Introducing First Screen: A Software Application for Students at Risk for Specific Learning Disabilities

Geet Oberoi, Diksha Gajria, Krishnaveni Achary, Giang Pham


Background: Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) impacts millions of children worldwide. Without accurate diagnosis and intervention, children with SLD show poor academic and long-term outcomes. A vital step towards addressing the needs of children with SLD is to screen for the risk of SLD and advise families on when to seek further evaluation. The First Screen app by Orkids, New Delhi, was designed as a screening tool to facilitate early identification. It was created to be freely accessible and easy to use for parents and teachers.

Aim: This study evaluates the psychometric properties of the First Screen app. We report on the reliability and validity of this screening tool including how well this report measure corresponds to a direct measure of student achievement.

Setting and Design: A total of 284 respondents completed the First Screen app to report on the abilities of children, ages 6 to 11. All respondents were parents or teachers living in India who completed the First Screen app in English. The app is designed to be user friendly so that individuals can independently provide information about a child using an Android device.

Materials and Methods: The First Screen app measures nine domains: Reading, Writing, Oral language, Mathematics, Motor and Sensory, Social skills, Attention/hyperactivity, Executive Functioning, and Memory. Upon completion, the First Screen app immediately provides one of three recommendations: Full Assessment for children with low ratings in 3 or more domains, Watch and See for children with low ratings in 1-2 domains; and No Concern for children with no low ratings. Internal consistency was measured using Cronbach’s coefficient alphas for the total score and nine domains. Concurrent validity was measured in three ways. First, we conducted ANOVAs to determine group differences in the total score and domains. Second, we calculated Cramer’s V to examine the correlation between the categorical results of the First Screen and a standardized test of achievement. This correlation was based on a subset of participants (n = 84) who completed both First Screen and standardized testing. Third, we calculated diagnostic accuracy measures of sensitivity and specificity to compare the First Screen recommendation of Full Assessment to the results of direct testing.

Outcomes and results: Cronbach’s alphas for the total items of the First Screen app was 0.979, suggesting very good overall internal consistency. Alphas across domains ranged from 0.835 to 0.943, indicating high internal consistency for each domain. Group comparisons revealed that the Full Assessment group scored the highest, the No Concern group scored the lowest, and the Watch and See group scored in between. The correlation between the categorical results of the First Screen and the standardized test was moderate to strong with Cramer’s V of .436. Sensitivity reached an adequate level (0.81), while specificity was low (0.57). However, for the purpose of screening, high sensitivity is required, and a lower degree of specificity is tolerable (Bujang & Adnan, 2016).

Conclusions and Implications: First Screen is a reliable and valid screening tool to help identify students at risk for specific learning disabilities. Advantages to this tool are free access, ease of use, and availability in Hindi and English.


Screening tool, identification, early intervention, India, SLD

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