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The development of a 50 word adaptation of the UK short form of the MCDI for use with two years olds in Sure Start Programmes in England

Lookup NU author(s): Professor James LawORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a report published in its final definitive form in 2004. For re-use rights please refer to the publishers terms and conditions.


This paper reports on the development of the UK adaptation of the existing UK short form of the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (MCDI) referred to here as the CDI, for use in the Sure Start programmes in England. Sure Start is a UK government initiative designed to improve opportunities for the most socially disadvantaged communities in England, many of which have a high promotion of families from immigrant groups. It places special emphasis on children under the age of four years. It is organised on the basis of local programmes which are geographically defined. These programmes have been introduced in a series of rounds since 1999. Sure Start reports directly to the UK Treasury and is required to meet a set of predetermined targets, of which one relates to the language development of two year olds. The Sure Start Language Measure or SSLM was initially made up of the UK short form of the MCDI and a series of questions related to the child’s development. However, it has been modified to meet the needs of the Sure Start programmes and it is this process of this modification that it the subject of this paper. The resulting 50 word modification was derived form the UK short form in a manner similar to that reported for the original derivation of the UK short form from the full MCDI word list. The result is considered more acceptable to those administering the measure and has the potential to have better application to children whose first language is not English.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Harris F, Law J, Roy P

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2004

Print publication date: 01/12/2004

Notes: This document was produced in 2004. Recently the measure the SSLM to which this report refers has been used as part of a project funded by the Department of Education and Public Health England. This has resulted int he development of a measure which is now being used through England. The report for this project is in the Newcastle University repository Law, J., Charlton, J., McKean, C., Roulstone, S., Watson, R., Holme, C.,Gilroy, V., Wilson, P. & Rush, R. (2020) Developing the Early Language Identification Measure – Extended [ELIM-E] part of PHE/DFE project IDENTIFYING AND SUPPORTING CHILDREN’S EARLY LANGUAGE NEEDS. Newcastle University Repository. Because the provenance of this measure is potentially important public knowledge it is appropriate to now make it publicly available.