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Do DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency scores predict SAT-10 reading scores in first grade?


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Do DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency scores predict SAT-10 reading scores in first grade? a comparison of boys and Girls in Reading First schools
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Napier, Diane E
University of South Florida
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Formative assessment
Differential prediction
Nonsense word fluency
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency Scores in the fall of first grade as a predictor of SAT-10 results. A comparison of boys and girls, three ethnic groups (Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American), and three different reading risk groups were examined using multiple regression analyses. Analysis of data from a total of 27,000 participants from a cohort of Reading First schools in 2003/2004 confirmed Nonsense Word Fluency scores in the fall of first grade to be a significant predictor of the SAT-10 reading scores in the spring. Differences found between and within groups were determined very small when Cohen's effect size was calculated. These results support for the use of Nonsense Word Fluency as a valid and useful early literacy assessment tool for determining which children likely need early additional reading instructional support in order to be successful readers.
Thesis (Ed.S.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Diane E. Napier.
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Do DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency scores predict SAT-10 reading scores in first grade? :
b a comparison of boys and Girls in Reading First schools
h [electronic resource] /
by Diane E. Napier.
[Tampa, Fla.] :
University of South Florida,
3 520
ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency Scores in the fall of first grade as a predictor of SAT-10 results. A comparison of boys and girls, three ethnic groups (Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American), and three different reading risk groups were examined using multiple regression analyses. Analysis of data from a total of 27,000 participants from a cohort of Reading First schools in 2003/2004 confirmed Nonsense Word Fluency scores in the fall of first grade to be a significant predictor of the SAT-10 reading scores in the spring. Differences found between and within groups were determined very small when Cohen's effect size was calculated. These results support for the use of Nonsense Word Fluency as a valid and useful early literacy assessment tool for determining which children likely need early additional reading instructional support in order to be successful readers.
Thesis (Ed.S.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 133 pages.
Co-adviser: Kelly A. Powell-Smith, Ph.D.
Co-adviser: Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D.
Formative assessment.
Differential prediction.
Nonsense word fluency.
Dissertations, Academic
x School Psychology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Do DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency Scor es Predict SAT-10 Reading Scores in First Grade? A Comparison of Boys and Girls in Reading First Schools by Diane E. Napier A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Education Specialist Department of School Psychology College of Education University of South Florida Co-Major Professor: Kelly A. Powell-Smith, Ph.D. Co-Major Professor: Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D. Professor: Robert F. Dedrick, Ph. D. Date of Approval: February 12th, 2008 Keywords: formative assessment, gender, differential prediction, bias, reading, nonsense word fluency, SAT-10 Copyright 2008, Diane E. Napier


Acknowledgements This project could not have been completed without the support of a dedicated group of individuals. I am extr emely grateful to my professors: Dr. Kelly Powell-Smith, Dr. Linda Raffaele-Me ndez and Dr. Robert Dedrick for their support with this research. In particular I thank Dr. Kelly Powell-Smith, who not only inspired the research, but also ga ve considerable support with advice on references, edits and feedback from beginning through to completion of this research. I would also like to thank the Pasco County School District for their interest in this project, in particular Amelia Van Name Larson, District Supervisor for School Psychologists, and also Tammy Berryhill, Principal at Mittye P. Locke Elementary School, who not only allowed me the time to defend this project during my Internship year, but who al so showed me the relevance of good research in our current schooling syst em. Finally, I also acknowledge the emotional support of my onsite internship supervisor, Tara Davis, M.A., who encouraged me to continue with the project by acknowledging its importance in my new role as a school psychologist.


i Table of Contents List of Tables iii Abstract v Chapter One: Introduction 1 Overview of Proposed Study 8 Chapter Two: Review of the Literature 11 The Importance of Reading 11 No Child Left Behind 14 DIBELS in Florida 17 Differential Prediction and Bias in Assessments 21 Conceptual Models of Differential Prediction 22 An Empirical Model: Omitted Variables 24 Bias 26 Bias Affecting Civil Law 29 Methodological Measurement of Bias 31 Bias in Curriculum-Based Measurement 32 Ethnic Bias 33 Gender Bias 36 Socioeconomic Status (SES) Bias 40 Previous Research on DIBELS 41 Research using DIBELS as Formative Assessments 42 Research on Reliability, Validit y and Predictability of DIBELS 46 Research on Progress Monitoring with DIBELS 48 Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) 52 NWF as a Diagnostic Problem-solving Tool 52 Reliability, Validity, and Predictability of NWF 55 NWF as a Curriculum and Instruction Evaluation Tool 58 The Current Study 63 Research Questions 64 Chapter Three: Method 66 Reading First 66 Participants and Setting 68 Instrumentation 70 NWF 70 Stanford-10 (SAT-10) 71


ii Procedure 72 Training of Data Collectors 72 Administration, Scoring and Interpretation of Measures 73 Confidentiality 73 Data Analysis 74 Chapter Four: Results 78 Descriptive Statistics 78 Multiple Regression Analysis 82 Multiple Regression Analysis Examining Gender 82 Multiple Regression Analysis Examining Ethnicity 87 Multiple Regression Analysis Examining the Interaction between Gender and Ethnicity 93 R2 Change Statistics 96 Chapter Five: Discussion 103 Summary of Findings 103 Gender 104 Ethnicity 105 Risk Levels 108 Maturation Effects 109 Testing Conditions 109 Threats to External Validity 110 Population Validity 110 Ecological Validity 112 Implications for Practice and Research 112 Directions for Future Research 114 References 116 Appendix 132 Appendix A: Sample NWF probe 133


iii List of Tables Table 1 Descriptive Statistics of Population 69 Table 2 Comparison of Sample to US Census 2000 70 Table 3 Descriptive Statistics of NWF by Group 80 Table 4 Descriptive Statistics of SAT-10 Reading Comprehension by Group 81 Table 5 Distribution of Risk Gr oups for each Demographic Group 82 Table 6 Partial Correlation Coefficients between NWF-1 and SAT-10 after controlling for Reduced/Free lunch programs 83 Table 7 Estimated Coefficients for Regression on SAT-10, including Gender Interaction Terms 84 Table 8 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10, including Gender Interaction Terms 85 Table 9 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10 for High Risk students, including Gender Interaction Terms 87 Table 10 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10 for Moderate Risk students, Including Gender Interaction Terms 87 Table 11 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10 for Low-Risk and AboveAverage Students including Gender Interaction Terms 88 Table 12 Estimated Coefficients for Regression on SAT-10 including Ethnicity Interaction Terms 89


iv Table 13 R2 Change Statistics for Re gression on SAT-10, including Ethnicity Interaction Terms 90 Table 14 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10 for High Risk students, including Ethnicity Interaction terms 92 Table 15 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10 for Moderate Risk students, Including Ethnicity Interaction Terms 92 Table 16 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10 for Low-Risk and AboveAverage Students, including Ethnicity Interaction Terms 93 Table 17 Estimated Regression Coefficients for General model, using the whole Sample 95 Table 18 R2 Change Statistics for General model of Regression on SAT10 97 Table 19 R2 Change Statistics for Gen eral Regression on SAT-10, for High Risk students 99 Table 20 R2 Change Statistics for General Regression on SAT-10 for Moderate Risk students 100 Table 21 R2 Change Statistics for General Regression on SAT-10 for Low-Risk and Above-Average students 101


v Do DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency Scor es Predict SAT-10 Scores in First Grade? A Comparison of Boys and Girls in Reading First Schools Diane E. Napier ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency Scores in the fall of first gr ade as a predictor of SAT-10 results. A comparison of boys and girls, three ethni c groups (Caucasian, Hispanic, AfricanAmerican), and three different reading risk groups were examined using multiple regression analyses. Analysis of data from a total of 27,000 participants from a cohort of Reading First schools in 2003/2004 confirmed Nonsense Word Fluency scores in the fall of first grade to be a significant predictor of the SAT-10 reading scores in the spring. Differences f ound between and within groups were determined very small when Cohens e ffect size was calculated. These results support for the use of Nonsense Word Flue ncy as a valid and us eful early literacy assessment tool for determining which children likely need early additional reading instructional support in order to be successful readers.


1 Chapter One Introduction Recent research by the National Research Council (1998) found large achievement gaps in reading between minority groups and Caucasian children, with an overrepresentation of minority ch ildren in special education for reading problems. The Presidents Commission on Excellence in Special Education (PCESE) (Office of Special Education a nd Rehabilitative Services [OSERS], 2002) reported that up to 40% of all ch ildren served through special education were merely deficient in exposure to ad equate reading instruction, which gave evidence for inadequate reading instructi on. In other words, nearly half of the children in special education programs in U.S. schools are there because of poor reading performance due in part to ineffective reading instruction. Because of the number of children str uggling to achieve mastery with basic literacy skills, there has been considerable research to explain reasons for skill deficits in prerequisite skills that help enable reading (National Research Council, 1998). Concerns about providing educati on that promotes effective skill acquisition for early and continued literacy have been driven by societal demands for increased academic achievement, parent al expectations that schools should teach every child to read, and governme nt mandates (Rashotte, MacPhee, &


2 Torgesen, 2001). Support for this need to improve reading instruction in schools has been provided by the final repo rt from the Presidents Commission on Excellence in Special Education (Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, 2002). Pressure to improve the standard of literacy across the nation has influenced many areas of school functio ning from teacher training at the building level, to timetable changes fo r 90 minute reading slots, and now to extended curriculum products to support reading skill development. On January 8th, 2002, President George W. Bu sh signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2001). The purpose of No Child Left Behind was to use federal law to help bring about stronger accountability for schools with one goal being to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged, minority, and majority students. This law ha s time frames that require schools to report the achievement of their children disaggregated not only by grade levels but also by a breakdown of the different demographic groups within the school including variables such as ethnicity, learning disabi lities, and socioeconomic status. The results are reported to the district level and then to the national level. Schools are now under pressure to clos e achievement gaps between various demographic groups to meet adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals. This information may be used to determine the level of funding schools receive the following year. Scientifically Based Reading Resear ch (SBRR) has led educators to alter curricula to incorporate 5 Big Ideas show n to be critical early literacy skills: Phonemic Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, Fluency, Vocabulary, and


3 Comprehension. Considerable research supports the 5 Big Ideas (NRP, 2000; Armbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001), the component skills in early literacy acquisition that are now taught in schools as part of a literacy period. Reading First schools are required to provide a minimum of 90 minutes of reading instruction ever y day in grades K-3. All Reading First schools across the country follow a format of direct instruction followed by independent seatwork and small group reading activi ties (NCLB, 2001). The aim is to have every child progress according to his/her developmental level and to provide extra curriculum support for children not reaching benchmark normative standards Because of the new focus on literacy, sc hools are encouraged to identify factors that help children succeed so they can provide intervention at an early stage to any group that is at any risk of failure to achieve benchmark standards. In Florida, beginning in the fall of first grade, children are screened with the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Lite racy Skills (DIBELS) (Good et al., 2001), and their scores are sent to the district offices, who forward the information to the Florida Center for Reading Research. The benchmarks for this assessment determine which of four levels of risk a childs performance falls within for determining the probability of future read ing success. The children with very low scores are determined to be at high risk for future reading failure. Once at risk children are identified, the school ha s the opportunity to provide further instruction specifically to help them cl ose the achievement gap between them and their peers. The aim of th e early screening measures is to provide a way of


4 identifying children before they fail high stakes state reading achievement tests in third grade and to give them a better opportunity to stay on track academically. DIBELS is comprised of a range of literacy assessment tools. For example, the measures include reading pa ssages to determine oral reading fluency rates that can be administered across all elementary school grade levels. There are six early literacy assessment tools to dete rmine proficiency in early literacy skills: Letter Naming Fluency (LNF), Initial Sound Fluency (ISF), Phonemic Segmentation Fluency (PSF), Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), Word Use Fluency (WUF), and Retell Fluency (RTF ). These research-based assessments measure different skills and are sensitive to change over short periods of time. At present, Florida uses ISF, PSF, LNF, a nd NWF from preschool through first grade for benchmark formative assessments. Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) measures are used from the winter semest er of first grade upwards. With the emphasis on measuring achie vement, there have always been concerns with respect to bias. Is the test the children are required to take biased for any one group more than another? Over the years, there has been considerable public interest in bias of tests, especially with rega rd to ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. There are several important concepts that concern the validity of using formative assessments to predict future test outcomes: bias, differential prediction, and predictive validity. Each of these terms explains results obtained by tests differently. Bias is a systematic measurement error that is commonly associated with items or factors in a test that are more specific to one population than another (e.g., the verbal and semantic knowledge in IQ tests).


