Measuring early learning and development across cultures: Invariance of the IDELA across five countries

Peter F. Halpin, Sharon Wolf, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Natalia Rojas, Sarah Kabay, Lauren Pisani, Amy Jo Dowd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relatively little research has addressed whether conceptual frameworks of early learning generalize across different national contexts. This article reports on a cross-country measurement invariance analysis of the International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA). The IDELA is a direct assessment tool for 3- to 6-year-old children, intended to measure Early Literacy, Early Numeracy, Motor, and Social- Emotional development. Its generalizability is evaluated using samples from 5 countries: Afghanistan (N = 2,629); Bolivia (N = 480); Ethiopia (N = 682); Uganda (N = 504); and Vietnam (N = 675). The 4-domain model of the IDELA was supported in each country, although the domains were highly correlated. Measurement invariance analysis revealed that most IDELA items do not provide a basis for comparing children's development over the 5 countries. This research supports the use of the IDELA for program evaluation and within-country monitoring purposes, but cautions against its use for international comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Cross cultural
  • Early learning
  • International development
  • Measurement invariance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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