BACKGROUND: With the importance of early childhood development more recognized by the international society, low-cost and cross-culturally comparable measures of early childhood development is in great demand, both in China and worldwide. In this study, we aim to test the psychometrics of the Chinese version of The Early Human Capability Index (eHCI), which is designed as a measurement for school readiness in large population. METHODS: We evaluated the internal consistency, test-retest reliability, inter-rater reliability, factor structure, criterion-related validity, and discriminant validity of the eHCI in 20,324 preschool children in Shanghai. We also compared eHCI scores with test result of ASQ in 815 children in Yexian and EAP-ECDS in 6947 children in Daming. RESULTS: The ICC between parents and teachers were 0.83 and 0.63 for Literacy Numeracy and Overall Development. The confirmatory factor analyses showed good model fit (χ2 = 509,323, p < 0.001; CFI = 0.901; RMSEA = 0.038). The correlations between the scores of eHCI and other ECD metrics ranged between r = - 0.42 and r = 0.53. The scale discriminated between children's developmental level based on sex, parental education, family income, family assets, and nutrition status. CONCLUSIONS: Results from Chinese population suggested that eHCI is valid and reliable for measuring early childhood development in children aged 3-6 years. The eHCI can be applied to map the global distribution of early childhood development for allocating scarce resources to help those in greatest demand. Longitudinal studies are warranted to test its predictive validity for later outcomes.