5 Differential prediction, however, refers to a score predicting a future outcome measure score differently for different populations. Predictive validity refers to the ability of the first measure to correla te significantly with an outcome measure along a criterion dimension the test is de signed to measure. A common statistical tool to determine these criterion and predictive validity and possible bias is regression analysis. In regression anal ysis, a slope and intercept value is calculated for each group, and equity between slopes is discussed with regard to the outcome measure to determine the efficacy of the predictor tool. Bias is an important concept when ex amining test performance because, if bias exists, there will be an over-pre diction or under-prediction of children identified for early reading failure. Bi as refers to the same score meaning something different for one population than another. Cole and Moss (1993) define bias as differential validity of a give n interpretation of a test score for any definable, relevant subgroup of test takers (Cole & Moss, 1993, p.205). Differential prediction means one initial score will predict, via linear regression, a different outcome score fo r one demographic group compared to another for any given criterion meas ure (Cleary, 1968). Typically, with differential prediction, the prediction under or over-predicts the criterion performance for different groups (e.g the performance of a minority group may be overpredicted) (Shields, Konold & Glutting, 2004). Criterion bias refers to differences in group prediction when the intercept or the slope, determined by the regression analysis, is different for differe nt groups. Intercept differences suggest one group is consistently over or under-predi cted. Predictive bias can also be seen


6 with slope differences when the regre ssion lines between the majority and the minority groups are not parallel. Regressi on analysis can determ ine if an over or under-prediction of outcome achievement ex ists for any group (Shields et al., 2004). Validity coefficients can also be used to examine predictive validity. If the validity coefficient is significantly higher for one group than another group, differential predictive validity is determined (Young, 1994). Examining curriculum-based measurement (CBM) tools for slope bias, differential prediction and/ or predictive validity is important because the emphasis on measuring success in literacy is determined by test scores with linear outputs. Educators need assurance that different populations are being accurately assessed. They also need confidence that th e tests used not only measure current performance accurately, but will help iden tify target groups (e.g., children with high risk status) to help gui de educational resources and instruction. With a linear score definition, cut off scores are determ ined for eligibility to passing, failing, or being considered at risk. It is, ther efore, important to identify the correct children in each category so they can receive the education they need to gain mastery of literacy skills. If schools succeed in identifying the populations that need extra reading instruction correctly, they will be able to then provide the appropriate delivery of tiered interventi on necessary to try to close achievement gaps for adequate yearly progress (AYP). Secondly, if children identified as at risk for reading failure succeed equally well on outcome measure assessments, then the time, money, and resources invest ed in the interventions to help them will have paid off for everyone concerne d. Teachers will have helped close


7 achievement gaps as part of NLCB accountability, and children will benefit from their increase in current performance and prediction of future grade-level curriculum achievement. Because NC LB has mandated the closure of achievement gaps, DIBELS measures ar e now used in many general education first grade classes for progress monitoring children with Academic Improvement Plans (AIPs) Individual Educationa l Plans (IEPs), and Progress Monitoring Plans (PMPs) in reading, as well as all children in Reading First schools. However, little research to date has b een conducted for differential prediction of DIBELS measures for diverse populations. A few studies on CBM have examined racial and ethnic bias for CBM (Kranzler, 1999; Hintze et al., 2002; Klein & Jimmers on, 2005). Despite earlier concerns of ethnic bias in testing and curriculum measures, Klein et al., (2005), found that once socioeconomic factors were controlled, there were no significant differences between the ethnic groups. Gender is commonly researched as a factor influencing childrens academic performance. Gender differences in academic performance have been attributed to poor behavior by boys, (Pro chnow et al., 2001), as well as concerns about gender bias in curriculum (AAUW, 1992). There is no evidence to date of gender bias in outcome tests, but when mu ltiple factors are analyzed at the same time, gender is one of many considerati ons (Klein et al., 2005). This study is interested in examining gender as a variable that may affect differential prediction, because there is evidence of boys having more referrals for reading disability groups and also having more behavior problems (Mendez, Mihalas, &


8 Hardesty, 2006), which may suggest their ra te of learning and slope of prediction line may be different when compared to girls. Socioeconomic status (SES) too has become a focus of research, with evidence for its transactional influence of variables affecting home environment, home-language spoken, achievement in school (Klein & Jimmerson, 2005), income and race (Hixson & McGlinchey, 2004) and differences in teacher ratings of childrens self-efficacy (Mashburn et al ., 2006). The results of research have guided literacy reform models in high poverty areas in order to promote good instruction so that achievem ent levels of the children can be raised to meet grade level proficiencies (Tivnan & Hemphill, 2005). Overview of the Study This study explored differential pred iction for gender and ethnicity in the DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) m easures currently used in Florida in first grade. DIBELS NWF is administered in the fall of first grade and measures the alphabetic principle (i.e., bot h the knowledge of common letter sound correspondences and the ability to ble nd these sounds together into words) (Kaminksi & Good, 1996). Benchmarks for DIBELS NWF are one piece of information available from the DIBELS m easures that may be used determine a childs risk level for success in future high stakes reading outcome tests. In the spring of first grade, the Stanford Achievement Test 10th Edition (Harcourt Assessment Inc., 2006) is used as an outcome assessment. This study examined the predictive validity of the DIBELS NWF assessment for the SAT-10 Reading Comprehension portion and examine whethe r differential prediction occurs for


9 various subgroups (e.g., male vs. female or high vs. low SES). This research is important because very littl e research has explored the issues of differential prediction based on gender or ethnicity in any of the DIBELS measures, and NWF is increasingly being used across the United States as a formative assessment. Differential prediction is problematic becau se if one score predicts differently for one group than another, the validity of one score to predict a future result across different populations could be challe nged. This is an important concept in formative assessment because the purpose of assessment is to guide educational practice, teaching and resources to target those children in need of extra support with an intervention. If a cutoff score pr edicts an outcome measure assessment incorrectly it means that resources will be over or under alloca ted and the results will not therefore generate the best outcom es. It is important, therefore to examine cutoff scores for differential prediction validity to assure educators of the populations identified as in need of support according to the risk levels identified. This study examined differential pr ediction by analyzing the regression slopes and intercepts of the populations stratified first by gender and then by ethnicity on the DIBELS fall NWF scor es of the Reading First schools to determine if there are any differences in the prediction of the SAT-10 reading comprehension achievement results in the late spring of the same academic year. The analysis provides new information to the literature currently published on DIBELS measures as well as new inform ation on whether there are any gender or SES differences in the predictive determination of DIBELS towards SAT-10 in


10 first grade. Because both DIBELS a nd SAT-10 are widely-used tests in educational settings, the information gain ed from this study informs educators, school psychologists, and policy makers as to the efficacy of DIBELS as a predictor measure generalized across di verse populations with one set of benchmarks for all children. With conf idence that the benchmarks function equally well across populations, we can be more confident that the billions of federal dollars being allocated and disp ersed to schools to improve literacy standards can be justified, and accountability to tax payers, policy makers, educators, teachers and school psychologists will support NCLB. The research questions addr essed in this study were: 1. Do NWF scores in fall of fi rst grade predict SAT-10 reading comprehension achievement equally well for boys and girls as a whole sample, and also within three risk group categories? 2. Do NWF scores in the fall of fi rst grade predict SAT-10 reading comprehension achievement equally we ll for different ethnic groups as a whole sample, and also within three risk group categories? 3. Is there an interaction between gender and ethnicity in the prediction of SAT-10 reading comprehension achievement scores from NWF scores as a whole sample, and also within three risk group categories??


11 Chapter Two Review of the Literature The Importance of Reading Reading is a critical skill that se rves a gate-keeping role to academic achievement in elementary school, high school, and college education in our western society. Literacy opens the d oor to a wide number of employment opportunities, and this, in turn, provides individuals with fina ncial independence. Because of the fundamental importance of literacy in our society, reading and writing are taught in schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. Currently, there are serious concer ns over low levels of literacy achievement across the nation. The Nationa l Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, 2005) noted that 5% of the a dult population (about 11 million people) is nonliterate and found that th ere has been little change over the past decade in prose (narrative and social) literacy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, 2003) published a study titled Learning a Living: First Results of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey (ALL) in which adult literacy rates were measured in both prose and document (factual and declarative knowledge) literacy. These assessments meas ured adults prose, document, and quantitative (mathematical) literacy skills. Prose literacy items were made up of continuous text (formed of sentences into paragraphs). Document literacy items


12 were made up of non-continuous text (tables, schedules, charts and graphs, or other text that had clearly defined rows and columns). Quantitative literacy is knowledge of skills required to apply arithmetic operations, either alone or sequentially to numbers embedded in prin ted materials such as balancing a checkbook, calculating a tip, completing an or der form, or determining an amount of interest on a loan from an advertisement. The purpose of the OECD study was to examine skill acquisition and loss in adults as a result of early initial e ducation and skills learne d in schools. ALL is the direct successor to th e International Literacy Survey (IALS), which was conducted in three phases (1994-1998) and 20 nations, including the United States. The ALL report (OECD, 2003) is meant to assist educators and individuals in decision-making roles to improve the quality of education by addressing skill deficits that negatively imp act individuals and lead to social exclusion and inequality. The study described adults as people who were 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. When examining the levels of prose, document, and quantitative literacy achievement in education from 1992 to 2003, four groups of people were identified: those who had less than a high school education, those who had graduated from high school, college graduates, and those with post graduate studies or degrees. The report found that although literacy increased with the completion of more education, across every category of adults, there was a dec line in literary scores fro m 1992 to 2003. Those adults in graduate studies and post-graduate degr ees declined the most, losing up to 13 points in prose and 17 points in quantita tive literacy achievement since the last


13 assessment in 1992. When examining ethnicity factors, White adults maintained similar scores in prose and document literacy, but rose 9 points in quantitative achievement. African-American scores improved across all dimensions, but Hispanic adults were lower in every aspect down 18 points in prose and 14 points in document literacy achievement. In addition to these assessments of adu lt literacy, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) conducted an assessment of young adult liter acy in the United States in 1985, an assessment of jobs eekers in 1991, a Natio nal Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) in 1992, and a follow-up to NALS, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) in 2003. Of 11 million adults assessed, the NAAL (2003) reported that 7 million adults could not answer simple test questions because of illiteracy. Fourteen percent (approximat ely 30 million adults) of the population was Below Basic levels, which mean t they had no more than simple and concrete literacy skills. Several population groups were over-represented in the Below Basic level. For instance, 55% of adults with Below Basic Skills in prose literacy did not graduate from high school co mpared to fifteen percent of adults in the general population. Because of the number of both adult illiterates and children leaving school without basic literacy comp etence, there are growing c oncerns that the curriculum and methods of teaching reading in th e school system are failing the population. The failure to achieve competence was especially noticed in minority and disadvantaged populations, resulting in widening achievement gaps between Caucasian children and other minority groups (Kao & Tienda, 1995). Reading


14 instruction has become a national concer n, with researchers examining both the content and methods of school curriculum (National Research Council, 1998; Colon & Kranzler, 2006). No Child Left Behind A major educational reform made history on January 8th, 2002 when President Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB, 2001). The purpose of No Child Left Behind was to use the federal law to help bring about stronger accountability for schools with the aim of closing the achievement gap between disadvantag ed, minority, and other students. Because of the low standards of lite racy across the adult population in the United States, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001) has made educational reform designed to close achievement gaps, increase school achievement, and increase school accountability. As pa rt of accountability, the law mandates provisions for goals for every child to ma ke the grade on state-defined education standards by the end of the 2013/14 sc hool year. To fulfill accountability expectations, every state has adopted pr ogress monitoring tools to measure their performance against internal (statewide) and external (nat ional) standards. States are required to report student achieveme nt disaggregated by named subgroups so the performance of groups within the whole system can be monitored for progress (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2004). To ensure that systematic changes to improve literacy are adopted, a focus of NCLB is to put schools under pressure to raise the achieveme nt of all children, especially those with the lowest academic levels Beginning with the 2002-03


15 school year, NCLB required st ates to set targets for sc hools and districts to make adequate yearly progress towards this goal (AYP). Those schools who do not meet this requirement for two consec utive years are identified as needing improvement, and various strategies are av ailable to provide further support to them. The National Assessment of Educa tional Progress (NAEP), part of the Institute of Educational St atistics (IES), provides anal ysis of assessments across states and examines national trends for baseline indicators and trend lines. An emphasis on data collection and requirement to improve childrens performance on accountability measures in reading a nd math has shaped state laws, and currently it is mandatory in Florida for st udents reading skills to be assessed beginning in kindergarten and c ontinuing at a minimum through 3rd grade. To support the growing concerns, research initiatives by the National Research Council triggered a vast array of curriculum-ba sed analyses to provide information into the most successful me thods of promoting literacy acquisition (NRC, 1998). The NCR named five big id eas in reading: phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle (phonics), fluency with connected text, vocabulary, and comprehension. Phonemic awareness is a metalinguistic skill that enables the explicit attendance to the phonological structure of spoken words, rather than the meaning or syntactic role of the word in the sentence (NRC, 1998). It is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words and involves auditory processing skills. Examples of phonemic awareness skills include: blending of sounds (e.g. /mmm/ + /ooooo/ + /p/ = mop), and segmentation ( IDEA, 2002). Segmentation allows the listener to identify individual initial sound isolatio ns (e.g., /m/ is the


16 first sound in mop), ending sound isolations (e.g., /p/ is the la st sound in mop), and complete segmentation (the sounds in mop are: /m/+ /o/ + /p/). Alphabetic principle (phonics) is the ability to associate sounds with letters. It requires an understanding that spoken la nguage can be broken into separate strings of words, phonemes a nd syllables represented graphically by letter units. Fluency is the automatic ability to decipher letter-sounds and read words effortlessly, and represents a stag e when decoding skil ls have become automatic. Fluency enables readers to then focus their attention on comprehending the meaning of the text. Vocabulary is the ability to understand words in receptive language, and also re trieve and use words from memory using expressive language. An average studen t in grade 3-12 is likely to learn approximately 3,000 new vocabulary word s each year (Nagy & Anderson, 1984). Comprehension is the intera ction between the readers prior knowledge and the text being read. Comprehension refers to the meaning the reader synthesizes from the text. Comprehension skills include stra tegies such as summarizing, predicting, and monitoring (NRC, 1998). These 5 core skills, now called the 5 Big Ideas in reading curriculum (NRP, 2000) have now become a framework for identifying, evaluating, and promoting literacy in struction and assessment (NRP, 2000). The NCLB Act also significantly increased funding for two new literacy initiatives Reading First and Early Read ing First. Both of these programs are aimed at helping children achieve readi ng proficiency by the end of third grade. Both are voluntary programs to help states and local education agencies use scientifically-based readi ng research to improve read ing instruction for the young.


