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Elementary students to take reading tests this week

COVINGTON - Newton County elementary school students are scheduled to be tested on their reading prowess sometime this week or next.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade students will take the second of three Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills, or DIBELS, assessments between now and Jan. 24.

"DIBELS are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development," said Ken Proctor, elementary curriculum director at the Newton County School System, in an e-mail. "They are designed to be short, one-minute fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills."

Students took the first set of tests in mid-August and will take the third, and last, set of the year in May.

"For each administration, the benchmarks are different in order to show the progress a child is making in reading; this is the reason it is called dynamic, as the measures can detect increments of improvement," Proctor said. "On a more frequent basis, students are progress-monitored using various DIBELS measures throughout the year."

Kindergarten and first-grade students are tested in letter naming and letter sound fluency; kindergartners also are tested in initial sound fluency; and kindergartners, first- and second graders are tested in nonsense word fluency. Grades one through five are all tested in oral reading fluency.

"The children read passages for the (oral reading fluency) measure that has been developed by the test developer," Proctor said. "Of course, for the other measures, they are also reading letters, making sounds, etc. as predetermined by the test developer."

NCSS has given the test at all schools since the 2005-06 school year, but this year will be a little different.

"All schools, beginning with the current school year, are using the electronic format, wherein the assessment is given via a Palm Pilot or Personal Data Assistant by a school staff member in grades kindergarten through three," Proctor said. "In fourth and fifth grades, the assessments are not electronic."

The one-minute assessments are given one-on-one in all grade levels.

"Most schools use a sweep method, where a team of staff members in the school administer the assessment," Proctor said. "It usually takes two or three days. In the lower grades, (the tests takes) probably five to eight minutes per child; in the upper grades, approximately five to 10 minutes per child."

For electronic version, the scores are instantaneous, and for the manual versions, teachers can score them "very quickly," Proctor said.

"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," Proctor said. "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."

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

· What: DIBELS testing

· Grades: Kindergarten through fifth grade

· When: Jan. 14 to 24

· Where: At students' respective schools