Five Key Messages about the MDI

5 Key Messages about the MDI

New to the tool? Sharing information with others? Here’s what everyone needs to know about the MDI.

The MDI provides data on groups, not individuals.

The MDI is a population-level research tool. This means that although individual students complete the questionnaire, the results are not used to evaluate individual children, nor are they used to rank teachers, neighbourhoods, schools or school districts.

The value of MDI data lies not in assessing the strengths and needs of one student or one class, but in seeing patterns across a community or district, and across time for groups of children during middle childhood.

The MDI focuses on strengths.

The questions on the MDI are designed to ask children to reflect on the positive aspects of their lives, and provides them the opportunity to share these reflections with adults, often for the first time. MDI data can show schools and communities where they are already strong and point the way to growing even stronger.

The MDI is not a rating tool or a report card. Even if your data isn’t what you’d like it to be, it’s important to first recognize what strengths are present and work to re-frame challenges as opportunities to build capacity.

We can make change.

It’s important to remember that skills and habits are malleable—they can be learned and strengthened during middle childhood. This is especially true of social-emotional and relationship-building skills; research continues to identify programs and practices targeting these skills that demonstrate positive, long-term outcomes for children. Middle childhood is the perfect time to begin modeling behaviour, practicing social-emotional skills, and supporting new healthy habits.

We also know that the assets that support middle years well-being are actionable–which means that we can intentionally build relationships with children, provide them with enriching after-school programs, and cultivate classroom and school environments that make every student feel like they belong.

Children’s Voices Matter.

One of the core beliefs of the MDI is that children’s voices deserve to be heard. Asking children for their input is valuable because it provides us with rich data on child well being that we couldn’t otherwise access – data which we can use to create environments and interactions which help children thrive.

It’s also powerful because it tells children that we value their thoughts and feelings, and grants them a say in how their schools and communities make changes to support them.

Children’s Responses are Valid.

Research has found that responses from children in Grade 4 and above are as reliable and valid as responses from adults. A total of four studies were conducted to test the validity of the MDI survey, including two initial pilots in 2008, and two district-wide pilots in both urban and rural communities in 2009 and 2010.

Results from these studies showed the MDI to have both strong reliability and validity. Data checks are repeated every year to ensure the data collected each year meets rigorous research standards. Check out our References section to review our pilot study and ongoing research publications.