17 Reading First, in particular, is design ed to help states and educators use scientifically proven reading programs with in all general education classes up to grade 3 (Torgesen, 2006). The purpose of the drive behind this literacy reform movement is to identify children early who are at risk of future reading failure so they can receive extra support and effective early instru ction to promote th eir success (Education Commission of the States, 2003-4). Recent assessments by The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAE P, 1997) identified 40% of fourth graders, 30% of eighth graders, and 25% of twelfth graders as reading below grade level. The percentage is higher in schools that have a large population of students receiving free or reduced lu nches (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Because new mandates under NCLB put cons iderable emphasis on accountability, a focus on assessments and screening measures for early identification of children who have not achieved benchmark standa rds at their grade level has become standard across the United States. DIBELS in Florida In the Florida, educatators are now mandated to give universal screening assessments to children from first grade upwards with standardized measures from the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Ea rly Literacy Skills (DIBELS). DIBELS (Good et al., 2001) have seven early literacy measures; fi ve are used in Florida: Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (PSF), Initial Sound Fluency (ISF), Letter Naming Fluency (LNF), and Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF), and Oral Reading Fluency (ORF). Phoneme Segmentati on Fluency addresses competence in


18 phonemic awareness, which is the ability to verbally isolate sounds heard in words into different phoneme units. Initial Sound Fluency refers to the ability to identify the first sound or sounds of a spoken word. Letter Naming Fluency measures the childs ability to correctly say the name of a letter presented in either lower or upper case print. Nonsense Word Fluency measures the rate at which a child can decode nonsense vowel consonant (VC) and consonant vowel consonant (CVC) words. The child is allowed to sound out the nonsense words as individual letter-sound correspondences or blend them to read a nonsense word. The oral reading fluency probes consist of grade appr opriate passages of text that the child is asked to read aloud to an examiner. Th e student is allowed one-minute to read and for the score is the number of wo rds correctly read in one minute. The examiner makes notes on his/ her protocol as to the errors the child makes, so that both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the childs performance can occur. All the early literacy probes are timed and a total score for each can be compared to benchmarks for minimal grade level competency. All of the DIBELS standardized benchmarks given identify whether a score a child receives is above average, l ow risk, moderate risk, or high risk for future reading failure, which is a st atement about the likelihood or probability of meeting the next benchmark. Kamins ki, Cummings, Powell-Smith, and Good (2008) describe how the benchmarks were determined and what they mean. The cutoff scores are determined by a ROC Curve analysis which identifies the probability of a child attaining the next benchmark goal in literacy achievement. The cutoff scores are based on scores in which 20% or less of the children failed


19 to achieve the next benchmark, and then subsequently will be at risk of not achieving benchmark levels on the future reading assessments. DIBELS uses the term benchmark when the childrens scores give them an 80% or higher chance of meeting future literacy goals. The term strategic defines the middle group of children who have a 50% chance of achie ving the next benchmark. Intensive risk level represents those children w ho have a less than 20% chance of achieving the next benchmark, and these children are in the High risk category. Using the DIBELS measures enables educators to identify children with these formative assessment measures, and enables inform ed decisions with respect to what curricular or instructional m odifications might be needed to prevent future reading failure. With the new mandates on universal screening of children and NCLB, educators are pressed to learn how to ad minister the new assessments and then interpret the results in a m eaningful way with regard to strategic teaching. It has become very important to use the assessm ents as tools to accurately identify children who may be at risk for future reading failure. Florida, for example, requires children to pass the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT), taken in spring of third grade, with a level 3 as a prerequisite entry for 4th grade. Children who score Level 1 on the FCAT will likely be retained in third grade. Some conditional provisions exist to permit Level 1 students to be promoted to Grade 4 if a good reason can excuse poor performance or if they perform better on an accepted alternative standardized outcome measure.


20 Retention in grade 3 is a serious pr oblem as not only do children perhaps never catch up with their peer group (e .g., the Matthew effect) (Stanovich, 1986), but it is also an indication of a buildi ng failure to achieve reading competence among every student in the general educa tional system. Schools that do fail AYP two consecutive years must develop a plan for improvement. Other consequences occur if AYP is not met in three years, such as offering students at the school alternate placements and fr ee tuition outside of the re gular school day (US Dept. Education, 2007). Reading achievement scores have become political data which are now gatekeepers to AYP and school s being graded (A-F) and receiving financial rewards or financial penalti es (NCLB 2002). Therefore, with an educational system under reform to achie ve higher academic results, and with the current mandates with frequent assessments, the focus falls on the value of the scores achieved in the assessments. Scor es from both DIBELS and the FCAT are compared to benchmark standards. In part icular, the DIBELS scores are critical in identifying which children need extra support to catch up on deficient skills before they fail later high stakes tests in third grade. The use of DIBELS is important. With the increasing use of early literacy assessments, DIBELS are not intended to inform the educators of master y of one particular content of a reading curriculum (e.g., all 26 letter sound corres pondences), but DIBELS are designed to enable frequent progress monitoring of early literacy skills with variations of individual probes, so that learning progress can be tracked over time. This is important, as primarily they are for formative assessment to guide educators as to which groups of children need extra s upport on specific literacy skills, and also


21 to track individual childrens achievement to ensure future reading success. Although DIBELS have high validity as predictive measures (Castillo, 2005), the primary purpose is to guide instruction, and identify needs. For instance, if a group of children are all identified as High risk, school personnel can make administrative decisions about how to provide time within th e schedule for this group to receive extra inst ruction. Formative assessments therefore can not only help guide instruction and school level de cisions concerning resources, but can also help administrators shape their staff allocation and schedules in measurable ways towards accountability in closing the achievement gaps which have been identified. For this reason, it is crucial that the measures correctly identify the population that is at risk and that cut off scores do not over-predict or underpredict reading failure of the population ex amined. It is not sufficient to only consider criterion va lidity or predictive validity of a test, but also whether tests predict differently for various subpopulat ions or groups. Diff erential prediction would suggest that further investigation into the measures might be needed to rule out bias. Differential Prediction and Bias in Assessments The concern of the accuracy of test and assessment measures has been circulating in educational contexts for ma ny years, because it is important for tests to be considered fair. There are two concep ts that are important to consider when judging the efficacy of a test or assessme nt, firstly differential prediction which refers to systematic error occurring in the accuracy of prediction between the


22 predictor and the outcome measure for two or more groups (Demptster, 2001), and secondly bias which refers to confid ence that the test, including items in it, is not biased against any population for one reason or another (Reynolds, 1990). Differential prediction, a lternately called predictive bias, has been a longstanding concern with tests, and especial ly the race and gender subgroups of the population (Sackett, Laczo, and Lippe, 2003). Differential prediction is commonly assessed using a regression mode l and refers to a finding of a significant difference in the regression equations for two groups, which can be indicated by either differences in sl opes, intercepts, or both (Johnson, Carter, Davison, and Oliver, 2001). Conceptual models of differential prediction. Differential prediction (DP) can be examined from several distin ct methodologies. The first is a subgroup analysis, also called bi-variate anal ysis (Bartlett, B obko, Mosier, & Hannan, 1978), which examines the differences of slope and intercept found of different subgroups when using a predictor test fo r an outcome measure (Dempster, 2001). These types of analysis have frequently b een used in the study of intelligence tests in efforts to investigate possible ra cial bias (Bartlett et al., 1978). The second methodology is the predicta bility of individuals. Ghisielli (1956: 1960a, 1960b) determined it is possible to use a single te st as a predictor for an outcome measure test later in time for one individual. His research demonstrated the efficacy of using a singl e predictor test for a given individual against an outcome measure. Ghiselli di scussed how individuals vary in their individual scores with re gard to accuracy of their predictor test results


23 determining the outcome score accuratel y. He described how some individuals have similar standard scores on predicti on and criterion variables,but some have larger variations. These differences sugge st alternate predictability tests could provide additional information to generate more accurate confidence intervals around the score achieved. This could he lp guide decisions depending on the scores (Dempster, 2001) The third methodology is moderation, and the study of moderator variables. Qualitative moderator variab les could include gender or race, and quantitative variables such as a level of reward that affects the strength or relationship between the predictor an d the outcome measure (Baron & Kenny, 1986). A moderator variable is different from a mediator variable. A mediator variable accounts for the association described between a predictor and outcome measure, whereas a moderator variable imp acts on the association. Zedeck et al. (1971) suggested that the differences in findings between different prediction methodologies could be the results of difficulties comparing quantitative and qualitative techniques. In moderated regres sion analysis, the moderator variable is treated as a quantitative variable, whereas with differential predictability and subgroup analysis, the moderator variables ar e treated qualitatively and nonlinearity is ignored (Dempster, 2001). Therefore, conceptual differences in the regression analysis used are important to discuss when examining issues relating to the assessment of a test. In addition, there are empirical concerns which address how the math in the statistical analysis can give correct results, but misleading answers when


24 limitations of the research design are not sufficiently described (Sackett, Laczo, & Lippe, 2003). An Empirical problem: Omitted variables Apart from conceptual differences, there are also empirical probl ems with differential prediction which relate to the identification or omission of relevant variable s in the regression equation. Just because difference in slopes or intercept values can be determined using regression analysis does not mean the results can truly expl ain bias if it is found, because of the way regression analys is shares variance between variables. This problem only occurs under a specific set of circumstances. A poorly fitting model with a larger error term is created by an omitted variable which is correlated with the criterion variable, but not with the predic tor variable (Johnson, Carter, Davison, & Oliver, 2001). In these circumstances, the regression coefficients for the predictor variable are not biased by the omission of the variable. However, if the omitted variable is correlated with both the criterion and the predictor variables, the coefficients fo r the predictor variable could be biased. To give an example of this problem: if only two true variables existed, for instance effort and gender, and they we re entered into a regression equation examining the prediction of achievement, th e variance of scores proportioned for each factor would be given in a R2result. If hypothetically in this instance no differences were found in slope or inte rcept, a regression line for effort and achievement, and also gender and achieve ment could be demonstrated, and no bias might be determined. However, if there was really a variable omitted, such as socioeconomic class, which correlated highly with the criterion measure of


25 achievement and also a predictor variable of effort, the regres sion equation would not be able to proportion any variance to this variable, because it is omitted, and the variance caused by socio-economic cl ass would be included in the R2 for the variable of effort because of their high correlation with each other. Now, if a regression analysis was run, with only two variables again effort and gender, the effort regression line would appear bias ed, whereas if it were run with three variables: gender, socioeconomic class and effort, the results may determine no bias in effort, but bias by socioeconomi c class, and a different summary could be drawn. For this reason, the way statistical analysis are run, and the results generated from them are important to di scuss, so the results can be fairly determined. In this study, the data include d a wide range of variables, from which two have been selected for analysis of differential prediction: race and gender, while a third socioeconomic status is held constant. If the results in this study find any differential prediction based on the en tering of these variables, and determine bias, when really there is an important variable omitted, such as language spoken at home, the findings from the results w ill appear biased and the accuracy of the analysis could be questioned, because really it is a missing or omitted variable problem. Care in interpretation therefore is crucial, as there are social and political repercussions when a test or assessment measure is considered biased for any reason. Considerable work has been publis hed on the determination of bias, and also on the consequent social effect of a test being determined biased.


26 Bias In 1978, Flaugher published a paper discussing The Many Definitions of Test Bias, in which he discussed the importance of questioning precisely the kind of bias for which a test is being examin ed. His paper discusse d issues related to achievement testing and suggested that a low score could reflect either accomplishment or the capacity to acco mplish. His paper supported the concept of bias. However, he expressed concern that minority groups who performed poorly on measures felt that the tests result ed in an inaccurate portrayal of their ability. He discussed test bias as a reflection of the differences in means between the achievements of two groups towards a desirable goal. He described how test bias could be examined as a single-g roup or differential group validity, for instance with regard to minority groups. In addition, test bias could refer to the content of the test, referring to items on a test that are unfair to certain populations. Notably, the selection criteri on model for fairness, which could be used to determine whether a test was fair or not, was important to consider when discussing selection procedures. The Einhorn and Bass model (1976) and the Cleary model (1965) endorse what can be considered a double st andards philosophy for majority and minority groups, as candidates who scored the same score on a test would be treated differently because of their ethnic identity (Flaugher, 1978). McNemars (1975) work suggested that higher requi rements for minority groups should be required to prevent over-prediction, as w ith differential pred iction there is an over-prediction on minority groups, based on other personal factors not included


27 in prediction equations such as noncognitive personal adjustment issues (Young, 1994). Differential prediction in tests is infrequently identified, but when it is, typically it is found to work in favor of the minority group, when their score is less than the mean for the majority gr oup (Weiss & Prifitera, 1995) but not in their favor when their score is above the mean as with Asian-American childrens IQ performance (Stone, 1992). Secondly, when the regression lines in regression analysis are not running parall el to each other, the gr oup with the higher criterion score is under-predicted (Shields et al., 2004). Lastly, Flaugher (1978) s uggested that there is criterion bias in tests. He elaborated that when using predictor test s and outcome criterion tests, reliability between the two tests is usually base d on the mean differences between, for instance, minority and majority groups. However, when discussing results the mean difference, interpreted as bias, is usually awarded to the predictor test when really it could be assigned to eith er or both the predictor and outcome criterion test because the difference is shared between them both. Finally, Flaugher mentioned atmosphere bias wher e different groups, such as gender or ethnic populations, react differently to a te st emotionally, and this impacts their scores. The important points he raised are still current today. Reynolds (1990) wrote about problem s with bias in psychological assessments with regard to how they impacted on civil law. He cited the 1969 annual general meeting of Black Psyc hologists who were upholding a parents choice to resist psychologi cal testing to determine eligibility for placement of African American children in special educational classes. Reynolds summarized


28 six main concerns related to test bias expressed by ethnic minorities as being: inappropriate content (child ren not exposed to the cu rriculum), inappropriate standardization sample (underrepresente d normative reference group), examiner and language bias (white standard Eng lish), inequitable social consequences (disproportionate representation of ethnic minorities in special education classes), measurement of different constructs (e.g., an IQ test taken by an ethnic minority may only measure the degree to which they have adopted the majority culture), and differential predictive validity (tes ts may more accurately predict outcomes for middle class white children). The determ ination of a test being biased is not because the test generates invalid scores but because determinations and cut-off scores from the test may disproportionately disadvantage a population of the testtakers by failing to take into account other factors which may influence their achievement and account for variance in the predictive validity of the score the group has achieved (Young, 1994) There are, therefore, many different forms of test bias. In an article by Huebner (1990) school psychologists were found to be biased in their assessment of children dependent on the referral concern. School psychologists who received Learning Disability (LD) referrals were likely to diagnose the child as LD in comparison to psychologists who received the same sample simulated report, but were told the referral was gifted, who diagnosed gifted. Issu es surrounding bias, conformational bias, and factors that c ontribute towards bias continue to be important to educators today, as this directly impacts special education


