Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review: The Truth about DIBELS: What It Is, What It Does by Kenneth S. Goodman

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Title: The Truth about DIBELS: What It Is, What It Does
Author: Kenneth S. Goodman
Publisher: Heinemann Educational Books
Paperback: 87 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
In "The Truth About DIBELS" you'll find out why teachers, administrators, and reading researchers nationwide are emphatically resisting the insidious influence of "DIBELS." Well-known education writers - including P. David Pearson, Robert Tierney, Sandra Wilde, and Maryann Manning - tell you how DIBELS hurts students and teachers and why impairs learning and teaching. They present chapters that: dispel the science and methodology that "support" DIBELS critique the validity of the information that DIBELS spits out demonstrate how DIBELS warps instructional planning to fit its limited measurements - and to fit the political ends of its creators and supporters expose the fiction behind its supposedly miraculous success rates.

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I think this is an important book for parents and educators to read -- DIBELS is an intervention program that is increasingly being used in schools, and Goodman gives a good overview of exactly what this test measures and the negative effects it can have on children who are learning to read. Basically, this test only measures fluency skills, not actual reading ability, and when children are being put into special programs based on that and then being taught to the test rather than being taught actual reading skills, it creates a lot of problems.

This book provides a great basic overview of the test itself, but it's fairly biased as far as books go. I think that DIBELS can potentially catch poor readers who need to be put into intervention programs to "catch up," but I also don't think that it should be the only tool used in assessing student reading ability. Also, it's important that parents understand exactly what their children are being tested for and what those test results mean -- information which I don't think is made very clear.

Again, this is just a resource for parents and educators to stay informed about the measures being used to test children and what effects those tests can have.