Effectiveness of Dibels

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Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Validity and its Relationship with Reading Comprehension Introduction to Research

Reading fluency is considered an integral component of the reading process and it has a big presence in the classroom. Its importance became evident since the National Reading Panel (2000) pronounced fluency instruction and assessment an essential and was thus incorporated into the reading First guidelines of No Child Left Behind in 2002 (Shelton, Altwerger, &Jordan, 2009). Reading fluency has been defined in many ways; an outcome of decoding and comprehension, a contributor to both decoding and comprehension, the ability to recognize words rapidly and accurately, the connections readers make between the natural phrasing when speaking and the phrasal segmentation when orally reading, among others (Abadiano &Turner, 2005). Nevertheless, Roehrig, Petscher, Nettles, Hudson and Torgesen (2008) state that perhaps fluency is best defined as having three main components, word recognition accuracy, automaticity, and prosody. Reading with accuracy is the student’s ability to read with few or no errors. Reading with automaticity is the students’ ability to recognize words quickly with little effort; quantifying the students’ reading rate. Prosody is the students’ ability to read with expression such as suing intonation, stress patterns, and phrasing. Due to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Reading First program, which requires that validated standardized reading fluency assessments be used to progress monitor and identify any readers that might not be making sufficient progress to be at grade level, the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) is one of the few empirically validated assessments to progress monitor fluency (Roehring et al, 2008). The purpose of this literature review is to explore the validity of DIBELS and its relationship with reading comprehension.

Students who demonstrate prereading skill deficits often fall even further behind in later elementary years. Alternately, students who master essential reading skills in primary grades are able to maintain progress in later educational years. According to Goffreda, James, and Pedersen (2009) this is known as the Matthew Effect, in which the “rich get richer, while the poor get poorer”. They furthermore state that not only does illiteracy limit school success throughout the life span but that it is also associated with social problems such as school dropout, incarceration, and homelessness (Gofreda, James, & Pederson, 2009). It is this realization, along with the National Reading Panel’s recommendations, that led to the focus on early identification and precursors, such as DIBELS, in order to identify early literacy interventions. The National Institute for Literacy recommended DIBELS as a scientifically researched based assessment and thus DIBELS was adopted in many states (Shelton, Altwerger, & Jordan, 2009). Furthermore, early literacy individual growth and development indicators (EL-IGDIs) are also being put in place for pre-kindergarten children in some states (McCormick & Haack, 2011). Geofrada, James, and Pederson (2009) state that first grade has been identified as a particular critical period since the probability (88 percent) of poor readers remain so until fourth grade or higher grades. They found DIBELS indicators scores were predictive of district and state standardized exams. Gonzales, Vannest, and Reid (2008) conducted a study to discriminate the usefulness of first grade DIBELS to populations other than the general population, more specifically to students identified or at risk for emotional and behavior disorders. The researchers in this study found that DIBELS are efficient and effective for identification of at-risk students for populations other than general education students. In concurrence with these studies, Scheffel, Lefly, and Houser (2012) found...
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