29 placements, federal dollars for funding, as well as the children who will have a label during their formative years. Bias affecting civil law Civil law cases have reflected arguments raised for many years, and questions related to fai rness and/or bias still affect children of color. Ferri and Connor (2005, 2005a) de scribe the historical segregation of African American and White children in school system and delays to desegregation in the Southern states un til the courts intervened in the 1960s. When desegregation was enforced, distri cts were entitled to place children in appropriate settings for educ ational service deli very, and IQ testing was used to determine eligibility for special educa tion. In addition, an increase of special education classes was made to accomm odate the greater nu mbers of AfricanAmerican students who were to be integrated into the school system. In Washington D.C. in 1955-1956, the number of white students in special education was 3%, whereas the number of African American students enrolled in special education classes was 77% (Ferri & Connor, 2005a). As a result of what was considered widespread institutionalized prejudice against minority groups, civil lawsuits began to challenge the status of the children identified as learning disabled and question the use of the IQ test as a valid qualifier for African American children for special educationa l placement (Diana v. State Board of Education, 1970). Further lawsuits such as Larry P. v. Riles in 1979 resulted in rulings in which the presiding judge decide d IQ tests could not be administered to African-American children in the state of California to determine placement in special education classes. This ru ling was intended to rectify the


30 overrepresentation of African-American child ren in special education classes. The judge discussed the IQ test as being unfair because it determined the cutoff of <70 to represent functional retardation despite the fact that a difference was found for normal performance for African-American ch ildren and white children. The social IQ of an African-American child was cons idered normal at 70, although within the white population of children, this re presented retardation. Newsweek, July 27th, 1987, reported on a case where a letter was sent to the home of an AfricanAmerican child, who was not performing well in school, which stated the school would like to give a battery of psyc ho-educational assessments for special education qualification but because the child was Black they would not be proceeding. The school was not prepared to go against a ruling made by US District Court Judge Robert Peckam which stated that IQ tests are racially and culturally biased. He ordered that to protect Black child ren against unfair discrimination, no African-American student in California, regardless of academic record, economic status or a parent's wishes could be given an IQ test. This later created difficulties for African-American children who were not eligible for special services because they were no t able to participate in the required assessments that enabled eligibility (Baker, 1987). The entire concept of one cut-off sc ore for mental retardation has been troublesome. In 1959, the American Association on Mental De ficiency (AAMD) set the lower cut off score at 85. This was overturned in 1973 because half of the African-American population tested fell be neath this figure, and the score was lowered one standard deviation to <70. The Larry P. v. Riles (1979) court case


31 ruled that IQ tests were not valid fo r African-Americans because AfricanAmerican school children and their parents successfully argued th at IQ tests were biased and culturally loaded. Consequentl y, the state of California altered their policies used to determine special edu cational placement, and in 1971, a statewide ban on intelligence quotient (IQ) tests for us e with Black students in California, was enacted. In 1994, a federal appeals court ruled against the ban, because this barred eligibility to special education via traditionally accepted assessments (Pamela Lewis v. New Haven School Distri ct, 1994). However, the California Department of Education is still upholding the ban. The seriousness of bias and determination of bias affects policies, school administrators, school psychologists, and test makers, and affects the determination of the content validity of the tests, th e population sampling in their trials from which the standardized sc ores are determined, and the validity coefficients for test trials. Issues related to bias therefore affect all standardized test makers, achievement tests, and government policies (e.g., NCLB, which requires schools to report the achievemen t of their students disaggregated into ethnic and demographic groups, NCLB, 2001). Methodological measurement of bias Measurement of test bias takes different forms. Item bias refers to anal ysis of the individual question content. A second form is a methodological statistical analysis, such as regression analysis, which can examine scores for trends and differences. Regression analysis generates a slope for predictive validity or a regression line that determines the trend line of a given set of sc ores (e.g., in a scatter plot ). There are different kinds


32 of regressions that can be performed on data, and each has unique qualities. A simple linear regression examines one re lationship between one variable and one criterion. A hierarchical regression examines the unique contribution each variable makes in a given order, so that variance can be attr ibuted proportionately to each variable. There are many differen t forms of regression equation modeling. The choice of regression model used will affect the pr oportion of Type 1 (rejecting a true null hypothesis) and T ype II (failing to reject a false null hypothesis) errors made, as well as the si gnificance factor of the results. If a regression analysis reveals different slopes for different groups, and a significant difference is found between the differences a measure is cons idered potentially biased. However, as discussed in different ial prediction, results of regressions can be misleading if there are omitted variables that are affecting the results. For this reason, if any form of bias is found with a statistical tool, it is important to examine the evidence further to determin e which factors present or not present may be influencing the results. Bias in curriculum-based measurement To date, little research has examined bias in curriculum-based measurement (CBM). A web-based search in EBSCO host on October 25th, 2006 produced only 4 results for a search on bias and CBM: Wilkie (2002), Evans-Hamp ton, Skinner, and Henington (2002), Hintze, Callahan III, Mathews, Williams, and Tobin (2002), and Kranzler, Miller, and Jordan (1999). A similar search in OVID on March 18th, 2007 produced only 309,521 results for bias, 1154 results for CBM, and 129 results for bias and CBM. However, of these only five were dir ectly relevant to this research in bias


33 in reading assessments: Evans-Hampton, Skinner, Henington, Sims, and McDaniel (2002) Hintze, Callahan, Matthew s, Williams, and Tobin (2002); Knoff and Dean (1994); and Kranzler, Miller, and Jordan (1999). Ethnic bias Kranzler et al. (1999) were the first to publish research on bias in CBM. Their research examined racial and ethnic bias in curriculum-based measurement of reading. Kranzler et al. used simultaneous multiple regression lines on grades 2 through 5 and measured performance across different ethnicity groups. They found that the slope lines overestimated the reading achievement of AfricanAmerican students at grades 4 and 5 but underestimated the achievement of Caucasian students. They found no differen ces in slope or intercept at grades 2 and 3. Kranzler et al. co ncluded CBM failed to dem onstrate unbiased indication of performance. However, Hintze et al. (2002) have descri bed several limitations with their research. Firstly, they used a theoretical model that combined the influence of developmental levels, because different CBM passages were administered for different grade levels, and this precluded a comparison between grades. Secondly, because they used separa te passages they were not able to combine the results. They used simultaneous regression analysis, and were unable to make one prediction model. Thirdly, as separate regressions were run at each age, a critical developmental indicator was omitted from the analysis. In addition, varying sample sizes across groups caused unusual variances in results and made the likelihood of Type 1 error greater. Fi nally, Kranzler et al did not account for socioeconomic status as a variable.


34 Evans-Hampton et al. (2002) examined situational bias in covert and overt timing during math CBM assessments w ith African American and Caucasian students. They described situational bi as to be when the testing conditions differently affected the performance of diverse groups. The results found that although accuracy increased during cons picuous timing conditions, there was no interaction between ethnic ity and timing condition. Hintze et al. (2002) examined oral r eading fluency and the prediction of reading comprehension in African Amer ican and Caucasian elementary school children. A series of hierarchical multiple regressions analysis found that there were no ethnic differences in over-prediction or under-prediction once age, sex, and SES were controlled. Hintze et al. (2002) examined ethnic bias in reading comprehension scores with African-Ameri can and Caucasian students and used a regression model which controlled for SE S. Once SES was controlled, they found no significant difference in the slope of the regres sion lines between the two ethnic groups, suggesting there were no differences in prediction. However, the proportion of variance explained in the R2 varied between the two groups and was significantly higher (better at explaining the variance in test scores) for the African-American population than it was for the Caucasian students. This study is interesting because it presents findings contrary to a study published in the Journal of Black Psychology (Bell & Clark, 1998). Bell and Clark (1998) found that Afri can-American children had better recall and comprehension on stories that reflected African-American themes. However, as the Bell and Clark (1998) study did not compare the recall


35 performance of African-American and Ca ucasian children, and only used AfricanAmerican children, their results can not de termine to what ex tent the non-AfricanAmerican stories produce biased results for either group. This result is interesting, because the outcome measures used in the Bell and Clark research are reading comprehension tests. This study suggests th at the social conten t within the reading comprehension can affect recall with African-American children, and their performance can vary as a result of the materials they read. Although the study does not relate to bias in the use of CBM it shows the diversity of research and interest in the topic of bi as, ethnicity and performance. The implications of this research are that passages selected for CBM research should be selected with a respect for diversity of culture. More recently, research has examined CBM probes for gender bias (Wilkie, 2002). One hundred ninety 5th and 6th grade students were administered three CBM reading probes and the Terra Nova standardized achievement test. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was used to assess the possibility of either slope or intercept differences. The results of the multiple regression analysis showed no evidence of differentia l prediction for either gender or SES. Their findings suggest that CBM reading probes are a valid predictor of reading achievement regardless of gender or SES. Multiple variables of race and SES also have been examined (McGlinchey & Hixson, 2004). McGlinchey and Hixson ( 2004) examined whether oral reading fluency scores differentially predicted achievement performance on state reading assessments across different socioeco nomic and ethnic groups. The results


36 indicated that there were intercept diffe rences when predicting the state reading test using the oral r eading fluency scores. Results show ed that the test scores of the African-American and low-income st udents were over-predicted, while the scores of the Caucasian and higher-in come students were under-predicted. Gender bias There is considerable eviden ce of gender-related concerns in education. Nationally, boys are report ed to have less success within the academic system, as evidenced by decreasing male enrollment on college campuses over the last 30 years (Tyre, 2006). Boys are also more likely than girls to be referred for special educational a ssessments because of their difficulties in the classroom. Freeman (2005) report ed that in 1999, 12.5% of boys were identified as learning disabled versus 6.6% of girls, and 3.8% of boys compared to 1.9% of girls were iden tified with an emotional di sability (Raffaele Mendez, Mihalas, and Hardesty, 2006). Prochnow, Tunmer, Chapman and Greaney (2001) examined gender differences in reading achievement but found that there were no significant differences between performances of boys and girls on outcome measures, although boys were identified for reading re mediation twice as often as girls The New Zealand Education Review Office (ERO) concluded that boys and girls learned and responded in diffe rent ways and achieved be st results with different teaching styles (Prochnow, Tunmer, Chapman, & Greaney, 2001). Although no early differences in gender achievement were found, later differences did emerge, and were thought to reflect the tendency of boys to engage more frequently in behaviors that impede lear ning. Evidence for this idea is found in other studies


37 indicating that boys are more disruptive, aggressive, and inattentive than girls (Bussing, Zima, Belin & Forness, 1998), and are more frequently referred for difficult or challenging be haviors (Kauffman, 1977). In a study by Klein and Jimmers on (2005), mean differences were found in performance between girl s and boys in second grade, with girls achieving significantly higher scores. Their study ex amined reading fluency probes for bias for gender, and found no evidence of bias for gender or ethnicity. Only one significant group mean difference was found for gender at the second grade level, and this difference was not replicated in other grade levels. The findings suggested that oral read ing fluency assessments predict equally across both genders for reading proficiency. MacMillan (2000) examined the accu racy of simultaneous measurement of reading growth for gender and age-re lated effects using a many-faceted Rasch model applied to CBM reading scores. The study examined a sample of 1691 students from grades two to seven, randomly selected within grades from 53 elementary schools. The number of student s in each grade were approximately equal. All students comple ted reading and writing ta sks, and a many-faceted Rasch model was used to investigate r eading growth, gender differences, relative age differences and reading probe difficulties. Patterns of results were examined across grades. Results showed an indicati on of growth in read ing fluency within each grade, but a decrease in rate occurs in both grades two and three. The statistical gender differences found in this study amounted to an average of approximately two months across all grades but represented a small effect size.


38 He concluded there were consistent differe nces favoring girls, but only equivalent to one months growth. MacMillan noted that for gender across grades in schools, a weighted mean result across grades woul d represent an accurate description of elementary school gender effects in read ing performance, and that separate qualifications for gender should not be us ed as explanations for achievement by teachers or parents. Chiu and McBride-Chang (2006) found support for gender differences in reading achievement across 45 countries. In a meta-analysis of data prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperati on and Development, within their program for International Student Asse ssment (OECD-PISA), double blind trials of reading achievement and assessment frameworks were examined. Reading achievement was modeled using measures of gender, SES, number of books at home, and enjoyment in reading. All inde xes including SES were standardized to a mean of 0 across the OECD countries w ith a standard deviation of 1. Results showed that girls outperformed boys in every country, with the exception of Romania and Peru. This demonstrated th e gender phenomenon is not isolated to one country, despite differences in la nguages between countries. The variance apportioned for gender was small, .14, but significant. The research suggested explanatory models for the results sh ould seek answers from three domains: country, school, and student. Although the most variance was attributed to gender differences, other variables included pleas ure in reading. Girls enjoyment of reading correlated with their higher pe rformance. Thus, variance in reading achievement might also occur as a result of the context in which reading is taught


39 and learned. In summary, the gender diffe rences may in part be attributed to cultural differences (Knopik, Alarcon, & DeFries, 1998). Clearly, research supports evidence for gender differences but limited research has been conducted on gender bias and no research on bias on childrens first grade performance in reading. A search on Sage Full text CSA Illumina on October 25th, 2006, revealed 3,561 results for all publications in gender and bias, with 2544 publications in peer-revie wed journals. It is interesting to note that, despite the number of gender studies, none related to CBM. A separate search for reading achievement, bias, a nd gender produced a result of 31 peer reviewed articles. These included two on CBM, one of which was an analysis of the effect of CBM reading measures a nd reading achievement in fifth-grade students and discussed how st udent differences in interpretation of instructions could affect a trade-off between scores in accuracy and production (Colon, Proesel, & Kranzler, 2006). One other article evaluated the use of CBM in reading as a predictor for achievement in reading Hebrew (Kaminitz-Berkooz, & Shapiro, 2005), but gender issues were not specifically addressed. The researchers also did not specifically address any bias issues but confirmed the sensitivity of ORF assessments in progress monitoring. Their results revealed significantly lower scores from children receiving special help for reading to those children in general education. It was found that ORF was applicab le to evaluating children who were learning to read in Hebrew a nd that the one minute accuracy versus production assessment of the ORF measure is a valid indicator of current reading performance (Kaminitz-Berkooz & Shapiro, 2005).


