The usefulness of the Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1993 May;32(5):273-80. doi: 10.1177/000992289303200504.


Recent research supporting the effectiveness of early intervention and laws expanding services have increased the demand for accurate developmental screening tests. The Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test (BDIST), for children 6 months to 8 years old, has a number of desirable features, including subtests for fine and gross motor, adaptive, personal-social, receptive and expressive language, and cognitive skills; a range cutoff and age-equivalent scores; and national standardization. To assess its accuracy, the BDIST was administered to 104 children 7 to 83 months old, along with several other screening tests and a battery of criterion measures. Tied to 1.5 standard deviations below the mean, BDIST failing scores were moderately sensitive, detecting 75% of the children with developmental problems, such as mental retardation, borderline intelligence, language delays, and learning disabilities. Since 73% of the nonhandicapped children passed the BDIST, the test showed moderate specificity. Children within one month of their birthdays were likely to be over- or underreferred. Although the BDIST needs further research, it is a promising developmental screening instrument. The Receptive Language (RL) subtest, slightly more sensitive than the total BDIST but less specific, takes only a few minutes and thus is useful for prescreening in time-limited settings, such as pediatric practice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Developmental Disabilities / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Psychological Tests* / standards
  • Psychometrics
  • Sensitivity and Specificity