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Early Reading Assessments. Cynthia Cafiero and Jeannine Contreras. Introduction. There are two types of assessments for Early Reading: CBM-Curriculum Based Measurement-DIBELS NR-Norm Referenced-Qualitative Reading Inventory-3. DIBELS. What is it?

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early reading assessments

Early Reading Assessments

Cynthia Cafiero


Jeannine Contreras

  • There are two types of assessments for Early Reading:

CBM-Curriculum Based Measurement-DIBELS

NR-Norm Referenced-Qualitative Reading Inventory-3

  • What is it?
  • DIBELS- Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills
  • Developed by Roland Good III-an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Oregon and Ruth Kaminski
  • They are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development.
  • They are used to monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills.
  • There are 6 different areas tested throughout Pre-K to 3rd grade
dibels areas assessed
DIBELSAreas Assessed
  • ISF- Initial Sound Fluency
  • LNF- Letter Naming Fluency
  • PSF- Phoneme Segmentation Fluency
  • NWF- Nonsense Word Fluency
  • ORF- DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency
  • WUF- Word Use Fluency
dibels how is it used
DIBELSHow is it used?
  • Benchmark Expectations
  • Clarifying the Problem and Tracking Improvements
  • Scoring
dibels why use it
DIBELSWhy use it?
  • With the new state initiatives funded through Reading Excellence, Title 1, School Improvement, and Reading First grants, many school districts are required to demonstrate improvement among those students identified as “at risk” for reading failure. Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), is a tool designed to assess student development in literacy in grades K-3. Specifically, it looks at students’ performance in the areas of phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, and fluency with connected text. DIBELS meets criteria as an effective, research-based screening tool for assessing growth in early literacy.(www.sopriswest.com)
• Alabama

• Arizona

• Arkansas

• California

• American Samoa

• Colorado

• Florida

• Mississippi

• Utah

• Illinois

• Michigan

New Jersey

• New Mexico

• Pennsylvania

• Washington

• Oregon

• Iowa

• Hawaii

• Virginia

• Indiana

• Oklahoma

• Ohio


DIBELSWho’s using it?There are currently 25 states and territories that have been awarded Reading First funds. Most have written DIBELS into their grants. These states are as follows:

reading first dibels
Reading First

Phonemic Awareness






Initial Sound Fluency and Phoneme Segmentation Fluency

Nonsense Word Fluency

Letter Naming Fluency and Oral Reading Fluency

Word Use Fluency

Retelling Fluency

Reading First & DIBELS
advantages of using dibels
Advantages of using DIBELS
  • Scores are reliable
  • Administration is economical and efficient
  • Computer-based scoring
  • Repeated assessment is possible
  • Subtest content measures foundational reading skills established by research
  • DIBELS scores predict success or failure
  • Subtest scores are sensitive to small gains
  • Instructional goals are given for each grade and skill
  • Individuality in decision making is supported
  • Decision making about school systems is supported
  • Inexpensive in terms of time and resources
  • Simple and efficient to administer
disadvantages of using dibels
Disadvantages of using DIBELS
  • Encourages test preparation in the form of skills training.
  • Will not contribute to helping children learn to read
  • Children learn to read quickly and not for quality
  • Test can be downloaded by anyone
  • No research shown to be Valid
  • No research shown to be Reliable
  • Quick and easy (only bits and pieces of tasks)
  • No consistency in how the tests are scored
  • While administering the 1 minute tests the test giver must also watch a stop watch.
  • 3 must be done a year
  • Takes up instructional time
dibels research
  • Very little research that shows that DIBELS is an effective way of teaching pre-reading skills
  • There are many critics that are against Dibbling!
  • “If you want a test of whether kids can read fast with low comprehension, then DIBELS is great,” said G. Michael Pressleym a professor of education at Michigan State University and former editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology. “It is not as well developed as the claims that are being made.”
  • Natalie Rathvon, a Bethesda, Md-based consultant and the author of Early Reading Assessment: A Practitioner’s Handbook states that “the test are brief, replicable and relatively easy to administer.”
dibels modifications individualization
  • DIBELS assessment is individualized based on the fact that if a child is showing low scores the teacher can monitor their progress daily, weekly or monthly vs. the 3 times a year
  • Children who fall under the special education umbrella and have an IEP that does not follow curriculum based goals and objectives would not be eligible to be dibbled.
  • There are benchmarks that need to be met at each grade level in order to move on. These benchmarks are not based upon an individual child but children at a particular grade level.
  • There are no modifications that can be made that would not alter the outcome of the assessment.
the qualitative reading inventory 3
The Qualitative Reading Inventory-3
  • Created by Lauren Leslie and JoAnne Caldwell
  • Is an informal reading inventory
  • Assesses children from pre-k to high school
  • Is a norm-referenced assessment
  • Cognitive elements evaluated by this assessment are: Reading Comprehension, Background Knowledge, and Decoding
  • They suggest that the QRI can be used to estimate reading levels, suggest directions for instructional intervention, compile a profile of a students reading ability or monitor growth over time.
  • Whoever administers the assessment should be a decision maker – classroom teacher or reading specialist.
  • They should ask themselves “what do I want to know about this student?” then use components of QRI accordingly.
scores are broken up into 3 levels
Scores are broken up into 3 levels
  • Independent – The level a student can read & comprehend without assistance
  • Word id in isolation = 90%
  • Word id in context = 98%
  • Comprehension = 90%
  • Instructional - The level a student can be instructed profitably
  • Word id in isolation = 70-89%
  • Word id in context = 90-97% total accuracy
  • 95-97% total acceptability
  • Comprehension = 70-89%
  • Frustration – The level a student is completely unable to read with adequate
  • word identification or comprehension
  • Word id in isolation = less than 70%
  • Word id in context = less than 90% for total accuracy
  • Less than 95% for total acceptability
  • Comprehension= Less than 70%
administration of assessment
Administration of Assessment
  • A list of 20 words the child may see in the passages they read. The examiner scores whether the child identified the word automatically, identified, or was unable to identify.
  • There are passages the child can read from, some narrative in nature while others are expository.
  • Prior to the child reading the passage the examiner should ask the concept questions on their sheet.
  • The child reads the passage while the examiner notes the miscues.
  • The examiner asks the student to retell the story and uses the score sheet to see if the student has hit the main points. Note: this does not result in a “level” score.
  • Then specific questions about the text are asked. Questions can be implicit or explicit in nature. The lower grades usually use explicit questions.
pros cons

Price - $49.00

For $60.00 you can get a videotape

Can utilize certain parts of the assessment depending on your needs.

The authors are detailed in their explanation on the administration and scoring of the QRI.

Can monitor progress through high school.

The authors give scripts of what to say to the student prior to certain parts of the assessment.


Not curriculum based

May be time consuming, however, can be administered over several days.

Is an informal reading inventory.

  • Not much research on the effectiveness of the QRI
  • Abstract of a study found in The Reading Teacher states that informal reading inventories “can serve useful purposes in classroom-level assessment, but their proper role is as an initial screening instrument and must be followed up by more specific assessments in areas of concern designed to identify instructional needs.”
  • According to the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory inter-rater reliability measures were found to be in the .98 range and alternate form reliability measures were in the .90 range.
modifications individualization
Modifications/ Individualization
  • This assessment is administered individually; however, a student must have expressive language.
  • Since there are specific instruction on scoring this assessment, modification to its administration would change the accuracy of the results.
  • The Qualitative Reading Inventory – 3 Lauren Leslie and JoAnne Caldwell Publisher Longman 2001
  • www.sedl.org
  • Walpole, S; McKenna, M.C., – The Role of Informal Reading Inventories in assessing word Recognition, The Reading Teacher March 2006 592-594
  • www.reading.org

Articles written in Education Week www.edweek.org

Sopris West Educational Services www.sopriswest.com

NASP Publications www.nasponline.org

Homepage for DIBELS-Includes Technical Report www.dibels.uoregon.edu

Homepage of the Writers of DIBELS www.dynamicmeasurements.org

Books and articles written by Kenneth Goodman

dibels qri 3 summaries

Curriculum Based Measurement

Focuses on pre-reading skills that are needed to learn to read

Has major downfalls with regards to timing, techniques, reliability and validity.

Very quick and easy which teachers like but at the same time must be conducted 3 times a year.

In terms of special education, children that have IEPs that do not have curriculum based goals and objectives could NOT be tested.

You can find yourself teaching to a test vs. teaching content.


Is a norm-referenced assessment

Assesses children from pre-K to high school

Time consuming

NOT curriculum based

Informal reading inventory

DIBELS & QRI-3Summaries