40 Socioeconomic status (SES) bias A search on Sage Full Text CSA Illumina on October 26th, 2006 produced 1,197 results for socioeconomic status and bias. Interestingly enough, when the search was narrowed to socioeconomic and bias and CBM, only two results remained: McGlinchy and Hixson (2004), and a second on the applicability of CBM on measuring reading performance in reading Hebrew by children from grades 1-5 in Israel (the Klein & Jimmerson article did not show on this search). The McGlinchy and Hixson research has already been discussed. The Kaminitz -Berkooz and Shapiro (2005) did not specifically address bias in SES but controlled for th is by only selecting schools for the study which had populations from average SES households. The article noted that bias in ethnicity need not be taken into account when developmental levels in children are considered and c oncluded that CBM is a valid measurement tool regardless of SES or ethnicity. Klein and Jimmerson (2005) examined ethnic, gender, language and SES bias in oral reading fluenc y (ORF) probes. Their results determined that it is a combination of factors that significantly shapes results to contribute to intercept differences. Overall, they found home language to be the strongest factor influencing results when examining the score results of Hispanic childrens performance in comparison to Caucasian children. Analysis of the influence of SES in conjunction with home language usage across different grade levels revealed no significant findings of slope differences as a function of SES and home language. Notably, their study show ed that once SES was controlled, there were no significant slope differences in achievement, between any of the ethnic


41 groups sampled although intercept differences did exist. Their results showed that when using a common regression equation, oral reading fluency measures overpredicted the reading prof iciency (as measured by SAT-9 Total Reading) of Hispanic students whose home language was Spanish. Additionally, that the scores of Caucasian students whose home language was English were underpredicted. Because Klein and Jimmerson used a regression model which yielded intercept differences but similar slopes, they reported no bias between any groups on performance of the measures. However, criterion-bias or differences were evident because the intercepts were diffe rent for each group. Shields et al. (2004) noted in their research that in regression equations, crit erion-related bias exists whenever intercept differences are presen t in a regression analysis, as one group will be systematically either under or over-predicted. Therefore, when examining the literature on bias, it is important to clarify what form of bias is being examined, or ruled out, and note that although one form of bias may not be evident, another form of bias may yet exist. Previous research on DIBELS There is considerable research on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) to examine thei r use in the proble m-solving role of using assessment to guide instruction. The problem-solving aspect of tiered delivery to general and special education requires tools that demonstrate accurate and reliable results, can be compared to criterion constructs, have good predictive validity, and can be used for frequent progress monitoring, and subsequent


42 evaluation of curriculum, instruction and effectiveness of intervention (US Department of Education, Technical Assistance Paper 12740, 2006). A database web search on DI BELS in EBSCO on March 20th, 2007 produced 28 results, of which 18 were dissertations, and 10 peer-reviewed journals. The research spanned across th ree main categories: the use of DIBELS measures as part of a problem-solving and formative assessment (e.g., Elliott, Huai & Roach, 2007; Coyne & Harn, 2006; Elliott, Lee, & Tollefson, 2001; Good & Kaminski, 1996); the reliability and valid ity, including predictive validity of DIBELS measures (e.g., Roberts, Good, & Corcoran, 2005; Hintze, Ryan, & Stoner, 2003); and the use of DIBELS as progress monitoring tools (e.g., Register, 2004; Kamps, Wills, Greenw ood, Thorne, Lazo, Crockett, Akers, & Swaagart, 2003; Haagar, & Windmueller, 2001). Research using DIBELS fo r formative assessments The research articles reviewed in this section were listed on the EBSCO search on DIBELS. Elliott, Huai, and Roach (2007) researched the e fficacy of using DIBELS and the Brief Academic Competence Evaluation Scr eening System (BACESS; Elliott & DiPerna, 2003) measures as screening tools in early elementary years for assessing academic enabling behaviors in key areas, and concluded future directions for functional screening should now be di rected toward preschool children to facilitate early interventions. The article featured a discussion of two forms of early screening measures: BA CESS and DIBELS, a comparison of their cut-off scores, and reliability to predict future reading achievement. Elliott et al. were impressed with the treatment utility of DIBELS, and its ability to predict


43 early reading achievement, for instance, be ing able to differe ntiate kindergarten children for reading readiness. Both in struments were identified as having good sensitivity indexes for identifying child ren with reading or related academic difficulties. However, both instruments were also found to have poor specificity indexes, and over-identified children w ith reading problems when they did not have them. The importance of informativ e preschool screening for academic and social behaviors was discussed with regard to guiding interventions and planning instruction, to enable children with weaker skills to be identified for remedial and intensive instruction to repair and prevent further deficit skills. Coyne & Harn (2006) wrote an empirical article examining the use of four DIBELS measures for use by school psyc hologists to help with assessment of early literacy skills b: (a ) screening, (b) diagnosis, (c) progress monitoring, and (d) student outcomes. This set of assessment decisions is consistent with the National Reading First Assessment Comm ittees conclusion (Kameenui, 2002) that school-wide assessments should include the measurement of skills by databased screening, diagnosis, progress m onitoring, and student outcomes. Their study supported the use of DIBELS to f acilitate educative and administrative decisions, and encouraged school psychologist s to take an active role in using data to make informed and timely stra tegic decisions. A lthough their article promoted the functional assessment proce ss, they did not review any limitations in the current educational systems wh ich may hinder the use of functional assessment such as teacher resistance, funding, or system-level changes necessary for implementing a problem-solv ing system using universal screening.


44 Elliott, Lee and Tollesfon (2001) examined a battery of DIBELS measures: Letter Naming, Sound Naming, Initial Phoneme Awareness, and Phoneme Segmentation. These four measures, then referred to as the DIBELS-M, were assessed using the Woodcock Johns on Pyscho-Educational Achievement Battery Revised (WJ-R, Woodcock and Johnson, 1989, 1990); the Test of Phonological Awareness Kindergarten form ( TOPA; Torgeson & Byrant, 1994); and the Kaufmann Brief Intelligen ce Test (K-BIT, Kaufman & Kaufman, 1990). Seventy-five kindergarten child ren from three elementary schools participated in the research. The DIBELS-M were assessed as predictor measures for three achievement measures, a teacher -rating scale and an intelligence test. Students were tested every two weeks indi vidually, and the results were analyzed using regression analysis. Three types of reliability estimates were computed: interrater reliability, test-retest reliabilit y, and alternate forms of reliability. They found good evidence of reliability an d validity correspondence between the measures (.80 or higher) in identifying children in need of intervention, a correspondence between pre-r eading skills, and a signi ficant prediction of all criterion achievement measures. In a ddition, the relationships between the DIBELS-M measures and four achieveme nt measures were analyzed using hierarchical regression analyses. The part ial correlation coefficients between the Fluency Composite and the achievement measures after ability had been accounted for were significant. Their re sults confirmed other research by Daly, Wright, Kelly & Martens (1997) by findi ng strong correlations between the DIBELS-M and the Woodcock-Johnson Skills Cluster and a relationship between


45 pre-reading and math fluency developmen t in young children. They supported the end of year benchmarks for DIBELS m easures, but mentioned a need for more early benchmarks for the fall of first grade to facilitate more time for interventions. The use of DIBELS measures to promote systematic assessment of young children was supported to enable educat ors to help identify children at risk for future reading failure so that th ey might be provided with additional instruction. A limitation of th e study is that it did not identify any relationship between identification of children with at -risk deficits, or the curriculum with which they were instructed. Although the researchers promoted the use of DIBELS in kindergarten to facilitate an earlier identification of remediation for problems, there was no mention of th e average length of time any group of children spent at any one fluency level, or how much instruction might be needed to remedy the gaps between risk levels. It would have been helpful to know how much literacy instruction the children we re receiving in this study, so that the predictive relationship of th e assessment could be gene ralized to other groups. Good and Kaminski (1996) demonstrated the use of DIBELS as part of a functional assessment to guide instru ction and make pro-active preventive intervention decisions using a case study as an example. Their study clearly linked the use of DIBELS to the recommended use of a problem solving approach to educational and administrative deci sion making via: problem identification, analysis, intervention, and ev aluation, and this practical system of identifying childrens needs is still current toda y. Kaminski, Cummings, Powell-Smith, and Good (2008) have since authored a chapter which explicitly guides the reader


46 through the process of using DIBELS meas ures for formative assessment to guide instruction, progress monitor and also evaluate the effectiven ess of instruction. There are case histories and empirical ex amples. The reader is reminded that the function of DIBELS is not to provide a goal in the assessment itself, but to provide a tool for active decision maki ng to respond to needs of individual children or classes to help meet indivi dual current and futu re expectations. An interesting development in the re search on DIBELS is the dissertation by Greer (2006) that investigated th e relationship between DIBELS PSF and NWF and Piagetian developmental stages. Greer used Chi square and regression analyses to determine a positive relati onship between NWF, PSF and the partwhole reasoning stage in Piagets de velopmental theory. His research on 39 kindergarten children found evidence of a developmental curve for phoneme segmentation. Limitations of the study in cluded the sample size, but the concept of linking benchmark assessments to a developmental core construct is a new development in DIBELS research. Research on reliability, validity and predictive validity of DIBELS There are two recent studies which examine th e reliability, validity and predictive validity of DIBELS measur es. Roberts, Good and Corcoran (2005) discussed the importance of using an oral reading flue ncy measure to help understand childrens fluency development. Their research used the Vital Indicators of Progress (VIP), developed by Dr. Roland Good at the University of Oregon, are part of the Voyager Universal Literacy (VUL) program. The VIP are an alternate form of the DIBELS. First graders from six schools participated in a battery of tests, 90%


47 were African-American and all received free or reduced-price lunches. The research concluded the VIP had good reliab ility (.89 for one passage), and (.96 for three passages) and would provide an ex cellent alternative screening tool. The alternate form of the rete ll fluency ranged from .57 to .90. For students who were of concern, retests had an excellent reliability (r=.92). The results of this study provided support for DIBELS early liter acy assessments. Limitations of the research include minimal accounting of the difficulty of administering the test, or limitations of training people to give the assessments. With the current demand for school psychologists to perform eval uations, there was limited discussion on how the results of the assessm ent could guide instruction. Hintze, Ryan, and Stoner (2003) examin ed the DIBELS validity using the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Pro cessing (CTOPP). In a random selection of 86 kindergarten children from a sample of 161, with 93% Caucasian, the Initial Sound Fluency (ISF), Letter Naming Fluency (LNF), and Phonemic Segmentation Fluency (PSF) measures were administer ed in a counterbalanced experimental design to predict the CTOPP outcome meas ure. Moderate to strong correlations were found, and the article discussed the im plications of the large number of true positive children DIBELS identified, compared to the smaller number of false positives. It was recommended that children who were screened and identified with DIBELS should also be assessed w ith other sources of information. The use of low cut-off scores to help determine allocation of teaching and resources for maximum chance of succeeding on future High Stakes tests were discussed as an


48 implication of current benchmarks. A lim itation of the research was a lack of ethnic diversity, as their sample did not match the current US census for 2003. Research on progress monitoring with DIBELS Many studies support DIBELS as part of an assessment program however the following three research articles support the efficacy of DIBELS as a progress monitoring tool. Progress monitoring is important because of curre nt changes in education accountability which requires schools to monitor children s response to gene ral education and intervention. The following studies demonstrate the use of DIBELS as an assessment tool which is sensitive to cha nge in childrens performance, which can be used to help guide decisions a bout the efficacy of the instruction. Register (2004) used DIBELS to he lp progress monitor changes in early literacy skills after receiving a music in tervention. The purpose of the study was to research the effects of two compet ing interventions designed to promote reading skills: music therapy and a television broadcast Between the Lions, which is targeted for kindergarten child ren. The 86 participants were from a low socioeconomic background in Northwest Florida. Children were randomly assigned to one of four conditions, including a control group. Measurements included DIBELS measures, three subtests of the Test of Early Reading Ability3rd edition. (TERA-3). Teachers perceptions pre and post test were also measured with surveys, and on and off-task behavi ors of children were monitored between conditions. Results of the seven subtes ts for early literacy were varied. The Music/Video and Music-Only groups achieve d the highest mean score differences from pre to post test on four of the subt ests. The children in the Video-Only group


49 achieved higher scores on the phoneme se gmentation portion of the DIBELS than children in the Music/Video group. Regi ster found strong correlations for LNF and ISF and the total raw scores with the Test of Early Reading Ability 3rd Edition (TERA). Off-task behaviors improved and higher scores on phonemic awareness were reported. The study conf irmed that music increased childrens on-task behaviors, and supported the need for further investiga tion into enhancing curricula for students from low socio economic backgrounds. The sensitivity of DIBELS to monitor studen t progress in an early literacy skill of phonemic awareness was instrumental in this re search to help assess the efficacy of instruction received. It is important that screening tool s are effective with a variety of populations. Benchmarks determined by test developers need car eful attention to ensure their efficacy with diverse po pulation groups. The following study by Kamps et al. (2003) is important because it assessed the efficacy of using DIBELS measures in screening children from culturally diverse backgrounds and low socioeconomic status. The purpose of the study was to monitor growth longitudinally over a 3-year period in early reading performan ce of students from kindergarten through second grade. Th e 380 participating children were monitored for performance during a reading curriculum intervention. The research questions included determining the proporti on of children identified as at risk using Systematic Screening for Behavi oral Disorders (SSBD) and DIBELS (Letter Naming and Nonsense Word Fl uency) measures, examination of trajectories of growth to see if th ere was correspondence between difference


