Last week I went to a two day training period for DIBELS Next. DIBELS Next is an assessment program for early readers. It stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.
We learned how to deliver every part of the test for every level. Typically the assessment is given 3 times a year: the beginning, the middle, and the end. Different levels are given different parts of the test. Teachers are able to Progress Monitor children who don't meet benchmarks. The best part? All the materials are available online for free.
The tough part? It takes about 10 minutes per child at my level. The tests are given individually. The tricky part is finding time to do this while keeping up with all our classroom responsibilities.
But it's a wealth of information! This is the first time in years our school district has used any kind of assessment that is standardized. The older children have the state mandated tests, starting in third grade, and we've had the unit tests from the reading program we use. DIBELS will be giving us specific information concerning what our students know (or don't know) about reading.
Why is this good? Because it tells us specifically what we need to teach the children! (I suspect you already knew this!) With all the testing we've been forced to do over the past few years, it's a pleasure to have an assessment tool that helps us figure out what we need to do.
DIBELS doesn't necessarily tell us what to do to raise the scores, but there are tons of resources, many of which we explored through the 2 day training.
So, I've started Dabbling in DIBELS. During the last couple of days, I've Dibbled 4 of my students. It's a little late for the beginning of the year baseline, and a little early for the midyear assessment, but I'm just practicing giving the test. (And getting information about my kids!) Honestly, there's not really anything I didn't already know about these kids, but it's valid information that I can bring up at meetings and share with parents.