• What is D.I.B.E.L.S?


    The DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) Assessment from the University of Oregon is  currently used for Hackensack School District's assessment for all K-2 students. All students will be assessed three times each year (fall, winter, and spring) to monitor growth. In the fall, entering kindergarten students are assessed with only two literacy tasks, Initial Sound Fluency and Letter Naming Fluency. In the winter, two more tasks (Phoneme Segmentation and Nonsense Word Fluency) are added. In the spring, students will be assessed with Letter Naming Fluency, Phoneme Segmentation, and Nonsense Word Fluency. In first and second grades, additional skills are added. The DIBELS Assessment is just one indicator of your child's readiness for reading.

    Initial Sound Fluency

    Students are shown picture cards (for example: monkey, dog and cat). The teacher says, "This is a monkey, a dog and a cat." Then asks, "Which picture begins with /d/ [the "d" sound, not the letter name]?" You can play this game orally with your child in the car or anytime with or without the use of pictures. You can also ask your child to name as many words as they can beginning with a specific letter or letter sound. The goals for initial sound fluency are 8+ in the fall and 25+ in the winter.

    Letter Naming Fluency

    Speed is the key factor here. Students are asked to name as many letters in one minute as they can from a chart. You can point to any word anywhere and have your child spell it for you. It is good practice to have students identify letters in various texts, sizes, and fonts, since this is what students have to do when they read. The goals for letter naming fluency are: 8+ in the fall; 27+ in the winter; and 40+ in the spring.

    Phoneme Segmentation Fluency

    Phonemes are individual sounds. The word "cat" for example has three phonemes, /c/ /a/ /t/. In this task, the teacher says, "Tell me the sounds in the word cup." The student must break the word apart by sound and repeat it back in segments, with a pause between each sound. The student has to say /c/ /u/ /p/, giving the beginning, middle, and ending sounds. This is a great skill to practice even if your child did very well on the task, because students have to improve their skills at every testing. The number of correct responses required to be at "Benchmark-Grade Level" increases at each testing. This is something we practice in class to develop writing skills as well. Students need to hear the sounds to write them down. The goals for phoneme segmentation in one minute's time are: 18+ in the winter and 35+ in the spring.

    Nonsense Word Fluency

    This is difficult for kindergartners because they are used to being asked to sound out real words like "cat" and "mop". Nonsense words are not real words (kuv, tic, wot, sud, fet, con). Students are asked to read nonsense words to test their decoding ability. The goal for nonsense word fluency in one minute's time are: 13+ in the winter and 25+ in the spring.


    Students will be assessed throughout the year to monitor progress in these areas. Students will have plenty of opportunities to master all of the skills through whole group instruction, small group instruction and literacy centers.