Using the UO Recommended Benchmark Goals to Make Screening Decisions

Questions & Answers

Q1: Can you provide more information about the Problem-Solving model?

The Problem-Solving model is a procedural model for decision-making in education (for a recent discussion, see Shinn, 2008). Problem-solving steps include (a) an empirical definition and validation of a need for student support, (b) an initial plan for that support, which is linked to assessment results, and (c) a systematic evaluation of the plan through progress monitoring. Instructional design and placement decisions for students are based on the data gathered in those first steps as well as available resources. Instructional support plans are implemented and evaluated on an ongoing basis. Throughout the school year instructional plan adjustments are made based on progress monitoring and benchmarking data.

The Problem-Solving model has been adapted and incorporated into Response to Instruction (RtI) models. You can view the full webinar presentation about the problem-solving model and its relation to DIBELS. You can also check out the following references for more in-depth information.

Ball,C., & Christ,T. (2012). Supporting valid decision making: Uses and misuses of assessment data within the context of RTI. Psychology in the Schools, 49(3), 231-244

Bolt, S.,E. (2005). Reflections on practice within the Heartland Problem-Solving Model: The perceived value of direct assessment of student needs. The California School Psychologist, 10, 65-79.

Deno, S. L. (1989). Curriculum-based measurement and alternative special education services: A fundamental and direct relationship. In M. R. Shinn (Ed.), Curriculum-based measurement: Assessing special children (pp. 1– 17). New York: Guilford Press.

Deno, S. (2005). Problem-solving assessment. In R. Brown-Chidsey (Ed.). Assessment for intervention: A problem-solving approach (pp. 10-40). New York: Guilford Publications.

Shinn, M. R. (2008). Best Practices in Using Curriculum-Based Measurement in a problem-solving model. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.) Best Practices in School Psychology-V, (pp. 243-262), Washington, DC: NASP.

Q2: What are the primary DIBELS Next measures for each grade and time period?

There are three primary measures: First Sound Fluency (FSF), Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), and Oral Reading Fluency (ORF).

We want to encourage users to think about the original intention of DIBELS and other types of Curriculum-Based Measures: which is to (a) accurately and efficiently identify a need for support and (b) provide instructionally relevant information about student performance that can be used to plan instructional support. In the “primary measure” approach, we are returning to the roots of DIBELS, and recommending that all the required measures are considered for screening and instructional planning.

One measure per assessment period is designated as the Primary measure. The DIBELS Data System Class and Grade List Reports are automatically sorted according to the primary measure for each grade and time period.

FSF, a measure of phonemic awareness, is the primary measure at the beginning of Kindergarten. Developing students’ phonemic awareness is an important focus of instruction early on in Kindergarten.

NWF-CLS is the primary measure from the middle of Kindergarten through the beginning of first grade. This emphasis on NWF-CLS highlights the instructional goals of phonological awareness and the alphabetic principle during that time period.

ORF-WRC is the primary measure from the end of first grade through the end of sixth grade. Building fluency and comprehension in reading connected text is an essential focus of instruction during this time period.

Q3: What is the best report at the beginning of year? At the end of year?

The best report depends on the question you are trying to answer. When a classroom teacher is creating instructional groups, the Class List Report is probably the most useful report. A principal working with teachers to set grade level goals may find the Summary Report or Distribution Report the best. The Summary of Effectiveness reports are very helpful when measuring growth of individual students or evaluating systems of support at a grade, school or district level. Please contact us directly for help in choosing a report to meet your needs. We are here to support you!

Q4: You mentioned explicit and differentiated reading instruction. Where can I find more information on this?

Explicit instruction describes instructional delivery that includes, (a) clearly stated learning objectives, (b) teacher explanations and models, (c) teacher-led practice opportunities, and (d) direct and specific feedback on student responses. Differentiated instruction describes instructional grouping tailored to student need in a specific content area. Providing explicit instruction is one way to differentiate your instruction but there are other ways such as modulating the instructional group size, the frequency of the instruction, and the length of each instructional period.

The following websites, books, and article can provide you with more information about explicit and differentiated instruction.



Archer, A. L. & Hughes, C. A. (2011). Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Gibson, V. & Hasbrouck, J. (2008). Differentiated Instruction: Grouping for Success. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.


Denton, C. A. (2012). Response to Intervention for Reading Difficulties in the Primary Grades: Some Answers and Lingering Questions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45(3), 232-243.

Q5: How do I select the DIBELS Next Recommended or Former goals on my DDS report?

You can use the Need for Support drop down menus to select the Recommended or Former Goals when creating a report on the DIBELS Data System. The Recommended Goals are set as the default option, but you can change that on your account using the “Set Personal Preferences” feature. A district or school-level user can also set the default for the entire district or school using the “Set District-Wide Preferences” or “Set School-Wide Preferences” features. Please contact us if you have any questions about how to use these features.