How to Administer Dibels Assessment

DIBELS data helps teachers target instruction for students that have deficits in areas of reading.

The Dynamic Measurement Group states the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) “measures phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency with connected text, reading comprehension, and vocabulary.” The assessment is divided into three benchmarks that are given at the beginning, middle and the end of the year. Each task takes one minute and the data can be used to plan class work, intervention activities or to create flexible reading groups.

Tell the student you’re going to give them some things to do to find out how much they know about letters, sounds or reading. Tell them this before beginning the assessment. Make sure they’re calm and understand they need to do their best.

Read from the script to explain the first task. When giving the DIBELS, teachers only need to read the script to explain the task and the sample before the task begins. There is no need to make up directions. If there is something the student needs to see in order to complete the task, place it in front of them.

Ask the student to complete the sample before starting the first part of the assessment. This is the time to make sure the student understands what they need to do for the first task. Any confusion should be cleared up now. The script explains how to correct a student if they do not complete the sample task correctly.

Begin the first part of the assessment. Make sure your timer or stopwatch is on since the tasks are always timed for one minute.

Record the student’s responses during the assessment. Use the symbols indicated in the DIBELS assessment manual.

Stop the assessment task when you get to one minute. Tally the information recorded during the first task. Write the score at the bottom of the student assessment sheet on the appropriate line and move on to the next section of the assessment. Repeat the process until all sections of that benchmark are completed. Once all the sections are completed, review the data to determine areas of strength and areas that may need some extra practice. The University of Oregon Center on Teaching and Learning DIBELS Data System has links on its homepage to resources for the five areas of reading. Teachers can also create an account to download free materials.

  • DIBELS can also be used as a progress monitoring tool for the same areas students are assessed on. This can be done by using the progress monitoring materials instead of benchmark materials. Students can be monitored weekly or bi-weekly. Sign up for a free account to access the materials.

Audrey Akins began publishing articles in 2002 as a contributing writer for her college newspaper. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and also has a master's degree in education.