Validation and trial of the AEDI

Validation and trial of the AEDI

The following validation studies were undertaken to ensure rigorous adaptation of the Early Development Instrument for Australia, known as the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument:

Phase 1 (2001-2003): Modification of the Canadian Early Development Instrument and pilot testing for Australia 

Between 2001 and 2003 the Canadian Early Development Instrument was reviewed and then piloted with seven schools under the Perth North Metro Health Service EDI study. It was completed on 4300 children in their first year of school. Its local utility, acceptability and perceived value were confirmed.

Phase 2 (2004-2008): The Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) establishes the AEDI National Support Centre and adapts the Early Development Instrument for Australia

A Technical Advisory Group (TAG), chaired by Professor John Ainley from the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), was established by CCCH to advise on the development of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). 

ThTAG provided technical guidance on all of the following validation and adaptation process.  

Rasch scaling (reviewing the Early Development Instrument items):

Professor David Andrich from Murdoch University was commissioned to review the Early Development Instrument as a survey tool. The Early Development Instrument questions were refined based on an analysis of the responses and nine questions were omitted. From this the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument was created.

A further validation phase was undertaken in 2004 to confirm that the Canadian and Australian versions of the Early Development Instrument were completed in the same way by teachers and to ensure that there were no difficulties. No further modifications were recommended.  

Community implementation and pilot testing

From 2004 to 2008, the AEDC was tested in 60 communities who chose to participate in the pilot. ACER was commissioned to develop a web-based data entry system as an alternative to the paper-based approach used for the Canadian Early Development Instrument. The data entry system was successfully piloted in communities in every state and territory (except the NT) with only minor modifications needed to the system. The associated AEDC maps were developed at the same time. The AEDC was completed on over 40,000 children over three years. An evaluation undertaken at the time recommended that although there was initial enthusiasm, any further uptake of the AEDC would require local and state “buy in” from schools and Education Departments and that funding should be made available for teacher backfill.

The AEDC/LSAC Predictive Study was led by The Telethon Kids Institute (the Institute) and analysed the AEDI results obtained from the 4 year old cohort and follow up data about the health and wellbeing outcomes from subsequent years of children’s lives to determine the predictive validity of the AEDC.

The AEDC Indigenous Adaptation Study was led by the Institute and was undertaken to examine the cultural validity of the AEDC for Indigenous children. This was undertaken by the Kulunga Research Network (KRN) at the Institute and the community reference group for the Aboriginal Collaborative Council of Applied Research and Evaluation (ACCARE) provided cultural advice and support to ensure the cultural integrity of the research methodology and community engagement processes. 

Phase 3: The 2009, 2012 and 2015 AEDC National data collections

In 2009 the AEDC National Support Centre at CCCH provided the data collection systems, AEDC maps and community support for Cycle 1. In 2012 and 2015 the Social Research Centre (SRC) provided the data collection system for Cycle 2 and 3.

After the 2012 data collection, progress over time analyses were undertaken by examining changes between cycles in the AEDI at the community level in comparison to the overall national AEDI population change and socio-demographic change. These results were necessary to report AEDI community differences on the AEDI mapping website.

Evaluation of the AEDC national implementation 2010

In 2010, an independent evaluation was undertaken of the AEDC national implementation. The evaluation methodology included interviews with key stakeholders and considered the appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency, governance, quality and suitability of the AEDC.

The evaluation had a formative focus in recognition of the recentness of the 2009 data collection and that only preliminary community-level data had been released at that point.

The evaluation found strong support for the AEDC and its continuance. Key findings were that the collection:

  • meets a major need in an area of national priority

  • has substantial potential to impact early childhood development outcomes

  • has potential as a progress measure and headline indicator

  • should be repeated

The evaluation also had a number of findings that informed the design of the 2012 implementation. These included that the AEDC:

  • should be embedded in the core business of government

  • requires greater emphasis on building community engagement and capacity

  • needs a design model that includes capacity to contract the complex aspects of delivery to specialists

  • requires the establishment of a strategic research agenda

For further information please contact the SRC through support@aedc.gov.au for a copy of the final summary report and four evidence reports.

Review of the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument

In 2011 a brief review of the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument was undertaken and in 2014 a more thorough review was completed by the Centre for Community Child Health in consultation with a range of policy and expert stakeholders. A number of recommendations to improve the efficiency and validity of some of the questions were adopted and included in the 2015 Australian version of the Early Development Instrument.

The AEDC was formerly known as the Australian Early Development Index and became the AEDC on 1 July 2014.


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