Schoolwide DIBELS Testing


The teachers and administrators at Norwayne Elementary School are committed to helping your child become a successful reader.  As part of this commitment, our school has chosen to use a test called DIBELS to help us examine how your child is doing in learning important reading skills.


DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.  DIBELS tests skills that are necessary for learning to read.  Children who learn these skills become good readers.  The skills are:


  • Phonemic Awareness: Hearing and using sounds in spoken words

-What is the first sound in the word "cat"? (/k/)

-What are the sounds in the word "cat"? (/k/ /a/ /t/)

  • Alphabetic Principle: Knowing the sounds of the letters and sounding out written words

-What are the names of the letters? (in random order; upper and lower case)

-What sounds do the letters make? (in random, 3-letter, nonsense words)

  • Accurate and Fluent Reading: Reading texts easily and quickly with few mistakes

-How many words read correctly in an amount of time (words per minute; error percentages)

  • Comprehension: Understanding what is spoken or read

-What is the correct missing word to finish the sentence (context)


DIBELS is made up of short individual tests, called subtests.  Each DIBELS subtest focuses on a different skill and takes about one minute to do.  Your child may be given two to five of the DIBELS subtests depending on his or her grade level.  Our school tests all students individually three times a year (fall, winter, and spring).


Each DIBELS subtest takes only about one minute to do because they are used as indicators.  Much like using a thermometer to take a child's temperature is an indicator of overall health, each subtest is an indicator of how well a child is doing in learning a particular early reading skill.  DIBELS is used with millions of children through the United States.  A child's score on a subtest tells us whether the child is likely to be "on track" for learning to read, or whether that child may need some help in learning important reading skills.  Your child's teacher will use the DIBELS test (along with additional classroom data) to determine their focus for small group intervention time.


DIBELS is used to identify children who may need extra help to become good readers and check up on those children while they receive the extra help to make sure they are making progress.  Your child may spend additional small group time with the reading specialist who will also use DIBELS to monitor your child's weekly growth depending on the reading skill.  DIBELS will never be used to grade your child.


We are working hard to make sure that every child is on target for success, and we thank you for your efforts at home.  Together, we will help your child become a successful reader.