What is the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)?
What you need to know
Positive experiences in middle childhood build the foundation for healthy adolescence and adulthood. Data from the MDI guide schools, families, and communities to improve the lives of children during these critical years of growth and transition.
The Middle Years Development Instrument is a voluntary self-report questionnaire completed online by children in Grades 4 through 8 about their lives in school, in the home and in the community, from their own perspective.
Used Across the World
The MDI has been implemented in British Columbia, across provinces and territories in Canada, and by international governments and research institutions with language translations and cultural adaptations made where appropriate.
Measures a time of change
Experiences in the middle years—especially between the ages of 10 to 13 years—have critical and long-lasting effects. During this time, children experience significant cognitive, biological, social, and emotional changes that establish their lifelong identity and set the stage for successful development in adolescence and adulthood.
Strengths-based, Asset Based
Provides a full picture of children's well-being
The MDI is designed to gather data that provide a comprehensive portrait of children’s well-being on five key dimensions shown to be associated with children’s positive development: Social and Emotional Development, Physical Health and Well-Being, Connectedness, Use of After-School Time, and School Experiences. You can learn more about these five dimensions here.
From the voices of the children
Children’s voices matter. One of the core beliefs that is foundational to the MDI is that children’s voices deserve to be heard and responded to by the people across the multiple contexts in which they live. Asking children about their feelings, relationships, environments, and daily lives affords them with a critical opportunity to provide information about their well-being and the assets in their lives that would otherwise be inaccessible. Learning from children directly— in their own voices—can provide essential data to support evidence-based decision making for the design and implementation of programs and practices that promote children’s social and emotional health and well-being, funding priorities, and policy development across sectors.
The MDI is NOT an assessment tool
MDI data is easy to share
Although the MDI is a comprehensive measure that gathers data on child well-being and assets, the ultimate goal of the MDI project is not just about the data—it is about providing important information that can be used to support children to thrive and flourish during these critical years of growth and transition. MDI data are presented in reports for participating schools and communities with easy to understand visualizations and infographics. These reports are designed to help schools and communities understand the current state of children in the middle years and see patterns and variations in their MDI data. MDI reports can be used to gather stakeholders and explore ways to support children’s assets and well-being with parents and caregivers, educators, and leaders in the community. Let the data be your starting point – and use your data to spark discussions, dialogue, and catalyze action to support children’s well-being in the middle years.
Providing the Full Picture
The Middle Years Development Instrument helps shine light on the well-being, health, and assets of children during this critical time in their development. Find out more about what the MDI measures.