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About the middle years development instrument

The middle years development instrument (MDI) is a survey for children aged 8 to 14 that collects information from students on non-academic factors relevant to learning and participation.

The MDI gives schools, the community and government an insight into what needs to occur to ensure children experience success and are provided with resources and opportunities to reach their full potential. 

The survey

The survey includes 80 questions related to the 5 areas of development linked to wellbeing, health and academic achievement.

It asks children how they think and feel about their experiences both inside and outside of school.

The MDI factsheet (PDF 356KB) contains further information for schools and parents.

The survey was developed in Canada and was trialled in Australia in 2013, with more than 6000 students from South Australia and Victoria taking part.

In 2015, over 29,000 students completed the survey from across 368 schools.

Participating in the MDI

It is not compulsory to participate in the MDI. 

If a school decides to participate in the MDI, a further decision to take part is required by the individual teacher, then approval is required by parents or caregivers and students.

Parents who do not want their child taking part in the survey can get their child’s name removed from the participant list by speaking to their teacher. 

Teachers can explain the survey to parents with poor reading skills to gain consent for participation.

Participating schools should provide parents with a letter containing information about the survey. 

Completing the survey

The MDI is undertaken at participating schools during school hours and takes about an hour to complete. In the majority of schools, the survey is completed online.

Students complete the survey in the presence of their teacher/survey administrator. Teachers are responsible for identifying any students who may have learning difficulties or not have a sufficient level of English to participate in the survey.

Survey administration for teachers

  1. Seek approval before allowing students to complete the survey by sending a letter to all parents in advance with the option of opting out. 
  2. Read instructions on registering and validating class lists, emailed to the school’s survey administrator by the department before the testing period.
  3. Read all resources sent by the department, which contain detailed information on conducting the survey.

Survey results

The results give schools, the community and government an insight into what is needed to ensure children succeed and are provided with the resources and opportunities to reach their fullest potential.

Schools, classrooms or students are not compared. Participating schools will receive a report based on student findings, but students are not identified.

See the sample school report (PDF 955KB) for an example of how the MDI survey results will be presented. 

MDI project

Phone: 8226 0452 
Emaildecd.mdi [at] sa.gov.au