Griffiths III: Development of a revision (BACCH News)

by Jamie Banks

By Dr Elizabeth Green, reprinted from BACCH News, June 2016.

Revisions of tests are becoming a fact of life but changing from a ‘beloved and relied-upon test’ to an improved updated version is daunting as many users have their own ideas of what is helpful or unhelpful in the current scales.

Tests of child development need regular updates to ensure that they continue:

  • to accurately reflect stages of development in a modern context,
  • to maintain links with the broader educational context.

At the start of our work to review and consider updating the Birth to Two Years (Huntley version) and GMDS-ER, it was not clear what needed to be done apart from the obvious design of a continuous scale rather than two different scales across the age range.

We decided therefore to do an exploratory phase of research using a variety of methods to examine what current users wanted or did not want; the details of research findings that might be included in a new Griffiths Scale; the views of experts in the field particularly on areas of new research. We finished with a questionnaire to all Griffiths users for whom we had active email addresses.

From all this work we confirmed a number of guiding principles for the design of
the major reconstruction of the earlier Griffiths Scales. The work has been carried out by a team of Griffiths Tutors in the UK, Republic of Ireland and in South Africa. Professor Louise Stroud has been the Lead Researcher appointed by A.R.I.C.D, the Association for Research in Infant and Child Development, a charity that continues to hold the copyright of the Griffiths Scales.

The age range of Griffiths III has been reduced to 6 years as this was the ceiling of the test most users preferred. It continues to be suitable for infants from birth. Retained items from the earlier Griffiths Scales have been allocated to the subscale where the main construct is most appropriate. Many familiar items have held their place in the Griffiths.

Griffiths III continues to have a subscale structure with 5 subscales for the full age range of the test:

  • Subscale A Foundations of Learning contains appropriate test items from the GMDS-ER subscales of Performance and Practical Reasoning together with new items to broaden the cognitive basis of the subscale.
  • Subscale B Language and Communication now covers the full range of language development in young children with updated pictures and test items.
  • Subscale C Eye and Hand Coordination now has a wider range of test items with less emphasis on graphomotor skills as these are not culturally fair.
  • Subscale D Personal-Social- Emotional has been broadened to include emotional development and theory of mind with less emphasis on self-help skills.
  • Subscale E Gross Motor has test item changes particularly in the first year to assess developing postural control plus later items to assess motor sequencing.

The test items have been designed or modified to take account of the latest developmental and psychoneurological research to make a more streamlined, modern assessment. What new inclusions are there in the equipment? All the equipment has been replaced by modern versions by our German owned publishing company Hogrefe. To facilitate testing, a version of a “quiet book” has been specially designed to include a number of items from different subscales in a way that appeals particularly to children. The manufactured Quiet Book will be fully cleanable and able to be sprayed with a disinfectant spray.

Griff and Ruthie, both bears, have been introduced into Griffiths III to add a thread of continuity through the subscales and a culturally neutral way of assessing some aspects of development such as emotional understanding.

Scoring methodology has returned to the simpler methods associated with versions of the Griffiths Scales before GMDS-ER together with the use of histograms to analyse a child’s developmental profile. Scores of developmental age, developmental quotients in each subscale plus a total developmental quotient are obtainable from norm tables together with scaled scores, percentiles, and stanines.
Authorised GMDS-ER users will be able to access an e-learning conversion module free of charge. Some face to face conversion courses will also be available but , as registration for Griffiths III will be through the e-learning module, this will need to be still completed. Access to the conversion e-learning is through the new A.R.I.C.D. website

Course for new users of Griffiths III will be of shorter length in combination with an e-learning module. Full details will be available soon on the A.R.I.C.D. website.

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