Literacy assessments significant disabilities
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Literacy Assessments: Significant Disabilities. Presented by: Janet Cornelius, Louisiana Department of Education Nanette Olivier, Louisiana Department of Education Dr. Caroline Musselwhite, Consultant AAC Intervention. March 23, 2009. Webinar Objectives.

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Literacy Assessments: Significant Disabilities

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Literacy Assessments:Significant Disabilities

Presented by:

Janet Cornelius, Louisiana Department of Education

Nanette Olivier, Louisiana Department of Education

Dr. Caroline Musselwhite, Consultant

AAC Intervention

March 23, 2009

Webinar Objectives

  • Provide overview of literacy assessment requirements for students with significant disabilities in the Ensuring Literacy for All Schools.

  • Review the use of 2 assessment tools for these students.

    • DIBELS

    • Bridge

  • Provide information on resources available to support the assessments.

Who are these students?

  • Students with significant and often complex disabilities

  • Intellectual, communication, sensory, social/behavioral and motor impairments

  • Participate in LAA1

  • Have typically been left out of the “literacy loop”

    The school-wide literacy plan must include the needs of these students!

Significant Disabilities Access Guide Web Site


  • Literacy section on the left hand navigational tool bar

Program AssurancesEnsuring Literacy for ALL Schools

  • School-wide literacy plan

  • Core reading instruction time

  • Extended time for Tiers II and III

  • Literacy Coach role

  • Benchmark screening assessments

  • SBRR intervention and progress monitoring

7. Collaborative planning time

8.-11. Support PD

  • Collaboration with teacher ed. college

  • District-level literacy team

  • Collaboration amongst partners

  • Procure & allocate resources

  • Funding

  • SIP has literacy as primary focus

Who is responsible for implementation of assessments for students with significant disabilities?

  • Reading coach

  • Special education teacher

  • Certified interventionist

  • Speech pathologist

  • Pupil appraisal

  • Must be a certified/licensed person!!

  • Technical assistance (AT Center, LDE)




Inventories, etc.

Handout: QIL

Use Standard Procedures If Possible

Example: DIBELS

  • developed / supported by University of Oregon & Dynamic Measurement Group

  • administered individually

  • set of tests used a various age levels

  • provides national and district benchmarks to be used as goals and indicators

Sample ModificationsAge of Student

“It may be appropriate for monitoring the progress of older children with very low skills in phonological awareness.” (p. 10).

However, comparing to benchmarks would not be valid.

DIBELS Approved Accommodations

Administration & Scoring Guide, p. 47

Sample Significant ModificationsMeans of Indicating

Ex: Initial Sound Fluency

Goal: Student is asked to indicate (point or say) the picture showing the target sound.

Modification: Student uses a eye gaze or a headstick to make the selection. If the response is quick and clear, just make a note of the modification.

Concerns: If the response speed is slow, benchmarks will not be valid.

Comments: May still be useful to see student progress across time.

Eye Gaze Frame

  • • purchased, or

  • • home-made

  • • may be made of:

  • Plexiglas

  • PVC piping

  • • affix pics with velcro

Trade Card Holder

• center cut out

(to read eye gaze)

• photos in pockets

or taped on

• student looks to

choose answer

• or, partner assisted

eye gaze (‘this one?

… this one?)

Sample Significant ModificationsMode of Communicating

Ex: Initial Sound Fluency

Goal: Student is asked to tell the sound a word begins with (“What sound does ‘clock’ begin with?”).

Modification: Student uses a phoneme page on a speech output device (note in literacy folder!)

Concerns: This changes the task difficulty (making in more difficult) and likely changes the speed Thus, benchmarks will not be valid.

Comments: May still be useful to see student progress across time.

When to Try

Alternate Assessments


Background: developed for NC preschoolers

Emergent Literacy: observing literacy for real purposes; ‘trying out’ beginning understandings of print; strong link between oral and written language development

Evidence-Based Reading Research (EBRR): focus on specific skills such as phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, etc.

Based on The Literacy Pyramid

THE BRIDGEPierce, Summer, O’DeKirk, in progress

Foundations of Reading (book knowledge, print awareness, etc)

Foundations of Writing (motor, cognitive-linguistic)

Alphabet Knowledge

Phonological/Phonemic Awareness

Oral Language (related to literacy)

BRIDGE: Foundations of Reading

BRIDGE: Foundations of Writing

BRIDGE: Alphabet Knowledge

BRIDGE: Phonological / Phonemic Awareness

BRIDGE: Oral Language(Related to Literacy Activities)

BRIDGE: Other Information

BRIDGE: Other Information(Language Sample, MLU, Sentence Structures)


More support,


Bridge Guide


Download this

19-page guide

full of examples!

Bridge Training PowerPoint

90 Items, with specific examples


  • LA DOE website for significant disabilities

  • Flowchart (at website)

  • Assessment Tools Chart (at website)

  • BRIDGE (links from Assessment Tools Chart)

Action Plan??

  • Talk to Literacy Coach for your school?

  • Pick 5 students to assess in March?

  • Make an eye-gaze frame to use with DIBELS?

  • Download BRIDGE?

  • Other ideas???

Next Steps

  • Archived webinar

  • March 30 webinar

  • April 27 Annual Literacy Celebration

  • April 28-29 – related presentations at the Annual Literacy and Numeracy Conference

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