50 measures, the influence on performance of different curricula, and interactions between risk level identified and cu rriculum provided. Seven-hundred thirty students participated in the study. Multip le gating screening mechanisms were used including behavior screening measur es and academic screening procedures. The results confirmed that ea rly screening for behavior and academic risks can be reliably conducted in urban elementary schools, and the DIBELS measures were found to empirically confirm a reading trajectory toward reading proficiency. DIBELS scores also reflected changes resulting from different curriculum, and confirmed that primary le vel reading curriculum can impact performance. Limitations of the study included the low pe rcentage of returned parental consent forms, and further replication of the study with other samples was recommended. A second limitation is that systematic measurement of the curriculum content, delivery of the curriculum, or teacher effectiveness were not featured. It is difficult to control for these kinds of differences in a na turalistic setting. However, the utility of DIBELS as an integral pa rt of progress monitoring curriculum and intervention effectiveness was demonstrated. The use of DIBELS for progress monitoring has also been documented with English Language learners. This is important because of the diversity in the student population in the United States, and the influence that speaking a second or other language at home has on childre ns reading development. Haagar and Windmueller (2001) used DIBELS to help evaluate the effectiveness of student and teacher outcomes of early literacy sk ill progress following an intervention for English Language Learners and LD child ren in regular education. Their sample


51 included 335 students, most (98%) of wh om were Hispanic. These students were monitored with Word Use Sentence Fluency (WSF), PSF, NWF, ORF, and LNF. The testing completed three times a year revealed significant numbers of children fell below benchmark expectations. Resu lts showed that first graders made upward growth in each skill area, but met benchmark levels later on a later timeframe than expected. The extent to which NWF, as a measure of alphabetic principle, predicted later Oral Reading Fl uency (ORF) at mid year and end of year was also evaluated. The trendline demonstr ated that NWF was predictive of ORF, but not all students who achieved benchm arks on NWF also achieved this on ORF. In addition, the use of intervention effectiveness was evaluated. Teachers reported that DIBELS were very effective because it provided them with immediate feedback on student performan ce. Using the results of the DIBELS measures enabled them to restructure the class focus in planning and instruction to meet the needs of the class better. Specific examples of the effect of using data from DIBELS included regrouping childre n by risk levels, and implementing workshops for special instruction to target deficit skills. This is particularly important when documenting student perf ormance and outcomes in the increased current climate of accountability. Problem s delivering interventions in a school system that does not facilitate bilingual education were discussed, especially the importance of teacher professional devel opment. Limitations of the research include a lack of clarity about the statistical analysis used, and also lack of details about the curriculum the ch ildren were instructed i n. Although students with learning disabilities and English language learning children were mentioned as


52 having similar at risk problems, diffe rences were not accounted for, and distinctions between the two groups were unclear with regard to recommendations. Limitations of progress monitoring children whose first language is not English were not compre hensively outlined. Nevertheless, the use of DIBELS measures for these populations as an accurate prediction for future reading achievement was clearly demonstrated. Nonsense Word Fluency Nonsense Word Fluency, one of th e DIBELS subtests which measures alphabetic principle has been featured in a growing body of research. First of all, there continues to be support for NWF as a problem-solving screening and progress monitoring tool essential in pr ogress monitoring early literacy, secondly there is further evidence of the reliabilit y, validity and predicti ve validity of NWF for various outcomes, and finally there is evidence supporting the use of NWF as a tool in evaluation of instruction an d curriculum. Studies to support these qualities will be reviewed in the following section. NWF as a problem-solving tool Healy, Vanderwood, and Edelston (2006) researched the use of NWF as one of the progress monitoring tools of a group of first grade children to help de termine the Tier of intervention they needed, and to evaluate the critical as sumption in response to intervention (RtI) that English language learners (ELL) can benefit from intensive structured instruction. The importance of using an early literacy assessment tool was discussed as an integral feature of the problem-solving, and also RtI approach to determine eligibility for special education (Gresham & Witt, 1997). The study


53 was interested in examining the use of the RtI model with ELL students to determine who needs additional intens ive services. Two-hundred fifty-nine children were screened in a low soci oeconomic urban school setting, and 25 students who obtained less than mastery (r eceiving scores of 30 or below the 25% level, AIMSweb 2004) were selected for the study, and 15 were in the final sample. Children were progress m onitored while receiving a phonological intervention two times a week for 30 minutes. A single case AB design was implemented, with a token economy beha vior support system where children could receive a prize in exchange for st ars obtained during intervention sessions. Of one cohort of first grader s, fifteen children screened were identified as in need of Tier Two intervention, and three went to Tier Three. Of the fifteen children who received Tier Two intervention, twelve were later able to return to Tier One, based on successful implementation of an intervention using a token economy system. The data from this study lend s upport to using RtI, and PSF and NWF as assessment tools within the problem-solving model of 3-Tiered service delivery for English Language Learners. The impor tance of this research was both to indicate that the RtI model was effectiv e with identifying and intervening with ELL children, but also to determine that by monitoring the childrens responses to intervention, the school psychologists time could be more effectively used. Reschly (2000) described the typical sc hool psychologist as spending 50% of the day testing, with only 20% of their day conducting direct interventions. In this study, only three hours per week were sp ent implementing and evaluating an


54 intervention with the lowest performi ng children in one school, yielding only three children who needed special services. This aspect of using early literacy sc reeners as part of a RtI model for educational assessments is important Another study by Good, Simmons, and Kameenui (2001) researched the decision making utility of a continuum of fluency-based indicators of foundational re ading skills for third grade children for predicting reading outcomes. Their research highlighted the value of DIBELS as prevention-orientated assessments, help ing schools achieve accountability by using the measures to evaluate instruction. Four cohorts of children from K-3 participated in assessments and the benc hmarks were evaluated by percentages of students achieving them. Scatterp lots were used to describe zones of performance. Ninety percent of the children reached the benchmark goals for first grade, and these scores were called Zone A. Of 70% of the students receiving a score below 30, only 7% achieved benchmark scores in the following grade. Children identified in zones B and C had less ch ance of meeting further benchmarks. The scores of the children in zone D had th e least likelihood of success, and did not reach benchmark by grade 2. The concept of DIBELS guiding instruction is based on identifying those children who need ex tra interventions to stay on track for benchmarks, and the different predictive validities of different le vels of scoring is relevant to this study which will be examining NWF scores for differential prediction. Limitations of the study include lack of longitudinal monitoring of the progress of the children identified, and also lack of ability to confirm treatment integrity with curriculum delivery, in that different schools across districts may


55 implement the curriculum differently. A concern raised is that the end goal children achieve is not determined by the initial entry scores they achieve on early screening measures. The study confirmed the utility of using NWF to inform instructional decisions, and supported current findings that early identification can give educators the time to implement necessa ry and effective interventions to help improve reading outcomes for all children. Reliability, validity, and predic tive validity studies with NWF An important consideration in early assessment tools is that the United States has a diverse culture with some groups speaki ng English as a second language. It is therefore important to examine the extent to which a predictor tool serves a population that has English as a seco nd or other language. Spanish speaking students are among the fastest growing co mmunity in the United States, and typically have reading achievement that is lower than Caucasian students (National Center for Educatio nal Statistics). For this reas on, research that explores the effectiveness of assessment tools with the Spanish speaking children is important, and not only helps id entify variables that contribu te to learning to read, but also helps identify which children need early interven tion. Lopez (2001) examined the role of phonological aw areness and other pre-reading skills including letter knowledge and lette r sound correspondence. There were 97 participants who were students in a Bilingual Education (BE) program, and 59 students who received instruction for Eng lish as a second language with a Second Language Program (ESL). Students prer eading skills were tested with three measures: Phoneme Segmentation Fluenc y (PSF), Letter Naming Fluency (LNF),


56 and Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF). A regression analysis used a combination of the Reading-Curriculum Based Meas urement (R-CBM) and the Woodcock Johnson or Woodcock Munoz. LNF was found to be the better predictor for both the ESL and BE groups, explaining 42% and 40% of the variance respectively. NWF was found to be the best predictor for the Bilingual Education (BE) group, explaining 47% of the variance of scor es when examining the WJ-3 Woodcock Munoz for BE. These results support the us e of NWF as a predictor assessment to guide instruction and early identification of children at risk of future reading failure. In addition to examine the efficacy of an assessment for diverse language speakers, the use of information from tests has been explored. Good, Baker, and Peyton (2007) examined the role of initi al NWF score and NWF slope of progress for predicting end of the year DIBELS ORF and found the slope to be an important predictor. There were two sa mples in this study. One was from the Oregon Reading First Data Base (OR) and includ ed 2172 children from Oregons Reading First schools who were monitored for first grade outcomes. The second sample was from the DIBELS Data System (DDS) which had 358,032 participants, of which 32, 044 students from the first grade in the 2001-2002 school year were selected (Good, Bake r, & Peyton, 2007). NWF assessments were given by trained reading specialis ts, teachers and coaches during the benchmark assessment periods in the school year. Progress monitoring data were also collected according to each of the 34 schools policy on individual monitoring. This study gave explicit de tails about calcula ting the slope of


57 childrens performance by calculating the rate of progress between two assessment periods. This equation creates a prediction for the trendline of the childs progress, and helps determine if th e child is responding to instruction at a rate sufficient to close any achievement gaps. Results from the study suggest that not only is the initial score or intercept point important when considering a childs performance, but their rate of progress a nd response to intervention is critical as well. Rates of progress and slopes of performance need to be timely, and facilitate the closure of achievement ga ps between risk groups. By monitoring both the risk level and also the slope of the childs pe rformance, data can support whether a child is sufficiently responsive to education to incr ease or decrease the tier of support they are re ceiving. Nonsense Word Fluency is thus not only sensitive to small changes, but using data to plot progress, administrators have accountability for educational decisions wh ich guide instruction. A challenge to this kind of field research is to dete rmine the integrity of the teaching and intervention delivery when assessing the im pact on slope and score performances. Although Fuchs, Fuchs, and Compton ( 2004) found NWF less reliable and less predictive of end of year results than the Word Identification subtest of the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test-Revise d, the Good, Baker, and Peyton (2007) article demonstrated that the data collected from NWF assessments could provide reliable predictive data. Accountability for childrens progress needs to demonstrate how the child is performing against the peer norm group, and also frequent progress monitoring to determine response to intervention. NWF is designed with many alternate form assessm ents and trained staff can collect the


58 data. The Woodcock Reading Mastery subtests are not designed for frequent use, and are not designed to be given by readi ng specialists and teachers frequently. Thus, the efficacy of NWF because of its design, and predictive information with regard to both risk assessment and al so slope of learning are supported by the Good, Baker and Peyton article. Rouse and Fantuzzo (2006) examined th e predictive validity of 3 DIBELS subtests: LNF, PSF, and NWF. In a random selection of 330 kindergarten children from a cohort of 14,803 children, bivari ate correlations and simultaneous regressions found significant overall relationships between DIBELS subtests and first-grade reading. More than half ( 51%) of the variance was explained. Their population did not match the current US census, as the sample included 55% African-American and 17% Caucasian. However, the study did find significant predictive relationships with their population. A limitati on of the study is no other grade levels were researche d. Future research should a ddress these issues at other grade levels. NWF as a curriculum and instruction evaluation tool In the last decade, NWF (as have all the DIBELS measures) has incr easingly been researched as a tool for guiding instruction and eval uating its effectiveness within the Response to Intervention model of e ducational delivery. Children in the special education population are a group that need careful monitoring to demonstrate the extra instruction they are being gi ven is resulting in learning growth. It is critically important that assessment tools are ab le to provide evidence of their achievements, their growth over time, and provide the data to support


59 instructional decisions. Wehby, Bart on-Arwood, Lane and Cooley (2003) assessed a comprehensive reading program on the social and academic behavior of a group of children with emotional and behavioral disorders and measured improvement in all areas with NWF. Howe ver, this improvement did not show on standardized scores. This demonstrat ed the utility of NWF as a progress monitoring tool for exceptional children because NWF is designed to be more sensitive to small changes in perf ormance than norm-referenced global achievement tests. These results supporte d the use of NWF for children in special education that need to be monitored over time. Wehby, Lane and Falk (2005) have also assessed curriculum efficacy with NWF. Curriculum efficacy is important because educators have choices with regard to which curriculum and interv ention they provide to children. Wehby et al. examined the effects of the Sco tt-Foresman Reading Program on four kindergarten special education children w ho were identified with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). After impl ementation of this, university-trained research assistants implemented th e Phonological Awareness Training for Reading Program (PATR). A multiple baseline design was used to evaluate the impact of the programs on the students. Assessment measures used to monitor progress were NWF, ISF and LNF. Modera te and inconsistent improvements in reading skills were found in the childre n, and the implications for classroom use of the programs were discussed. The important aspect of this research study is that not only can NWF monitor chil drens performance, but it can also help provide data to assess efficacy of instru ction, programs, and teaching.


