DIBELS testing explained! How reading fluency passages evaluate and drive instruction and indicate a need for academic interventions.
DIBELS was developed by Dr. Roland Good from the Dynamic Measurement Group. It is a standardized, individually administered measure of early literacy development that is given 3 times (Benchmark Periods) throughout the academic year. Progress monitoring is used between DIBELS testing to ensure interventions are working.
We know from research that 1 out of 8 children not reading at grade level by the end of first grade will never read on grade level (Juel, 1994).
The US Literacy Rate is at number 27 in the world, out of 205 rated countries and the NAAL (National Assessment of Adult Literacy) estimates that 14% of US residents have extreme difficulty with reading.
The assessment is now called DIBELS Next, and it provides educators insights as to WHY errors are happening and then points to specific literacy lesson plans and RTI information that can be used.
Our literacy lesson plans need to be targeted and systematically delivered, and these type of assessments give us the background information to begin making strategic plans to help kids.
Remember though, DIBELS tesing is not diagnostic. It is a screening measure but can clearly point to possible roadblocks for literacy development. DIBELS Next is a tool to help us identify and strategically intervene before students become part of the low US literacy rate statistic.
Without specific academic interventions, these students will continue to be at risk readers.
These are the skills identified by DIBELS Next as essential for beginning readers to master:
1. Phonemic Awareness (Identification and manipulation of parts of words)
2. Alphabetic Principle
3. Accuracy and Fluency
How does DIBELS testing relate to the Five Big Ideas?
The first two are tests of emergent literacy activities and skills.
1. Phonemic Awareness = DIBELS Next First Sound Fluency, DIBELS Next Phoneme Segmentation Fluency
2. Phonics = DIBELS Next Nonsense Word Fluency test
3. Accuracy and Fluency = DIBELS Next Oral Reading Fluency test
4. Vocabulary = No measure but a key component of teaching reading to children
5. Comprehension = DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency test and DAZE test
Fluency Leads to Comprehension
Word recognition, or fluency, is essential to excellent comprehension. Although being able to identify words and read them quickly is not the goal of reading (making meaning is), it is only once words are decoded automatically that reading can become an easy and enjoyable process.
The components described here are part of the changes in the DIBELS Next measures.
These changes do not impact the use of DIBELS for screeners,
benchmarking and progress monitoring. What they do, however, is improve
the readability levels, incorporate new validity and reliability data,
are more user friendly, utilize response patterns, and have an improved
font for primary readers.
First Sound Fluency
Phoneme Segmentation Fluency
Letter Naming Fluency
Nonsense Word Fluency
DORF: DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency
Data from both of these should be used to gain RTI information, plan appropriate interventions and develop progress monitoring.
You can find more information about using DIBELS Next at DIBELS.org.