Academic journal article School Psychology Review

A Reliability and Validity Study of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills-Modified

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

A Reliability and Validity Study of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills-Modified

Article excerpt

Abstract. This study examined the psychometric properties of a set of preliteracy measures modified from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) with a sample of 75 kindergarten students. The modified battery (called DIBELS-M) includes measures of Letter Naming Fluency, Sound Naming Fluency, Initial Phoneme Ability, and Phonemic Segmentation Ability. These measures were assessed through repeated administrations in 2-week intervals at the end of the kindergarten year. Interrater reliability estimates and coefficients of stability and equivalence for three of the measures ranged from .80 to the mid .90s with about one-half of the coefficients above .90. Correlations between DIBELSM scores and criterion measures of phonological awareness, standardized achievement measures, and teacher ratings of achievement yielded concurrent validity coefficients ranging from .60 to .70. Hierarchical regression analysis showed that the four DIBELS-M measures accounted for 73% of the variance in scores on the Skills Cluster of the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery--Revised (WJ-R). The results of the analysis support the use of the DIBELS-M measures for identification of kindergarten students who are at-risk for reading failure and for progress monitoring. The contributions of the study, including psychometric analysis of the DIBELS-M with a new sample and formation of composite scores, are discussed in relation to the extant literature.

Within the current climate of school reform initiatives, alternative assessment methods have been widely promoted in the field of education (Bagnato, Neisworth, & Munson, 1989; Miller, 1995). This pressure for changes in the nature of assessments has grown from the assumption that good assessment is an integral part of good instruction and that conventional child assessments do not yield instructionally relevant information (Herman, Aschbacher, & Winters, 1992). The pressure for changes in assessment practices for very young children has been more pronounced than for older school-aged students because of the limited technical adequacy of current developmental and readiness instruments (Drieling & Copeland, 1988; Meisels, Wiske, & Tivnan; 1984; Tramontana, Hooper, & Selzer, 1988).

This emphasis on the inseparability of curriculum and assessment and the premise that assessment activities should contribute to instructional improvement has raised major challenges for educational measurement. Many of the alternative assessment methods have not been evaluated for technical adequacy or have yielded low reliability and/or validity estimates (Koretz, Stecher, Klein, & McCaffrey, 1994; Linn & Baker, 1996; Moss, 1992; Shavelson, Baxter, & Pine, 1992). Performance-based assessment, student portfolios, authentic assessment, curriculum-based assessment, and curriculum-based measurement have all been described in the literature and used by school psychologists as forms of alternative assessment (Shinn, 1995). However, considerable variability remains in the technical attributes and feasibility of implementation for these instruments (Burstein, 1994; Lane, Stone, Ankenmann, & Liu, 1992).

Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) is one of the few alternative forms of assessment where an impressive body of data supports the technical adequacy and the practical application of these techniques in the assessment of young children (Deno, 1985; Deno & Fuchs, 1987; Fuchs, Deno, & Mirkin, 1984; Fuchs & Fuchs, 1997; Germann & Tindal, 1985; Marston & Magnusson, 1985; Shinn, 1989). School psychologists have used curriculum-based measurement as a form of performance assessment that features measurement of student proficiency across core areas of the curriculum. Curriculum-based measures were developed and standardized in order to facilitate frequent, ongoing assessment of basic skills and formative evaluation of student progress. …

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