Developmental and Social-Emotional Screening Module

Section 3: Instrument Selection Information

The Minnesota Interagency Developmental Screening Task Force (MN Task Force) began in 2004 to assure the quality and effectiveness of and to provide a standard of practice for the developmental and social-emotional components of the screening of children birth through age five. The MN Task Force includes members from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Education, and the University of Minnesota, Irving B. Harris Center for Infant and Toddler Development.

On an ongoing basis, the MN Task Force reviews and updates the instrument selection criteria and updates recommendations of developmental and social-emotional screening instruments based on current research and reviews. Instruments may be removed from recommendation if concerns arise about failures to meet any of the review criteria.

The following criteria are used by the MN Task Force when recommending and approving developmental and social-emotional screening instruments, and should be used when selecting screening instruments in practice.

Current instruments recommended by the MN Task Force for developmental and social-emotional screening are approved for use in children ages birth through 16 years, though the age range for each instrument varies. Information on all of these instruments can be found at the All Instruments At A Glance link. Information on tools most typically used in a clinical setting can be found at the Instruments At A Glance for Clinics and Providers link.

Below are links to instruments recommended by the MN Task Force:

All Instruments At A Glance
http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fh/mch/devscrn/glance.html

Instruments At A Glance for Clinics and Providers
http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fh/mch/devscrn/clinicinfo.html

Developmental and Social-Emotional Screening Instrument Review Criteria

The following criteria are used by the MN Task Force when recommending and approving developmental and social-emotional screening instruments, and should be used when selecting screening instruments in practice.

1. Instrument Purpose
The purpose and design of the instrument should focus on screening, rather than diagnosis, in order to identify children who are at risk of developmental and social-emotional delays.

2. Developmental Domains
As referenced on the MN Task Force website, best practice indicates that the following domains should be included in an early childhood developmental screening instrument:

Motor

Language

Cognitive

Social-emotional

Even though the social-emotional domain is embedded within some of the developmental screening instruments, these instruments have not been validated separately for social-emotional screening purposes. Developmental screening instruments have been validated only for developmental screening purposes. Therefore, the MN Task Force also reviews and recommends separate social-emotional screening instruments to identify children who may have or are at risk of social-emotional and/or behavioral delays.

3. Psychometric Properties
Developmental screening tests should have well-established statistical characteristics.  These statistical characteristics are called psychometric properties, and include the indicators reliability, validity, sensitivity, and specificity.  The identified characteristics are described in more detail below, and the descriptions include the criteria established by the MN Task Force for use when reviewing developmental and social-emotional screening instruments. Psychometric properties are expressed on a 0-1.0 scale, with 1.0 representing the greatest value for each indicator. For example, .70 represents 70%.

a. Reliability
“Reliability is a statistical indicator of how consistently or how often identical test results can be obtained with the same screening instrument.”  (Meisels, Atkins-Burnett, 2005).  A reliable instrument is one in which differences in scores are less attributable to chance, and more attributable to differences in development between children. (Meisels, Atkins-Burnett, 2005).

The MN Task Force expects reliability scores of approximately 0.70 or above. Each instrument is evaluated on the actual reliability scores and the methods used to obtain these scores, such as scores by age, test-retest, inter-rater and intra-rater reliabilities.

b. Validity
Validity is a statistical indicator of the accuracy of the test.  “Validity tells us whether a test is measuring what we want to measure,” and accomplishing its intended purpose. (Meisels, Atkins-Burnett, 2005). 

The MN Task Force expects validity scores of approximately 0.70 or above. Each instrument is evaluated on the actual validity scores and on the methods used to obtain these scores.  Measures of validity must be conducted on a significant number of children and using an appropriate standardized developmental or social-emotional screening instrument(s).

c. Sensitivity
Sensitivity refers to the proportion of children who may have or are at risk for a developmental delay and are correctly identified by the screening. (Meisels, Atkins-Burnett, 2005).  A high sensitivity score indicates few false negative screening results.

The MN Task Force expects sensitivity scores of approximately 0.70 or above.

d. Specificity
Specificity “refers to the proportion of children not at risk who are not labeled at-risk by the screening.” (Meisels, Atkins-Burnett, 2005).

The MN Task Force expects specificity scores of approximately 0.70 or above.

Instruments At-A-Glance
The MN Task Force provides a chart which includes comparison information for the recommended developmental and social-emotional screening instruments.

Developmental Screening Instruments for Young Children in Minnesota
http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fh/mch/devscrn/glance.html

Note: In Minnesota, the Denver-II (DDST-II) is not a recommended developmental screening instrument. Please see the link below for more information on the Denver-II.
http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/fh/mch/devscrn/faq.html#denver

Questions

1. Which of the following is NOT a domain required to be covered in a developmental screening instrument?

Language
Social-emotional
Intelligence
Motor
Cognitive

2. Developmental screening instruments should focus on:
Identifying children who may have or are at risk of developmental delays.
Diagnosing developmental disorders.
School readiness.
3. Which of the following includes the correct definitions for reliability and validity?
Reliability is a statistical indicator of the accuracy of the test. Validity is a statistical indicator of how consistently or how often identical test results can be obtained with the same screening instrument.
Reliability refers to the proportion of children who may have or are at risk for developmental delay who are correctly identified by the test. Validity refers to the proportion of children not at risk who are not labeled at-risk by the screening.
Reliability is a statistical indicator of how consistently or how often identical test results can be obtained with the same screening instrument. Validity is a statistical indicator of the accuracy of the test.

References

Meisels, S. J., & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2005). Developmental Screening in Early Childhood: A Guide (5th ed.). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.


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