Executive Function & Childhood Development

Using the MEFS App to measure and track social emotional development in students

In addition to focusing on literacy and numeracy skills, K-12 educators need to be well-versed in ways that promote the long-term development and success of all children. From cognitive flexibility to working memory to inhibitory control, Executive Function plays an important role in the development of the whole child. Educators interested in learning more about Executive Function can arrange for professional development through Reflection Sciences. The courses help educators understand the Executive Function skills that impact all angles of childhood development – from cognitive processing to social and emotional behaviors. Distinct from IQ, Executive Function skills can be taught and learned. These skills are vital for success in today’s school environment and are better predictors of academic success than IQ. The MEFS App is a direct assessment of Executive Function skills that can help educators measure their students, track their progress, and evaluate the effects of interventions and curricula.

How Does the MEFS App™ Help in the Classroom?

Pre-screening helps determine who can benefit most from Executive Function guidance
Measuring Executive Function over time shows efficacy of teaching and curriculum
Quick feedback provides data on efficacy of interventions
Early intervention is critical to help prevent children from falling behind

Teacher Reports

Teachers report that the most important determinant of children’s school readiness and success in kindergarten is how well they can sit still, pay attention, and follow rules—key Executive Function skills.

Executive Function skills can be assessed objectively and reliably using the MEFS App, a Kindergarten readiness assessment, whereas teacher reports are often subject to bias, such as “halo” effects, where a teacher’s feelings for a child may bias their assessment of the child’s behavior. In addition, unlike teacher reports, which are time consuming and require teachers to observe their students for weeks or months, Executive Function skills can be assessed quickly (~4 min) and at any time – event prior to school entry – using the MEFS App.

Effectively Measure School Readiness

The MEFS App, a Kindergarten readiness assessment, provides a brief, reliable, valid, inexpensive, and easily administered direct behavioral measure of Executive Function skills starting at age 2. Educators can easily identify a child’s level of school readiness or need for additional supports. The MEFS App also allows educators to track a child’s development of Executive Function skills and evaluate the effects of interventions. You get instant, easy-to-understand results.

Educator Spotlight

Dr. Alun Flynn

Principal Educational Psychologist, Powys, Wales, UK. Registered as a practitioner psychologist with the UK Health and Care Professions Council

Q: What is your passion?
A: My team of Educational Psychologists, assistants, and trainees aspire to improve outcomes for all children, especially those with additional needs or vulnerabilities. We all love working directly with or for children, which often involves working with parents. Powys is a large, rural county in mid-Wales. We are local government employees and have a statutory role in helping the local authority deliver its responsibilities for children with special educational needs.

Q: What is your organization’s mission or goal?
A: To use our knowledge of Psychology to:

  • Ensure each child’s special education needs are accurately described and understood; through quality consultation and assessment.
  • Help identify appropriate interventions to meet those needs and build on strengths.
  • Provide training to develop capacity in schools and with parents.
  • Apply evidence-based research and carry out appropriate research whenever possible.

Q: Why the MEFS App?
A: I have been using the MEFS App since September 2018 in casework. I hope to maintain quality assessment practice, and increasingly be in a position to enable other Psychologists and teachers. I chose the MEFS App because:

  • EF assessment should be holistic and as person-centered as possible
  • Observation, discussion, and scoring checklists help build up a profile of EF; but direct assessment reduces bias and adds to the richness of the overall assessment
  • The MEFS App is excellent in terms of child friendliness, accessibility, and technical quality
  • The MEFS App was developed by leading academics at the University of Minnesota who have added considerably to our knowledge on the educational implications of EF
  • The MEFS App can be used to monitor and evaluate interventions

K-12 Educator Resources

Looking to communicate what executive function is to your students’ parents? Feel free to share our executive function handout!

Download them here:
Executive Function Handout [English]
Executive Function Handout [Spanish]

Executive Function skills are proven to predict important developmental outcomes, including school readiness, social functioning, mental and physical health, and academic achievement. How do these skills develop from infancy to school-age years?

Download this resource here:
Executive Function: Ages and Stages [English]
Executive Function: Ages and Stages [Spanish]

The Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS App) is a brief, tablet-based comprehensive measure of executive function skills that is nationally normed down to 2 years of age. Reflection Sciences introduced the MEFS assessment to a consortium of independent schools to be used during the admissions process.

Download the Case Study to see the outcomes.

Read our Comparative Article to see how the MEFS App compares to other measures of executive function.

Real World Reviews

“We’ve been in business for over 30 years, and we’ve tried just about everything. We are committed to spending our time only doing what matters. The MEFS App is perfectly aligned to this way of thinking and working. The ease of administration and the conversations with our teachers about Executive Function are making a difference for our children! I love the individualized reports, and so do our families. We started using these reports during Family Conferences and had more engagement and ongoing dialogue than I ever remember. The MEFS App truly does ‘measure what matters’.”

Julie Thorner
Mini University

Understand, Measure, & Improve the true predictor of academic and life success.