Sentinel Schools Project

About the Project

The Sentinel Schools Project (SSP) is a research project conducted by University of Oregon (UO) researchers at the Center on Teaching and Learning (CTL). Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for strategic research partnerships between DIBELS Data System (DDS) schools and the UO. Sentinel Schools help us to learn more about the schools represented in the DIBELS Data System and to pilot new and innovative research projects in real-world (i.e., school-based) settings.

The SSP is guided by a public health model of Sentinel Institution Research, which organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control employ. Sentinel institution research includes the following key features:

  • Strategic sampling of institutions within a large population
  • Documentation of important trends in demographic characteristics and procedural implementation
  • New data collection that affords opportunities for advanced analysis options and examination of national trends
  • Opportunities to implement specialized procedures in real-world settings.

162 schools across the United States have been Sentinel School Research Partners with the UO.

Project Benefits

What are the benefits to schools that participate?

Sentinel Schools that complete required project activities are eligible for incentives that can include gift certificates for teachers, stipends for school or district coordinators, discounts on DDS services for the year following SSP participation, and free professional development opportunities.

What are the benefits of the SSP to users of the DIBELS Data System?

Sentinel Schools provide valuable data regarding the use and effectiveness of DIBELS assessments. The partnership of CTL’s researchers and Sentinel Schools have resulted in a number of findings that will serve to inform and improve the way that the DIBELS Data System provides resources and support in making informed decisions for students. Data from Sentinel Schools has been used to:

  1. Obtain updated, system-wide norms for DIBELS Next and DIBELS 6th.
  2. Document the reliability and validity of DIBELS Next with a nationally-representative sample of students and the Stanford Achievement Test—10th edition.
  3. Outline necessary improvements to the DDS and DIBELS reporting that will make using DIBELS easier for schools.
  4. Create new recommended cut scores for the Need for Support instructional recommendations: Technical Brief: Benchmark Goals.
  5. “Unbundle” the composite score with the result that it is no longer required for all DIBELS assessments to be administered: Technical Brief: Composite Score.

Additionally, results of the teacher and principal surveys indicate that:

  1. Additional resources are needed in order to implement and use DIBELS assessments with fidelity — particularly for response to intervention.
  2. Schools are confident in their data collector training procedures and practices to promote reliable data collection.