AEDC Communities are a geographic area, usually equivalent to a Local Government Area (LGA), made up of AEDC local communities.

Local communities are a small area locality, usually representing a suburb or town. For its results to be reported, local communities must have a minimum of 15 children and two teachers. Results are not reported if more than 20 per cent of children were identified as children with special needs.

Results are available on the AEDC website and consist of the following:

National Report

A Snapshot of Early Childhood Development in Australia – Australian Early Development Census National Report 2015 provides a unique overview of the development of children in Australia..

Community ​Profiles Tables and Maps

All AEDC data collected in a geographic area are collated and analysed at the suburb or small area locality (local community) of the child. This is reported back to the community through AEDC Community Profiles and AEDC maps available at Data Explorer.

The AEDC community profiles, tables and maps and report the percentage of children developmentally on track, at risk and vulnerable for each developmental domain.

Reported results 

Reported results refer to the information that is made publically available at a community level from the AEDC data collection. This includes: 

  • demographic data for all children included in the census  
  • AEDC domain scores – includes scores only from children with valid domain scores, and for those who don’t have any diagnosed special need.

How are community and national results best compared?

The AEDC is a relative measure; the results show how children in the local community are doing relative to, or compared with, other children included, both in their community and across Australia.
For information about comparing results over two time points, refer to the fact sheet Emerging trends of the AEDC and the Data Explorer tool.

Where can you get more information?

Using your AEDC results and other resources ​on the web site can help communities in better understanding and using the AEDC results. 

Version note

The text on this page is an accessible HTML and updated version of the AEDC resource Understanding the resultswhich is available in PDF format from the Resources ​page.

Document stock code: AEDC-1602-02-01