Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)
DIBELS are a set of procedures and measures for assessing the acquisition of early literacy skills from kindergarten through sixth grade. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of early literacy and early reading skills.
DIBELS were developed to measure recognized and empirically validated skills related to reading outcomes. Each measure has been thoroughly researched and demonstrated to be reliable and valid indicators of early literacy development and predictive of later reading proficiency to aid in the early identification of students who are not progressing as expected. When used as recommended, the results can be used to evaluate individual student development as well as provide grade-level feedback toward validated instructional objectives.
DIBELS were developed based on measurement procedures for Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM), which were created by Deno and colleagues through the Institute for Research and Learning Disabilities at the University of Minnesota in the 1970s-80s (e.g., Deno and Mirkin, 1977; Deno, 1985; Deno and Fuchs, 1987; Shinn, 1989). Like CBM, DIBELS were developed to be economical and efficient indicators of a student's progress toward achieving a general outcome.
Initial research on DIBELS was conducted at the University of Oregon in the late 1980s. Since then, an ongoing series of studies on DIBELS has documented the reliability and validity of the measures as well as their sensitivity to student change. The DIBELS authors were motivated then, as now, by the desire to improve educational outcomes for children, especially those from poor and diverse backgrounds. Research on DIBELS continues at Dynamic Measurement Group (DMG) and at numerous universities and research institutions around the world.
The DIBELS measures were specifically designed to assess the Big Ideas of early literacy: Phonological Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, Fluency with Connected Text, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. The measures are linked to one another, both psychometrically and theoretically, and have been found to be predictive of later reading proficiency. Combined, the measures form an assessment system of early literacy development that allows educators to readily and reliably determine student progress.