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Using AEPS-3 to determine eligibility for services

The AEPS®-3 Test is a curriculum-based assessment that provides a comprehensive, detailed picture of children’s development. While it wasn’t specifically designed to determine a child’s eligibility for services, it can be used as a valid source for helping you determine eligibility.

Many states require use of a standardized, norm-referenced assessment that produces standard deviations or percent delay to determine whether a child is eligible for services. This practice faces increasing criticism, since it runs counter to recommended practice1. One alternative is to use curriculum-based assessments, like AEPS-3.

Through extensive research, the AEPS-3 developers have established empirically validated cutoff scores that can be used for determining eligibility2. Automated eligibility reports can be easily run for children in the AEPSi system, and cutoff scores are included in the print materials. (Note that these cutoff scores do not correspond to age equivalents or percent delay.)


Updated AEPS-3 cutoff scores available

Since publication of AEPS-3, subsequent rounds of field test data expanded the sample size at targeted age intervals and resulted in adjusted cutoff scores in seven developmental areas in 2022. These cutoff scores were generally higher than previously published cutoff scores across most areas of AEPS-3. Additional analysis with early childhood experts was undertaken on the cutoff scores in the Social-Communication area and scores were adjusted further in 2023.

Access updated cutoff scores


3 reasons to use AEPS-3 to determine eligibility

  1. AEPS-3 Test results expand both the depth and breadth of developmental information on children.
  2. AEPS-3 Test data leads to the development of high-quality IFSP outcomes and IEP goals.
  3. Using the AEPS-3 Test saves time and money because a single assessment can provide valid information for eligibility, plus information for planning intervention and meeting accountability mandates.

1Neisworth, J.T., & Bagnato, S.J. (2004). The mismeasure of young children: The authentic assessment alternative. Infants and Young Children, 17(3), 198–212.

1Bagnato, S., Neisworth, J., & Pretti-Frontczak, K. (2010). Linking authentic assessment and early childhood intervention: Best measures for best practices (2nd ed.). Brookes Publishing Co.

1Macy, M.G., Bagnato, S.J., Macy, R.S., & Salaway, J. (2015). Conventional tests and testing for early intervention eligibility: Is there an evidence base? Infants & Young Children, 28(2), 182–204 de Sam Lazaro, S. (2017). The importance of authentic assessments in eligibility determination for infant and toddlers. Journal of Early Intervention, 39(2), 88–105.

2Toland, M., Grisham, J. Waddell, M. Crawford, R., & Dueber, D. (2021). Scale evaluation and eligibility determination of a field-test version of the Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System, Third Edition. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 42(2), 150–16.