MDI National Scale-out Project


HELP’s MDI National Scale-out Project

Building on the early success of the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) in BC, HELP is now taking the MDI survey to at least four Canadian regions outside BC. The MDI National Scale-out Project is funded by the McConnell and Max Bell Foundations for three years, from 2015 to 2018.

What are the goals of the MDI National Scale-out Project?

Working with partners across Canada, HELP will use the data from the MDI survey for measuring and mapping children’s social and emotional health and well-being and to provide schools, communities and governments with data from the children themselves. It is our intent that schools, communities and governments use this data in their planning and decision-making about programs and initiatives for children. An overall goal is that the MDI becomes part of a national system for monitoring children’s well-being. 

What kind of information does the MDI survey gather?

The MDI survey gathers valuable information about how children in their middle childhood years, in Grade 4 and Grade 7, think and feel about their lives. It includes questions related to the five areas of development that are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement. This information can be used in planning at the school and community level to enhance children’s well-being and healthy development.  The MDI survey has been used in this way in BC since 2009, with responses from over 32,000 Grade 4 and Grade 7 students.

The MDI survey is completed by children during one or two class periods. Previous research has found that responses from children in grade 4 and above are as reliable and valid as responses from adults.
Ensuring children’s privacy is a very important aspect of the MDI. For more information about the MDI itself and the ways children’s privacy is protected, see the MDI page.

Where will the MDI Survey be piloted?

In 2015-2016 HELP is supporting the first site, Chignecto-Central Regional School Board in Nova Scotia, where pilots of the MDI will be undertaken in selected Grade 4 classrooms. As an exciting companion initiative, the MDI is also be implemented with Grade 4 and Grade 7 students in the Northwest Territories this year.

In autumn 2016, three more Canadian sites will be added and the first demonstration sites will implement the MDI more widely, with all their Grade 4 and/or Grade 7 students.

What happens after the survey results are collected?

Engaging the community and sharing MDI results is foundational to the process of National Scale-out. Community engagement involves a process of bringing stakeholders together to examine the MDI reports and discuss implications for their local initiatives.

For example, one secondary school realized that inadequate amount of sleep was a health concern for their incoming Grade 7 students, and would impact their learning, so they initiated a “Sleep Committee” of students, parents and staff who planned ways of engaging the school community in fun activities to learn about sleep and improve sleep habits.  The Children’s Librarians in another community realized that they could be offering after-school activities for areas of the community where children expressed a lack of opportunity.

Additional Information

For more information about the MDI Scale-out Project, or to answer any questions you may have, please contact us at