Researcher Resources

The MEFS App 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 App ideal for Executive Function research with children – in the lab, in schools, in the field. The MEFS App 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.

Next Researcher Training Date:
Fr, March 23, 2018 at 2:00 pm CST
Fr, April 13, 2018 at 12:00 pm CST

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Validity of the MEFS App


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 27,000 (and growing) test results.


The MEFS App 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 App (e.g. socioeconomic disadvantage, ADHD-symptoms).

The MEFS Technical Report

Explore the MEFS Technical Report on performance outcomes, the 2017 updated norming sample, reliability, validity, correlations, case studies, and more.

Click here to download:
Downloadable MEFS Technical Report

Reliability of the MEFS App

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 tablet MEFS App has been given over 27,000 times to date across 140+ unique locations around the world.

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

The MEFS App Screening Reassures Family

Happiness is having a teacher let us know that because we screened a 3-year-old using the MEFS App, we were able to inform the child’s family, who was prepared to have this child on a different path of learning due to possible concerns, that he is on track in EF development. Thankful!

Peggy McGuire, Director of Child and Family Development – Project HELP, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Quick and Easy Tool for Young Children

The adaptive nature of the MEFS App 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 App is a Great Asset

The MEFS App 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 App?

New Paper from The Institute of Education Sciences - Executive Function: Implications for Education

In 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 CSUS Form.

Download the Short CSUS Form.

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.

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