Instrument to measure progress of 4th graders

Revelstoke is taking part in the pilot project for a new study that will look at children’s development in fourth grade.

Called the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), the study asks students questions about their happiness, optimism, and sense of belonging, as well as their connectedness to their family, school and neighbourhood.

“What we know from research is that when people have these certain characteristics internal to them like optimism or external supports, feeling a sense of belonging, they do much better. They have much better short-term outcomes and long-term outcomes,” said Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, the lead researcher of the project. “It’s a whole child perspective, it’s not just focusing on their academic achievement.”

The study was developed by the Human Early Leaning Partnership, the same group that created the Early Development Instrument that has been adopted across Canada and that Revelstoke has shown great performance in.

The new instrument expands on the EDI by looking at children several years later and fills in a gap, said Schonert-Reichl.

“That’s been an age group that’s been forgotten,” she said. “We often learn about early childhood development, with younger kids 0-6 and then we move on to adolescence when the problems start beginning but this age of 6-12 has been relatively ignored in terms of us from a Canadian vision of where they are and how they’re doing.”

The surveys are filled out by the children themselves, giving an insight into what they’re thinking.

“The research says by fourth grade you can complete a survey about your own understanding of yourself and your relationships in a reliable and valid way,” she said. “If we really want to know how kids feel we can ask them and they will respond truthfully.”

The MDI was rolled out across Vancouver last year and is now being piloted in numerous other communities in B.C. The data from Vancouver showed 26 per cent of students had low health and well-being. It also showed that well-being and assets varied across neighbourhoods – wealthier neighbourhoods scored higher in both categories.

In Revelstoke, the surveys were completed in February and the results are expected in May, said Anne Cooper, the school district superintendent. She said it will help the school district and the community know more about its youth and the create better programs and supports for them.

“I think with us knowing precisely what our grade four kids are thinking and feeling around their well-being, I think it will help us tailor even more programs or refine existing programs so we can have the healthiest kids that we can,” she said. “The information is really what we’re after and we intend to do something with it.”