Methods: Data on CACI reliability and validity were collected from two federally-funded, parallel studies with children aged 4 to 10 years old taking place in the Western (n = 185) and Midwestern United States (n = 391). Internal consistency values for the 11 CACI subscales were calculated for each study by age cohort (i.e., less than 6 years old, 6 years or older). Correlations coefficients among subscales and between subscales and measures of external validity (i.e., parent, teacher, and staff reports of subscale constructs) were also calculated and patterns of concordance and discordance were analyzed.
Results: Except for the Neglect and Hygiene subscale, internal consistency values for other subscales were acceptable for older children, with a range of .64 to .81. For younger children, internal consistency values were also acceptable, ranging from 0.62 to 0.81, with the exceptions of the School Experience (α = 0.55 Western study population; α = 0.54 Midwestern study population) and Peer Relations (α = 0.51 Western study population; α = 0.57 Midwestern study population) subscales. Validity data for all CACI subscales were mixed but, in general, there was a pattern of support for the Externalizing Behavior, Internalizing Behavior, Peer Relations, Parental Discipline, and Parent-Child Attachment subscales.
Conclusions and Implications: The CACI is a promising tool for obtaining reliable and valid self-report data from young children. Among the CACI's many advantages are its portability, ease of use, and appealing design. Prior to broad-based implementation, however, researchers and practitioners need to have a thoughtful discussion about these and other advantages in light of the potential ramifications of the growing use of computer-assisted assessment tools.