Alphabetic Principle


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Assessing Alphabetic Understanding Using DIBELS measures

Alphabetic Principle skills can be assessed using standardized measures. The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment system provides a measure that can be used to assess students' understanding of the Alphabetic Principle. The Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) measure probes student knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and sounding out words. To learn more about the DIBELS assessment system, click here.

Nonsense Word Fluency

The DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) measure is a standardized, individually administered test of the alphabetic principle - including letter-sound correspondence and of the ability to blend letters into words in which letters represent their most common sounds (Kaminski & Good, 1996; see References).

The student is presented an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper with randomly ordered VC and CVC nonsense words (e.g., sig, rav, ov) and asked to produce verbally the individual letter sound of each letter or verbally produce, or read, the whole nonsense word.

For example, if the stimulus word is "vaj" the student could say /v/ /a/ /j/ or say the word /vaj/ to obtain a total of three letter-sounds correct. The student is allowed 1 minute to produce as many letter-sounds as he/she can, and the final score is the number of letter-sounds produced correctly in one minute. Because the measure is fluency based, students receive a higher score if they are phonologically recoding the word and receive a lower score if they are providing letter sounds in isolation.

The NWF measure takes about 1 minute to administer and has over 20 alternate forms for monitoring progress.