I have used several types of progress reports over the last 10 years. Ages and Stages has been one that I have held with high regard time and time again. It is simple, based on research, and cost effective.
If you are unfamiliar with this screening tool, the ASQ surveys six areas of development (cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, self help, language, and social/emotional) and the ASQ-SE specifically targets social emotional development. There is a questionnaire for varied ages from 2 months - 66 months. Each month's questionnaire asks parents and/or caregivers to rate a skill on a three point scale: "yes" they can do it, "sometimes" they can do it, "no" they cannot do it. It takes about 10 minutes to fill out a questionnaire.
The person administering the survey then scores the report and presents the information to the parents in an easy to read bar graph. Scores that fall in a shaded area may need to be addressed with the child's physician, scores in a light gray area should be monitored, and scores in no shaded area are within normal limits for the child's age. It takes about 3 minuets to score one test.
Research for the ASQ began in the 1970's when a push for low cost, culturally friendly, and valid assessments was made in the area of early childhood education. ASQ was first commercially published in 1995. It has been updated two times since, the latest version being ASQ-3. An additional tool, ASQ-SE, was developed in the 1990's to better screen social and emotional delays and concerns in young children. Both tests are available in English and Spanish. Older versions are also available in French and Korean.
A major factor in the cost effectiveness of this item is that after you purchase the kit, you are able to make as many copies of each questionnaire that you need. A kit includes physical copies and a CD with digital copies. There are additional kits available with toys and activities to help you better judge a child's abilities, but if you are in a learning environment (like a child care or home school) then you likely already have the items needed.
This is a screening tool that allows caregivers and parents to more reliably assess an individual child's abilities. I suggest pairing the Ages and Stages Questionnaire with a child portfolio and narrative progress report.