These are my DIBELS scores from the 4th day of school. Look pretty good don’t they. The biggest problem was that it was the 4th day of school. The second biggest problem is that my school wanted me to use these scores to drive instruction. They gave me a break too. They said I didn’t have to progress monitor the strategic or benchmark kids until January. So basically, the Intensive kids are the focus…….. Only one problem with that. My TRUE intensive kids aren’t really in the intensive group as based on these scores. Only one of them is, the second one down. This child is a non-English speaking Hispanic child and consistently scores low.
FOUR other intensive kids are down in the middle of the strategic group. How did they get there? They made some good guesses or got lucky on maybe one or two questions on the Initial Sound Fluency test. That test has 16 questions that go something like this. (looking at 4 pictures ) Pointing to each one, “These are star, flower, letters, and goat. Which one begins with /g/? ” Three like that and one like this, “What sound does flowers begin with?” This assessment is timed, and scored based on a formula that uses the amount of time and the number of correct responses to arrive at a score. Shorter time = higher score. I had one little boy who would point to ANY picture just as soon as you finished asking (which stops the clock until the next question) but had NO IDEA about sound/word relationships. He STILL has no phonemic awareness. Interestingly, almost all of the kids that scored zeros on the Letter Naming Fluency are my true Intensive kids. But ONE test is not a reliable indicator. The bottom kid in the intensive group (the one with 2 zeros) has benchmarked on his ISF and knows almost all of his letters, upper and lower case and almost all of his sounds.
I LIKE DIBELS, I just think it’s not being used correctly at my school. As a teacher, I need to be able to adjust my groups based on ON GOING assessments. Subsequent progress monitoring, not required by the school, but done by me, supports my assessment of the ability levels of these kids. But my school and my district continue to ask about and require specific interventions for the original 4 kids, not the group that REALLY needs it. I was told that I couldn’t adjust my groups, at least not that bottom one.