Let's talk about strengths: AEDC introduces a strengths based measure of early childhood development in Australia

Mar 14, 2017

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) has introduced a new measure of early childhood development to complement its current suite of indicators. Developed by the Telethon Kids Institute, the Multiple Strength Indicator (MSI), is a strength based measure that provides information on children’s developmental strengths as they commence full-time school.

Australia is the first country in the world to use the MSI and it marks an important step in fostering a more inclusive and positive dialogue around early childhood development. By highlighting what is going well for children, the measure enables communities, schools, and policy makers to seek a solution driven approach that builds on children’s existing capabilities to give them the best start in life.

The MSI uses responses to the Australian version of the Early Development Instrument (AvEDI), the Instrument used in the AEDC. Responses primarily from the social and emotional maturity domains are used, although responses from all five domains of child development are drawn upon. The 39 items/questions used to calculate the MSI are AvEDI questions that focus on the more advanced skills, competencies and dispositions children have at school entry.

Benchmarks, or cut-points for the MSI were established using 2009 data, and children fall into one of three categories based on the number of strengths they display. These include:

  • highly developed strengths (above 50th percentile in 2009)

  • well developed strengths (25th to 50th percentile in 2009)

  • emerging strengths (below 25th percentile in 2009). 

As a strengths based measure, the MSI is best used alongside other AEDC indicators to support a more holistic understanding of early childhood development in Australia.

For more information, refer to the MSI Fact Sheet, Research Snapshot, and the Technical Report. MSI Community Summaries, reporting 2015 data at the community, state and national level, are also available to download from the AEDC Data Explorer.