Why the DIBELS is not a Complete Screening for Dyslexia



Screening for dyslexia should include several measures. It should screen for rapid naming, phonemic awareness and sound to letter correspondence at it’s minimum. Family history of learning to read can be a significant factor as well.

Phonemic awareness is a major problem with those with dyslexia. This is the idea of knowing what a particular letter, or set of letters, called graphemes sounds like. Much of the literacy tasks, book, shows that you see on the market focus on initial sound literacy. A “cat” starts with the sound /k/. The problem is that many dyslexic students struggle with middle and last sound phonemic awareness. This is why it is so difficult for them to rhyme. Phonemic awareness includes many other tasks such as phoneme isolation, phoneme segmentation, and phoneme deletion.

Rapid naming is the ability to state the name of an object quickly. It is a necessary school for reading and fluency of reading. Although the DIBELS screens for the accuracy of reading, rapid naming is a critical skills used in this task.

The question is brought before us. If the only screening tool is the DIBELS, who is getting left out? The DIBELS is a well normed test. It screens for nonsense words in first grade, but is not normed beyond 1st grade. There needs to be a more robust screening. We need screening that would involve phonemic awareness that involves isolation, deletion beyond just segmentation.

Moreso, we need to not just do screening but to look at the data and what it is telling us about what intervention needs to be put into place. Data without action is useless.

I’m providing a great article from Dr. Wolf which further explains these two concepts.

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