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, May 11, 2018 at 12:00 pm CT

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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).

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

The MEFS Technical Report
and EF Growth Charts

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

The MEFS Growth Charts (monthly and half-yearly versions) are based on our 2017 youth norms.

Click here to download:
Downloadable MEFS Technical Report
Downloadable MEFS Growth Charts

Researcher Spotlight

Dr. Ben Deery
Lecturer and Researcher at Melbourne University Graduate School of Education, Clinical Neuropsychologist and qualified Early Childhood Educator, and Honorary Research Fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Australia

Q: What is your passion?
A: Investigating risk and protective factors for young children’s learning and development, and examining possible interventions and strategies to improve child outcomes. I am currently most interested in interventions that promote executive functions, and even more recently the possible role that childhood games and play has on contemporary and evolutionary development of executive functions.

Q: What is your project’s mission or goal?
A: The current project we are using the MEFS for is to evaluate the possible impact of a play-based Mindfulness program, called Mindful M.A.T. Time (Movement, Attention or Awareness, and Thinking) for Early Years, on at-risk preschool and kindergarten students’ cognitive, behavioural and social-emotional functioning. We have promising pilot results and are currently planning a larger randomised controlled trial of the intervention.

Q: Why the MEFS App?
A: The MEFS provides us with a quick, reliable and valid measure of global executive function, which we can also contrast with other more specific aspects such as working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. Young children enjoy completing it on an iPad and its ease of administration takes away the need for using flashcards and boxes.

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.

Real World Reviews

The MEFS Assessment Benefits Families

We have completed our second round of​ MEFS ​assessment and after parent intervention, have seen improvements in many​ ​of the children we work with. One of our volunteer mentors could not believe how beneficial the MEFS information was for YWCA, but also for the parent. The mother realized that the interventions truly benefited her daughter. There was pride all around!

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

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