60 Fuchs, Fuchs, and Compton (2004) compared progress monitoring first grade children with either NWF or Word Identification Fluency (WIF). Their sample included 151 at-risk children from eight schools in the Southeast of the USA. Each student was monitored once a week for seven weeks, and twice a week for 13 weeks. Their progress was measured on both the WIF subtest of the Woodcock Reading Mastery test, and also NWF. They found the WIF to have better concurrent and predictive validity for fall to spring status with regard to both achievement and progress monitoring sl opes. They discussed the limitations of NWF being that students with different skills of reading individual sounds, or blending CVC together get equal credit. Secondly, that the CVC nonwords did not include knowledge of double vowel blends, irregular blends, the final e rule which can change the vowel sound within a word, a lack of multi-syllabic words, and other morphologically-based examples or irregular English pronounciations. This study discussed the importance of predictive validity for both criterion and slope for progress monitoring and expressed concerns about the accuracy of NWFs performance. Accurate progress monitoring is important as part of the evaluation of curriculum and efficacy of instruction. Limitations of this study were that it was a small heterogenous sample (all the children were at risk), and it was suggested that results may be diffe rent with a larger population with a wider spread of ability range. Other limitati ons of the study include lack of detail about initial scores, as children with diffe rent beginning scores may have different slopes for learning. Other limitations include the non-comparability between the tests with regard to the content they are assessing. WIF assesses sight vocabulary,


61 which requires a previous knowledge base. NWF is a more pure assessment of the alphabetic principle previous knowledge of alphabetic princi ple is tested, but sight word knowledge does not interfere. Therefore, the predictive validity between the two measures is determined by a different set of skills. For assessments to be equally compared, they should be measuring the same construct. Not only can childrens performance or a curriculum be evaluated, but research has also used NWF to assess the instructional setting. Children identified as at risk are taught both in classr oom settings, and also in small-group instruction. A study conducted by Samanich (2004) examined the efficacy of a direct, small-group instruction for pr e-reading kindergarteners who were identified with poor phonemic awareness. Participants re ceived eight, ten or twelve weeks in total of three half-hour weekly intervention sessions. The effects were monitored across subjects using a multiple-baseline design. DIBELS NWF and PSF, and preand post-test standard scores from the Letter-Word recognition Test of the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery (3rd ed) were also compared. It was determined that students who participated in an intervention for phonemic awareness made significantly more progress in letter and word recognition than those who had not. The e fficacy of small group instruction in explicit phonemic awareness and lette r-sound recognition was supported, as the assessment tools provided data confirming the childrens response to instruction. Another study with older ch ildren by Barton-Arwood (2003) demonstrated the efficacy of a reading intervention in a PALS classroom. Six


62 third grade students in self-contained sp ecial education school identified with reading and behavioral deficits were participants in a reading instruction group intervention. The instruction was given daily using the Horizons Fast Track A-B reading program in conjunction with Peer Assisted Learning Stategies. Reading and behavior were monitored. Outcome results of the study indicated that although changes in total inappropriate beha viors were not directly related to the reading intervention, attending to task behaviors were improved. This study assessed reading improvement performance with changes in NWF and ORF. Finally, Benner (2003) provides further support for the use of NWF as an assessment tool for examining the e ffects of early lit eracy intervention kindergarten children identified as havi ng emotional and behavior disorders (EBD). Thirty-six kindergarten children at risk of EBD participated in this study. Children were randomly assigned to a cont rol or intervention condition, and those in the intervention experime ntal group received 10-15 minutes extra early literacy support daily. The children were evaluate d with the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) and DI BELS measures, including NWF. The mean differences between the children in the control and experimental group were determined significantly significant with both interventions with large effect sizes for the CTOPP (1.35 and 1.10) and the DI BELS Initial Soun d Fluency (1.50), NWF (1.38), and Letter Naming Fluency (0.86). NWF had the highest effect size, which supports its use in the field with children within general education and those with exceptionalities.


63 NWF is therefore demonstrated to be a versatile tool with different populations of children, ranging from genera l education to special education, from kindergarteners through to the third grade st udents in this study. It is useful to have an assessment measure that can monitor performance over time, so that childrens skills can be evaluated with regard to progress towards common educational benchmarks. The Current Study Because of the increasing use of NW F as part of mandatory formative assessment in Florida, and also incr easing use of NWF to progress monitor childrens performance, and evaluate in struction and curric ulum it is very important there is confidence determining th e accuracy of the data it yields. This research will examine the NWF measur e for differential prediction between groups. To date no research on this has been published. Previous studies have examined the predictive validity, but not examined any differentiation for either gender or ethnicity. The rese arch will use gender and SES as variables because there is considerable evidence that these factors may affect achievement. Ethnicity is being examined as a vari able, because although previous research found no ethnic differences in minority gr oups once SES was controlled, (Klein & Jimmerson, 2005), it was suggested the findings may have occurred because ethnicity and home-language were dichotom ized as variables and this procedure masked their significance. This study aims to examine the prediction of Reading Component of the SAT-10 by NWF for both boys and girls from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds so that an accu rate identification of children with


64 reading skill deficits can be identified and targeted for remedial interventions. Such a study is important so that children who need assistance in mastering early literacy skills can be accurately identified and provided with additional instructional support in a proactive manner. Accuracy in identification of children with skill deficits is important as instruction costs both time and money, and accountability is required for using federa l funds to support the focus on literacy. The current study will provide educators, school psychologists, administrators, and policy makers with information that will support accounta bility for tests now mandated in the state of Florida. Research Questions. The current study has three research questions: 4. Do NWF scores in fall of first gr ade predict SAT-10 achievement equally well for boys and girls as a whole samp le, and also within the three risk group categories? 5. Do NWF scores in the fall of firs t grade predict SAT-10 achievement equally well for different ethnic groups as a whole sample, and also within three risk group categories? 6. Is there an interaction between gender and ethnicity in the prediction of SAT-10 achievement scores from NWF scores as a whole sample, and also within three risk group categories?? This study seeks to investigate the is sue of differences in predicting SAT10 Reading Comprehension scores from NW F scores. If slope and/or intercept differences are found, it may suggest th at the benchmarks measured by the


65 DIBELS NWF need to be re-evaluated and adjusted for subgroup differences. Additional research would be necessary before making such a decision.


66 Chapter Three Method This research is an analysis of data collected from the first cohort of all the Reading First schools in Florida in 2003/04. Th e data were reported to, and released by the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) for research purposes. Hierarchical regression was used to determine the accuracy of the fall NWF scores in predicting spring of firs t grade Reading Comprehension portion of the SAT-10 achievement test scores. The research aim was to determine if the Nonsense Word Fluency assessment for predicted the Stanford Achievement Test Edition 10 (SAT-10) similarly for groups defined by different risk level, gender, and ethnicity. Reading First All of the Reading First schools were selected fo r this study because it is mandatory for them to give DIBELS assessments in the fall and the SAT-10 in the spring. Reading First schools have preset requiremen ts with regard to poverty needs, and have a greater number of low socioeconomic status students than other schools. Data on Reading First schools showed that 77% of students in these schools received free or reduced price school lunches (Torgeson, 2006). The data for this study were archival data collected by the FCRR. The federal requirements for eligibility as a Reading First school include specific requirements for instruction, a ssessments, professional development, and


67 leadership. Reading First schools are required to part icipate in specific data collection activities as a condition for receiving funding from this program. In Florida, Reading First schools must submit progress monitoring data to FCRR four times per year and outcome measures once per year. Their participation in state and federal evaluations of Reading First is mandatory. Florida conducts a rigorous evaluation of reading outcomes and instructional programs in schools and districts that receive Reading First support. All districts that receive funds from Reading First are required to participate in this evaluation, which involves the use of common progress monitoring a nd reading outcome measures. It also requires districts to respond to surveys about implementation processes and to participate in site visits. This part of the evaluation is coordinated through FCRR which is housed at Florida State University. A Reading First grant provides money for professional development, curriculum materials, early assessments and classroom and school libraries. Twenty percent (20%) of the funds are used at the state level, with the rest going to the school directly. The funding provi des approximately $300 per student (K3), which is intended to pay for a reading coach in each school. FCRR collects four types of data from Reading First schools in Florida: 1) student performance data, which in cludes scores on screening and progress monitoring measures as well as end of year outcome measures; 2) site visit data from 10% of Reading First schools (a different sample each year), which includes direct classroom observations of the c ontent and quality of instruction and interview data with teachers, coaches, and principals concerning the reading


68 program/instruction in their school, a nd issues they have encountered in implementing Reading First requirements ; 3) coaches log data, which includes quantitative analyses of the time spent on various types of coaching activities as well as comments about the nature of coachi ng activities; and 4) survey data from the school level implementation surve y, which includes information from principals about the activities they ha ve engaged in as a result of their Reading First grants. The student performance data belong to the state of Florida, and it is housed in FCRRs database for the purpose of genera ting reports to the schools, districts, regions, and state level personnel participating in Reading First Participants and Setting The participants in this study were th e cohort of children in first grade in all the Reading First schools in Florida in the school year 2003/04. Table 1 shows some descriptive statistics fo r the population across different ethnic, gender, and free and reduced lunch gr oups. The ethnic groups of AmericanIndian, Asian and Multi were remove d from the data set because their proportional representation was less than 6% of the total samp le; this decision allowed the research to focus on the three dominant groups living in the United States currently (Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic). Table 2 shows how the ethnicity of the sample in this research compares to the US census from 2002. The data included in this set used the NWF at time 1 in the fall of first grade, the SAT-10 results in Spring, gender, ethnicity, and free and reduced lunch information to determine prediction accuracy.


Table 1 Descriptive Statistics for Population Category Number of participants in this current study Original FCRR data set of participants from Reading First Schools sample Percentage of current sample Percentage of complete Reading First data set Participants Schools 323 323 100 100 Students 27405 29042 100 100 Ethnicity: Caucasian 11876 11876 43.3 40.9 AfricanAmerica 9477 9477 34.6 32.6 Hispanic 6052 6052 22.1 20.8 Asian 369 1.3 AmericanIndian 88 0.3 Multi 1174 4 Gender groups Male 14167 14984 51.7 51.6 Female 13238 14057 48.3 48.4 Lunch: Free and reduced Total group No 7192 7730 26.2 26.6 Yes 19945 21026 72.8 72.4 69


70 Table 2 Comparison of Sample to US Census 2000 Caucasian African-American Hispanic This sample 43.3% 34.6% 22.1% US Census 2002 75.1% 12.3% 12.5% Instrumentation The Dynamic Indicators of Basi c Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) and Sa nford Achievement Tests Edition 10 (SAT-10) measures are mandatory for all Reading First schools. NWF is used as a benchmark assessment, and the SAT-10 is a nationally-normed standardized reading achievement measure. NWF: All of the DIBELS measures asse ss fluency (i.e., accuracy and rate) with critical early literacy skills. DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF) is a fluency-based measure of the alphabetic principle. Administration of NWF is standardized and involves a one-minute time d probe where a child is asked to read as many nonsense words or letter-sound corresp ondences as he or she is able. The probe is fluency based and enables a child to either blend the sounds together or articulate them individually. The total num ber of correct letter-sounds identified is recorded as the NWF score. There are be nchmarks for performance throughout the year. Research has demonstrated the predictive validity of NWF for performance on certain outcome measures later in the year. The NWF assessments use a risk category to define achievement and risk of failure to achieve subsequent literacy goals (Good, Baker, & Peyton, in press). In this study, students scores of 0-12 at


71 the beginning of first grade are in the high-risk category. Students who achieved scores of 13-24 are in the moderate ri sk category. Students who achieved scores above 25 were grouped into a joint low -risk and above-average category. The reason to join the low-risk and above-average risk groups together for the regression analysis was because these children would not be identified for differentiated curriculum or intervention. The NWF measures have a test-retest reliability of .90 in kindergarten, and .87 in first grade (Good III, Baker, & Peyton, in press). Good et al. (2001) report the concurrent criterionvalidity of DIBELS NWF with the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised readiness cluster as .36 in January and .59 in February of first grade. G ood et al. (2001) also reported the predictive validity of DIBELS NWF in January of fi rst grade with (a) CBM ORF in May of first grade as be ing .82, (b) CBM ORF in May of second grade is .60, and the (c) Woodcock-J ohnson Psycho-Educational Battery total reading cluster score as .66. Cultural sensitivity is addressed in the administration of the DIBELS NWF. The instructions mention that differe nt dialects of American-English are in use across the country, and fo r this reason some letter s like X and Q are not used, and some other letters are used onl y in initial sound position. An example is given of vowels and the sound that is exp ected for a correct score. Examiners who assess the children will have been trained to be sensitive to cultural and regional variations of letter-sound dialects. Stanford-10 (SAT-10) Stanford-10 (SAT-10) was designed by Harcourt Brace and is used as an outcome reading achievement assessment. This reading


72 test is administered at the end of fi rst grade and is a standardized reading comprehension portion of the outcome asse ssment measure. In this study, only the results from the reading comprehension portion of the exam were used. The SAT10 provides a lexical and percentile score of a childs individual performance to determine reading level, and has a methodol ogical reliability of .93-.97 (Harcourt, 2006). The reading comprehension portion of the SAT-10 is a published normreferenced test that asks students to read text passages and then answer literal and inferential questions. Only reading comprehe nsion was used in this study. Scores were reported as scale scores and percentiles. According to Carney (2004) internal consistency estimates for the subtests of the SAT-10 as a whole ranged from the mid .80s to .90s. Alternate forms reliability estimates ranged from .53 to .93 with most in the .80s. No data on test-retest reliability are reported in the technical manual. Evidence of concurrent validity includes correlations ranging from .70s to .80s between the SAT-10 and SAT-9 (Carney, 2004). Correlations with the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, Version 8 ranged between .40s to .60s (Morse, 2004). Procedure Training of data collectors The data were collected by persons trained in the administration of NWF and SAT-10 test s. All DIBELS examiners were trained by personnel from FCRR or those district level personnel who had been trained by FCRR to train others in administ ration and scoring of DIBELS.


