With a host of information available from websites and other sources, readers may rightly question the validity of information, how findings are obtained and how much they can be trusted. Competent researchers submit their data to a variety of tests and also routinely test the tools they use for data collection as a method of checking their data's accuracy. 'The right tool for the job' is equally applicable to research.
Almost 10 years ago, the creators of the Early Development Instrument (EDI) first began assessing its usefulness for data collection, whether it was 'the right tool for the job.' One study has compared the EDI to another older testing tool, the FirstSTEPS assessment, which screens children for mild to severe learning-related problems. In the first stage of the study, the Early Development Instrument and the other tool were both used to assess the ability levels of a randomized sample of 94 junior kindergarten children. Comparing both sets of scores enabled researchers to see how results from the new instrument, the EDI, reflected results obtained using FirstSTEPS. It was encouraging to find that both tools produced substantially similar findings. The consistency varied from 0.53 to 0.73 across the topic areas, showing a high level of concurrent validity. (A perfect, positive score, i.e., identical results, would be 1.)
Continuing their study, researchers decided to take a second look at children rated with the EDI to determine whether the tool could be valuable for predicting later problems in school. The same group of JK children and a second sample of children tested in senior kindergarten were assessed when they reached grade 2 with an assortment of tools used to gauge children's level of physical, cognitive and behavioural development: Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude (DTLA), the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Visual-Motor Integration (VMI) questionnaire. In all, 122 children from the original groups participated in the grade 2 testing. EDI scores were able to shed light on the most vulnerable children, those ranking in the lowest 10 per cent of the each sample in one or two EDI areas. Children with these low scores on the EDI in kindergarten were more likely to be considered 'at risk' for problems in grade 2. In particular, this vulnerable group was among those rated as having lower reading skills and knowledge levels on some tests, lower social skills and emotional maturity and higher levels of hyperactivity. The value of the EDI for predicting children's ability to progress well in school is undergoing further study, but has shown so far that it can have a place helping schools identify and respond to the varying learning needs of young children.