Schoolwide Model: Assessment

In the Schoolwide Model, schools use a valid and reliable schoolwide assessment system to monitor progress in the early grades.


Critical Elements of a Schoolwide Assessment System

  • Assessment linked to big ideas

    • Like goals, assessment must be aligned with what is important in beginning reading.
  • Schoolwide assessment system established and maintained

    • In the Schoolwide model, DIBELS, or the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, are used as the foundation of a consistent and coordinated schoolwide assessment system.
  • Assessment used to monitor progress for all students 3 times per year

    • This enables effective early identification of students experiencing reading difficulties and allows for coordinated prevention and early intervention efforts as well as evaluating class and schoolwide progress.

A Schoolwide Assessment System should meet these criteria to maximize utility:

  • Reliable and valid indicators of skills highly associated with early reading success
  • Provide "vital signs" of growth and development
  • Sensitive to small changes over time
  • Simple, quick, cost effective measures that are easily repeatable for continuous progress monitoring

Each DIBELS measure has a two-part goal: How much / How well? & By when?

This corresponds to a measurable criterion. For example, for the 6th Edition Oral Reading Fluency measure, a student should score 47 correct words per minute by the end of first grade. The benchmark goals, based on research, predict future reading success. If a student reaches a benchmark goal by the specified time point, we can predict that they will successfully meet the next benchmark goal. The table below shows some example benchmark goals for DIBELS 6th Edition measures.

Measure How Much? By When?
Phoneme Segmentation Fluency 33 or more Middle of Kindergarten
Nonsense Word Fluency 71 or more End of First Grade
Oral Reading Fluency 47 or more 1st Grade: End of Year
96 or more 2nd Grade: End of Year
110 or more 3rd Grade: End of Year
114 or more 4th Grade: End of Year
127 or more 5th Grade: End of Year
122 or more 6th Grade: End of Year

Access the complete DIBELS benchmark goals for grades K - 6.


Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring is a key component of providing differentiated and individualized reading instruction.

Students experiencing reading difficulties should have their reading progress monitored more frequently than students who are making acceptable progress.

  • Performance should be monitored frequently for all students who are at risk of reading difficulty
  • Data should be used to make instructional decisions

Example of a progress monitoring schedule:

Students at low risk: Monitor progress three times a year
Students at some risk: Monitor progress every month
Students at high risk: Monitor progress every other week


Using data to make instructional decisions

Assessment and progress monitoring data provide the answers to the critical questions listed below. Because the answers to these questions have such important implications, they should be based on objective data.

Are we meeting our goals?

  • Did we do better this year than last year?
  • Is our core curriculum and instruction working for most students?

How do we match instructional resources to educational needs?

  • Which children need additional resources to be successful?
  • Which children need which skills?

How well is intervention/instruction working?

  • Is instruction working for some groups but not others?
  • Is intervention effective?

Are we meeting our goals?

The figure below is a type of graph called a cross year box plot. It shows DIBELS 6th Edition performance in 3rd grade across 2 years. In this example, performance is about the same for each school year. During the 2nd year (orange) the lowest performing students were closer to meeting the benchmark goal than the previous year. This is represented by the bottom of the box plot and the bottom whisker being higher on the graph.



How do we match instructional resources to educational needs?

Another way to display reading data is a class list (shown below). This class list displays 4th grade DIBELS Next data from the middle of year assessment period. It includes Oral Reading Fluency- words correct, Oral Reading Fluency- accuracy and Daze scores.

Class list reports can help answer questions like:

  • Which children need additional resources to be successful?
  • Which children need which skills?
  • How are the students in my class doing compared to benchmark goals?

How well is intervention/instruction working?

Another way to display reading data is an individual student's progress monitoring chart (below). This progress monitoring data displays an individual student's results on the DIBELS Phoneme Segmentation Fluency measure administered multiple times between January and April of kindergarten. The bulls eye is the benchmark goal for this measure.

This progress monitoring data can help answer questions like:

  • Is this student making enough progress to reach the benchmark goal?
  • Is instruction benefiting this student? Is it effective enough?
  • Is intervention effective?
  • Should intervention be intensified?

NEXT: Instruction


The Schoolwide Model

Download a PDF version of the Introduction to the Schoolwide Model