, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 345-369,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 02 Oct 2012

Development and Validation of the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI): Assessing Children’s Well-Being and Assets across Multiple Contexts


Few instruments provide reliable and valid data on child well-being and contextual assets during middle childhood, using children as informants. The authors developed a population-level, self-report measure of school-aged children’s well-being and assets—the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)—and examined its reliability and validity. The MDI was designed to assess child well-being inside and outside of school on five dimensions: (1) Social and emotional development, (2) Connectedness to peers and to adults at school, at home, and in the neighborhood, (3) School experiences, (4) Physical health and well-being, and (5) Constructive use of time after school. This paper describes the theoretical framework, selection of items and scales for the survey, and four studies that were conducted to revise the MDI and examine its psychometric properties. The findings indicate a theoretically predicted factor structure, high internal consistency, and document the convergent and discriminant validity of the MDI scales. The discussion delineates a plan for future validation studies that address further validity questions, such as predictive validity, measurement invariance, and fairness/bias, and provides a brief outlook of how the MDI may be used by practitioners, educators, and decision makers in schools and communities to motivate and inform action in support children’s well-being.