Assessment Information


Dynamic Indicators of

Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills.

The measures were developed upon the essential early literacy domains discussed in both the National Reading Panel (2000) and National Research Council (1998) reports to assess student development of phonological awareness, alphabetic understanding, and automaticity and fluency with the code. Each measure has been thoroughly researched and demonstrated to be reliable and valid indicators of early literacy development and predictive of later reading proficiency to aid in the early identification of students who are not progressing as expected. When used as recommended, the results can be used to evaluate individual student development as well as provide grade-level feedback toward validated instructional objectives.

What are DIBELS?

Which skills do the DIBELS measures assess?

  • The DIBELS measures were specifically designed to assess 3 of the 5 Big Ideas of early literacy: Phonological Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, and Fluency with Connected Text. The measures are linked to one another, both psychometrically and theoretically, and have been found to be predictive of later reading proficiency.
  • Measures of Phonological Awareness:
    • Initial Sounds Fluency (ISF): Assesses a child"s skill to identify and produce the initial sound of a given word.
    • Phonemic Segmentation Fluency (PSF): Assesses a child"s skill to produce the individual sounds within a given word.
  • Measure of Alphabetic Principle:
    • Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF): Assesses a child"s knowledge of letter-sound correspondences as well their ability to blend letters together to form unfamiliar "nonsense" (e.g., fik, lig, etc.) words.
  • Measure of Fluency with Connected Text:
    • Oral Reading Fluency (ORF): Assesses a child"s skill of reading connected text in grade-level material word.
These measures link together to form an assessment system of early literacy development that allows educators to readily and reliably determine student progress. The most researched, efficient and standardized measure of reading proficiency is Oral Reading Fluency. It is the culminating measure of the DIBELS assessment system. The ORF measure has students read an unfamiliar passage of grade-level material for one minute. The final score is the number of words read correctly in that minute. With this robust measure, we can readily determine how a student"s reading development is progressing and whether that student is on the path to becoming a proficient and fluent reader.
Benchmark Goal Levels by Grade and Measure

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