Only a fifth of 400 reception teachers questioned by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers thought that the foundation-stage profile was helpful or very helpful. Sixty per cent of the respondents said it had made little difference to their teaching.
The profile had to be completed for the first time in the summer term 2003.
It assesses pupils against a nine-point scale in 13 areas of achievement.
It is also designed to demonstrate what skills children have mastered between the ages of three and five.
The scale for using numbers, for example, ranges from being able to count three everyday objects to being able to recognise, count, order, write and use numbers up to 20.
Gwen Evans, deputy general secretary of the ATL, said: "The profile is seen as something from outside for outsiders, but it does offer something which ought to be better than some ways of measuring progress.
"Teachers need to get together to talk about using the profile in a way which doesn't mean those opinions stop there, but feed back into practice."
Concerns have also been expressed about the clash between the play-based foundation-stage curriculum and the more formal national curriculum which begins when children move into Year 1.
Although 57 per cent of the respondents to the ATL poll felt that the foundation-stage profile would be useful to Year 1 teachers, only 40 per cent had discussed the profile with Year 1 colleagues and just 10 per cent had involved the whole school.
A survey of 15,000 five-year-olds undertaken by researchers at Durham university found that one in three children had exceeded the foundation-stage goals in maths by the end of the year.
The findings were backed up by the chief inspector's annual report which said that many teachers were not yet sufficiently confident in using the profile and were relying instead on existing records and assessments because they provide more detail.