Published: 15-05-2011, 14:09

DIBELS (“dibbels”) - American Education

An acronym for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, a set of tests to screen students in kindergarten and grades 1, 2 and 3 for potential reading problems and to monitor reading progress. Developed by researchers at the University of Oregon, the short DIBELS test is administered annually to determine whether schools receiving grants from the $1 billion-a-year federal READING FIRST program are making progress in raising student reading proficiency to grade level. Test data not only identifies students at risk of failure but also identifies and holds responsible the schools that are putting those students at risk. Easy to use, reliable and valid, DIBELS measures skills such as letter naming, letter-sound recognition, “sounding out” syllables and words, and read-aloud fluency. Some critics contend that speed of reading— especially so-called nonsense words—does not measure comprehension, but researchers insist that students ability to decode and pronounce nonsense words is a valid predictor of whether they will ultimately develop reading difficulties. Adopted under the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT—itself a 2001 revision and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965—the Reading First program is designed to introduce skills-based reading instruction in struggling and failing schools. Although DIBELS is but one of many evaluation tools, more than 8,200 schools in 2,600 districts across the United States—about onethird of all school districts—were using the program in 2005 at cost of $1 per student.


(Students in kindergarten and third grade sound out these nonsense words in the DIBELS test to measure their skills in decoding letters and syllables.)
DIBELS (“dibbels”)