The MEFS provides an efficient and reliable way to assess EF skills directly, including in real-world contexts. The ease of use, high level of child engagement, and automated scoring relative to national norms makes the MEFS ideal for Executive Function research with children – in the lab, in schools, in the field. The MEFS can be administered repeatedly to the same individuals, to track changes over time. Existing Executive Function measures developed for research and clinical purposes are lengthy and/or require PhD credentials. Some measures are not sensitive across the entire preschool period, let alone across the lifespan. No comparable EF measure is reliable down to 2 years of age.
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Validity of the MEFS
Assesses working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility in one brief measure.
High correlations with other EF assessments including the NIH Toolbox Battery of EF Measures, EF Touch Battery, and the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task, yet is briefer than any other measure; designed for a younger/less advantaged starting point; more sensitive to gradual changes; normed down to age 2; and the only EF measure supported by training, professional development, intervention, and data analytics based on over 10,000 (and growing) test results
MEFS is not strongly correlated with IQ, suggesting it is measuring a distinct construct
High concurrent correlations with Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, a widely used school readiness assessment; outperforms other EF measures; predicts kindergarten reading level and first grade math achievement.
Children known to have difficulty with EF perform more poorly on the MEFS (e.g. socioeconomic disadvantage, ADHD-symptoms).
Reliability of the MEFS
This adaptive assessment changes with a child's development, and the starting level is dependent on age. Children advance to the next level if they pass, and continue to advance until they fail (ceiling). If children fail the starting level, the program automatically goes back to an easier set until the child's current level of functioning is reached. Outcome scores are based on accuracy and response time. The iPad MEFS has been given over 10,000 times to date.
Valid assessment of age-related changes in a large cross-sectional sample of preschool children
High test-retest reliability with no practice or fatigue effects
Conforms to ordinal scaling analysis
Demonstrated reliability in field settings, including Head Start classrooms & homeless shelters
Real World Reviews
Quick and Easy Tool for Young Children
The adaptive nature of the MEFS makes it a quick tool to use, which is imperative when studying very young children. The training was thorough and responsive to our needs. We hope to use this measure to understand the development of children’s executive function over time in a high quality early childhood setting, as well as providing teachers in the program with data to inform their classroom practice.
Shannon Guss, Project Director at the Early Childhood Education Institute at OU-Tulsa
MEFS is a Great Asset
The MEFS is a great asset to our study—the app is easy to use, the MEFS team has been really helpful in helping us launch the task in our research, and the child participants love the task. We can’t wait to analyze the data so we can learn more about the role of pre- and postnatal maternal adversity and opportunity in the development of children’s executive function!
Nicki Bush, PhD - Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at UCSF
Downloadable Tools for Researchers
Writing a grant or publication that includes the MEFS?
Download a description of the MEFS tool below.
New Paper from The Institute of Education Sciences - Executive Function: Implications for Education
this new Institute of Education Sciences paper, Reflection Sciences, Inc. Co-founder Dr. Phil Zelazo and Co-authors Clancy B. Blair and Michael T. Willoughby highlight key findings on executive function in relation to its relevance in educational research and practice. Read the full article here.
Children's Social Understanding Scale (Tahiroglu et al., 2014)
The CSUS is a validated caregiver-report measure of children’s developing understanding of the mind and mental states of others, such as what other people perceive, think, and feel. This awareness grows throughout childhood, and is highly correlated with executive function (EF) (e.g., Carlson & Moses, 2001; Devine & Hughes, 2014). With stronger EF skills, children are better able to see things from another person’s perspective, as well as their own. Together, EF and social understanding provide a foundation for successful social interactions and conflict resolution. Download the long or short form of the CSUS below.
Developmental Emotional Faces Stimulus Set (Meuwissen, Anderson, & Zelazo, 2016)
The DEFSS is a standardized set of photographic stimuli, including both child and adult faces, that has been validated by participants across a range of ages. It consists of 404 validated facial photographs of people between 8 and 30 years old displaying five different emotional expressions: happy, angry, fearful, sad, and neutral. Download the DEFSS files below.