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Formal and Informal Assessment: After Reading

Monitoring Students' Progress

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Assessing Comprehension Using DIBELS measures

Comprehension 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' comprehnsion level. The Retell Fluency (RTF) measure is intended to provide a comprehension check for the Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) assessment. To learn more about the DIBELS assessment system, click here.

Retell Fluency

Retell Fluency (RTF) is intended to provide a comprehension check for the ORF assessment. In general, oral reading fluency provides one of the best measures of reading competence, including comprehension, for children in first through third grades. The purpose of the RTF measure is to (a) prevent inadvertently learning or practicing a misrule, (b) identify children whose comprehension is not consistent with their fluency, (c) provide an explicit linkage to the core components in the National Reading Panel (2000) report, and (d) increase the face validity of the ORF.

  1. The misrule that we want to prevent is that speed-reading without attending to meaning is either desirable or the intent of the oral reading fluency measure. With a prompted retell, children will be less likely to conclude that simply reading as fast as they can is the desired behavior, and teachers will be less likely to imply that simply reading as fast as they can is desired.
  2. Teachers frequently are concerned about children who read fluently and do not comprehend. This pattern is infrequent - but may apply to some children. This procedure may identify those children without unduly increasing the amount of time spent in the assessment.
  3. The National Reading Panel (2000) report is clear on the core components of early reading, and the DIBELS measures map explicitly onto the first three (i.e., Phonemic Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, and Accuracy and Fluency with connected text). Retell Fluency is included to provide a brief measure with an explicit score that corresponds directly to the comprehension core component.
  4. A primary concern teachers have about oral reading fluency is the face validity of the measure (i.e., some see it as solely a measure of "speed reading"). Incorporation of an explicit comprehension check may help teachers feel increasingly comfortable with oral reading fluency as an indicator of overall reading proficiency.

Oral Reading Fluency

The DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency measure is a standardized, individually administered test of accuracy and fluency with connected text. The DORF passages and procedures are based on the program of research and development of Curriculum-Based Measurement of Reading by Stan Deno and colleagues at the University of Minnesota and using the procedures described in Shinn (1989). A version of CBM reading also has been published as The Test of Reading Fluency (TORF) (Children's Educational Services, 1987).

DORF is a standardized set of passages and administration procedures designed to (a) identify children who may need additional instructional support, and (b) monitor progress toward instructional goals. The passages are calibrated for the goal level of reading for each grade level.

Student performance is measured by having students read a passage aloud for one minute. Words omitted, substituted, and hesitations of more than three seconds are scored as errors. Words self-corrected within three seconds are scored as accurate. The number of correct words per minute from the passage is the oral reading fluency rate.