What is the purpose of the ELOM?
The ELOM is a scientifically designed, rigorously standardised, culturally fair and age-normed tool that is used to establish whether early learning programmes of any kind are effective in enabling children to reach early learning development standards expected at the end of the year prior to Grade R.
Who will use the ELOM?
A range of stakeholders including early learning programme staff, donors, and public sector officials will be able to use the ELOM. Users will be able to establish the extent to which programmes of any kind enable children to reach early learning development standards expected prior to Grade R. Where children are not achieving the standards, this information can be used to inform programme improvement. The ELOM can also be used to establish the numbers of children in the population who meet the standards.
How many schools, children, provinces and languages were assessed during the ELOM age validation? Was the ELOM validated on an appropriate sample?
1331 randomly selected children from 173 schools in three provinces were assessed in the psychometric analysis of the ELOM. The ELOM has been validated on a sample that is very likely to be representative of the range of socio-economic backgrounds of South African children and for children speaking five of the main languages (isiXhosa, isiZulu, Afrikaans, Setswana, English).
How was a decision taken about which developmental domains to include?
The domains that were chosen are Gross Motor Development, Fine Motor Coordination and Visual Motor Integration; Emergent Numeracy and Mathematics; Cognition and Executive Functioning; and Emergent Literacy and Language. These underpin the South African early learning curriculum. They are easy to measure, and were recommended by stakeholders to be most important for coping in Grade R. Research has shown that they predict later school success.
Was the ELOM checked for cultural and socio-economic fairness?
Yes. Internationally accepted psychometric practice was followed. Analyses showed that the ELOM did not discriminate between children from different socio-economic or language backgrounds.
How were the ELOM standards set?
The team followed accepted practice in setting standards. This requires the use of empirical data and the judgments of qualified people. The ELOM team used data from the standardisation sample to explore how children from the five economic quintiles performed. The task was to set standards for each domain and for the ELOM Total that were neither too high nor too low. They had to be aspirational but realistic. The preliminary standard was set at the score achieved by the top 40% of the children in the age validation sample (the 60th percentile). Children from all quintiles were represented in that band (fewer in quintile 1 and more in quintiles 4 and 5). A consultation with expert stakeholders in the ECD sector (both in government and civil society) resulted in the finalisation of this standard. It will be re-examined and changed if necessary as experience with the ELOM is accumulated.
Can the ELOM be used for school readiness assessments or to diagnose whether a child has developmental delay?

The ELOM is not:

  1. a tool for assessing the school readiness of individual children.
  2. a psychological test, although it draws on a number of items used in tests of child development.
  3. designed to assess intelligence or diagnose developmental delay. However, as the ELOM covers a range of developmental domains, it could be used to identify children who are significantly behind the standard expected for their age. They could then be referred for specialist assessment.
What is difference between the NELDS and the ELOM?
The NELDS are South Africa’s early learning and development standards for children zero to four years. The indicators provided are for ages 0 – 18 months, 18 months to three years, and three to four years. No standardised measurement activities are provided with the NELDS. The ELOM is aligned to the NELDS and the National Curriculum Framework, and provides tools for standardised measurement of children’s performance.
Who will administer the test?
The ELOM can be administered by an experienced preschool practitioner, who has been trained and accredited by the Innovation Edge, and who speaks the home language of the child to be assessed.  The ELOM may also be used by registered clinical and educational psychologists or occupational therapists.
How important is the Total ELOM score?
Children’s performance on the five domains is more important than their total score, as these give programme managers a clear indication of how their programmes are performing, and where attention is needed to bring the children up to standard.