73 Administration, scoring, and in terpretation of measures The DIBELS NWF was individually administered to students by assessment team members. The SAT-10 was administered by class teacher s who were previo usly trained and certified on standardized ad ministration procedures. The results for DIBELS were collected and sent to the Progress Mon itoring and Reporting Network (PMRN) at FCRR for analysis. The PMRN is Floridas web-based data-management system for the recording, storing, and reporting of student gains in reading. Assessment data are entered three times a year, and only teachers and administrators with authorization passcodes can enter the system to view scores. The assessment frames provide intervals for growth in skill, and are designed to help guide instruction by identifying children at risk who need intervention. FCRR report back to the school with score summaries. The SAT-10 was mailed in a secure inter district mail bag and was scored by Harcourt personnel so there is no opportunity for bias by teachers at the school. Confidentiality. The data in this study were obtained from FCRR in compliance with their policy for accessing data from the PMRN for research. To obtain approval for access to these data, investigators must subm it a written request that describes: 1) the overall purpose of the research proj ect; 2) the specific questions to be addressed; 3) the type of data that ne eds to be accessed; and 4) the potential publication outlet or audience for the resear ch report. For data access requests that are approved, the director designates a st aff member within FCRR to generate a specific query against the da ta base or provide the da ta analysis required to


74 address the questions in the research proposal. Designated staff at FCRR will work with investigators to insure that que ries are phrased properly to insure only the data needed to answer specific qu estions are identifie d. In addition, all identifying numbers of the individual children were removed from the data by the researcher prior to conducting analyses. Data Analysis The analysis of data in this res earch study involves the use of various descriptive statistics to examine and descri be the dependent variables, such as the mean score for the boys and girls for each of (a) DIBELS NWF and (b) SAT-10 Reading Comprehension portion. In additi on, correlations between the scores of NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension portion were examined to determine if a significant relationship exists. Analyses were used to compare the predictive validity of NWF for determining future SAT-10 scores by gender, ethnicity, and risk-level. In all analyses, free and reduced lunch status was controlled. The analysis was designed to addres s the following research questions: 1. Do NWF scores in the fall of first grade predict SAT-10 Reading Comprehension achievement equally well for boys and girls as a whole sample, and also within three risk group categories? Analysis: A hierarchical linear regressi on was conducted with NWF and SAT-10 results being analyzed using SPSS. The alpha level for this analysis was p <.05. The dependent variable in this regr ession was SAT-10 Reading Comprehension score. The variables that were added at each step of the hierarchical regression were:


Step 1: NWF Score and Free and Reduced Lunch status. Step 2: Gender Step 3: Interaction term (Gender X NWF Score) Variable Free and Reduced Lunch stat us was included to control for the impact of socioeconomic factors on the SAT-10 Reading Comprehension score. To assess whether the relationshi p between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores varied by gender, the p value associated with the coefficient of the interaction term (Ge nder X NWF Score) was examined. If the coefficient was significantly different from zero, this would imply that the relationship between NWF and SAT-10 was significantly different for males and females. The additional variance explained by th e inclusion of the interaction term (Gender X NWF Score) was asse ssed through the change in R2 statistic and the associated effect size, as measured by Cohens 2 f This analysis was carried out to assess the practical significance of th e results, as the large sample size could cause small or trivial effects to be significant. This procedure was carried out for the sample as a whole and then separately for each NWF-based risk group. Risk groups were defined as follows: high risk (NWF scores 0-12), moderate risk (NWF scores 13-24) and low risk (NWF scores 25 +). 75


2. Do NWF scores in the fall of first grade predict SAT-10 Reading Comprehension achievement equally well for different ethnic groups as a whole sample, and also within three risk group categories? Analysis: A hierarchical linear regressi on was conducted with NWF and SAT-10 results being analyzed using SPSS. The al pha level for this analysis was set at p<.05. The dependent variable in this re gression was SAT-10 score. The variables that were added at each step of the hierarchical regression were: Step 1: NWF Score and Free and Reduced Lunch status. Step 2: Ethnic Groups: 2 dichotomous variables (African American and Hispanic). Ethnic group Caucasian wa s used as the reference category. Step 3: Interaction terms (African American X NWF Score) and (Hispanic X NWF Score) To determine whether the relatio nship between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores vary by ethnicity, the p values associated with the coefficients of the interaction terms (African American X NWF Score) and (Hispanic X NWF Score) were examined. If these coefficients were significantly different from zero, this would imply that the relationship between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores were significantly differe nt for different ethnic groups. The additional variance expl ained by the inclusion of the interaction terms (African American X NWF Scor e) and (Hispanic X NWF Score) was assessed through the change in R2 statistic and the associated effect size, as measured by Cohens 2 f This procedure was carried out for the sample as a whole and then separately for each NWF-based risk group. 76


77 3. Is there an interaction between gender and ethnicity in the prediction of SAT-10 Reading Comprehension achievement scores from NWF scores as a whole sample, and also within the risk groups? Analysis: A hierarchical linear regressi on was conducted with NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension results being an alyzed using SPSS. The alpha level for this analysis was set at p<.05. The depende nt variable in this regression was SAT10 score. The variables that were added at each step of the hierarchical regression were: Step 1: NWF Score and Free and Reduced Lunch status. Step 2: Gender Step 3: Ethnic Groups Step 4: : Interaction term (Gender X NWF Score) Step 5: Interaction terms (African American X NWF Score) and (Hispanic X NWF Score) Step 6: Interaction terms (African American X Gender) and (Hispanic X Gender) Step 7: Interaction terms (African American X Gender X NWF Score) and (Hispanic X Gender X NWF Score) To assess whether there was a signi ficant interaction of gender and ethnicity in the relationshi p between NWF and SAT-10, the p values associated with the coefficient of the interaction terms (African American X Gender X NWF Score) and (Hispanic X Gender X NWF Score) were examined. If these


coefficients were significantly different from zero, this would imply that the relationship between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores was significantly different for different gender-ethnicity groups. The additional variance explained by the inclusion of the interaction terms (African American X Gender X NWF Score) and (Hispanic X Gender X NWF Score) was assessed through the change in R2 statistic and the associated effect size, as measured by Cohens 2 f This procedure was carried out for the sample as a whole and then separately for each NWF-based risk group. 78


79 Chapter Four Results In this chapter, the findings for th e research questions are presented. The objective of the present study was to dete rmine whether the relationship between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores was significantly different across different subgroups, which were de fined by gender, ethni city, and risk (in terms of NWF scores). Multiple linear regression analysis, which included interaction terms, was used to estimat e the relationship between NWF and SAT for each group, and R2 change estimates were calculated to determine the magnitude of the difference of the slope s among subgroups. Descriptive statistics for the sample are presented first, foll owed by results of the regression models. Descriptive statistics Table 3 shows descriptive statistics for the first NWF fall benchmark scores and Table 4 shows descriptive statistics for SAT-10 scores, across subgroups defined by gender, ethnic composition, and participation in free lunch programs.


80 Table 3 Descriptive statistics of NWF fall assessment by group Group N (%) M SD sk ks Min Max Overall 27386 (100%) 27.76 20.25 1.32 3.61 0 168 Ethnicity Caucasian 11869 (43.33%) 31.19 21.13 1.32 3.38 0 158 AfricanAmerican 9471 (34.58%) 25.76 19.20 1.28 3.53 0 168 Hispanic 6046 (22.09%) 24.17 19.00 1.35 4.33 0 165 Gender Male 14157 (51.69%) 26.19 20.21 0.02 3.64 0 158 Female 13229 (48.31%) 29.45 20.16 1.31 3.70 0 168 Lunch: Free and reduced No 7188 (26.24%) 34.34 22.49 0.03 3.35 0 158 Yes 19930 (73.76%) 25.45 18.84 0.02 3.37 0 168 Risk Group High Risk 6407 (23.39%) 5.12 4.30 0.15 -1.44 0 12 Moderate Risk 6799 (24.82%) 18.59 3.39 -0.03 -1.18 13 24 Low Risk & Above Average 14180 (51.77%) 42.40 17.10 2.32 7.54 25 168 Notes: NWF = Nonsense Word Flue ncy indicator from the DIBELS High Risk corresponds to NWF score within 0-12; Moderate Risk corresponds to NWF scores within 13-24 and Low Risk and Above Average corresponds to NWF scores of 25 or higher. sk = skewness; ks = kurtosis


81 Table 4 Descriptive statistics of SAT10 reading comprehension by group Group N M SD sk ks Min Max Overall 26378 (100%) 550.18 49.58 0.22 -0.45 351 667 Ethnicity Caucasian 11535 (43.72%) 560.16 51.7 0.08 -0.61 415 667 AfricanAmerican 9022 (34.20%) 542.19 46.37 0.26 -0.28 351 667 Hispanic 5821 (22.08%) 542.79 46.45 0.30 -0.29 415 667 Gender Male 13586 (51.50%) 543.94 49.24 0.02 -0.39 351 667 Female 12729 (48.50%) 556.81 49.07 0.17 -0.48 415 667 Lunch: Free and reduced No 7046 (26.71%) 569.09 50.45 0.03 -0.58 415 667 Yes 19263 (73.29%) 543.33 47.42 0.28 -0.31 351 667 Risk Group High Risk 5987 (22.69%) 508.51 37.65 0.71 0.58 351 667 Moderate Risk 6571 (24.91%) 537.04 39.62 0.40 0.12 423 667 Low Risk & Above Average 13802 (52.4%) 574.55 43.61 0.11 -0.37 405 667 As can be gleaned from Tables 3 and 4, Caucasians tend to score higher on both the NWF (Caucasian M = 31.19) and SAT (Caucasian M = 560.16) than both African-Americans (with mean scor es of 542.19 and 25.76, respectively) and


82 Hispanics (with mean score of 542.79 and 24.17, respectively). Similarly, females tend to earn higher scores on both tests (NWF M = 29.45, SAT M = 556.81) than males (NWF M = 26.19, SAT M = 543.94). Students on free or reduced lunch programs tend to obtain lower scores (with NWF M = 25.45, SAT M = 543.33) than students who do not partic ipate in these programs (NWF M = 34.34, SAT M = 569.09). Finally, 52.35% of students were in the Low Risk & Above Average group, 24.92% were in the Moderate Risk group and 22.71% of students were in the High Risk group. Table 5 reports the percentage of students within each demographic group that belong to each risk group. Within the High Risk group, 61.18% of students were male. Moreover, the most common ethnicity among High Risk students was African American (39.78%), followed by Caucasians (33.49%) and Hispanics (26.73%). Table 5 Distribution of risk groups for each demographic group Risk Group based on NWF Males Caucasians African Americans Hispanics High Risk 61.18% 33.49% 39.78% 26.73% Moderate Risk 51.54% 42.22% 35.33% 22.45% Low Risk & Above Average 47.36% 48.95% 31.29% 19.76% Finally, the correlation coefficien ts between NWF-1 and SAT-10 are reported for each demographic and risk group in Table 6. These values are partial correlation coefficients, using eligibility for Free/Reduced lunch programs as a


83 control variable. As can be gleaned from this table, the correlations were positive and significantly different from zero in all cases. Table 6 Partial correlation coeffi cients between NWF fall assessment and SAT-10, after controlling for eligibility of reduced/free lunch programs Gender Partial r Males .60 Females .57 Ethnicity Caucasians .59 African Americans .57 Hispanics .58 Risk Group High Risk .28 Moderate Risk .16 Low Risk & Above Average .39 All correlations were significant at the .01 level Multiple regression analysis Multiple regression analysis examining gender. The first regression model involved conducting a 3-step hi erarchical regression, using SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores as the de pendent variable and participation in reduced lunch programs, NWF scores, ge nder and the interac tion between gender and NWF scores as independent variables. The whole sample was used in this regression model. The objectives of th is regression were to determine:


84 1) What is the relation between NWF scores and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores after contro lling for student participation in reduced/free lunch? 2) Does the relationship between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores differ fo r male and female students? Results of this regression are pr esented in Table 7. Estimated R2 changes are reported in Table 8. Table 7 Estimated coefficients for regression on SAT-10, including gender interaction terms (n = 26290) b Std. Error Beta t Sig. Step 1 (Constant) 519.92 0.63 829.24 <.01 NWF 1.42 0.01 0.12 117.25 <.01 Reduced Lunch -13.14 0.55 -0.58 -23.67 <.01 Step 2 (Constant) 516.41 0.65 790.03 <.01 NWF 1.41 0.01 0.12 116.15 <.01 Reduced Lunch -13.36 0.55 -0.57 -24.22 <.01 Female 8.56 0.48 0.09 17.80 <.01 Step 3 (Constant) 515.60 0.72 715.68 <.01 NWF 1.44 0.02 0.12 86.14 <.01 Reduced Lunch -13.37 0.55 -0.59 -24.23 <.01 Female 10.35 0.82 0.10 12.56 <.01 Female X NWF -0.06 0.02 -0.03 -2.67 .01


85 Table 8 R2 change for regression on SAT-10, incl uding gender interaction terms (n = 26300) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .38 .38 7993.84 2 26288 <.01 2 .39 .01 316.91 1 26287 <.01 3 .39 .00 7.14 1 26286 .01 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch and Female as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, Female and Female X NWF as independent variables. Results from Step 1 of the model show two expected relationships: there is a negative relationship between participati on in reduced or free lunch programs (b = -13.14, p < .01) and SAT-10 Reading Compre hension scores; and theres a positive correlation between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores (b = 1.42, p < .01). This result implies that, for the sample as a whole (i.e., without segmenting it into subpopulations), an extr a point in the NWF is related to an average 1.42-point increase in the SAT-10 Reading Comp rehension score. As can be gleaned from Table 8, the model in Step 1 has an R2 of .38, suggesting that 38% of the variance in the SAT-10 Readi ng Comprehension is explained by that model. Results from Step 3 show that the slope of the relationship between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores is statistically different for males and


females. The coefficient for the Fema le x NWF Score inte raction (b = -0.06, p = .01) suggests that the relationshi p between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores is significantly different for males and for females. However, because the sample size was so large, the practical significance of the interaction also was examined by determining the change in R2 when the (Female x NWF Score) interaction was added to the model. The R2 from the model in Step 3 was .39. The change in R2 at Step 3 was lower than .01, which implies an Effect Size Therefore, although the slopes fo r males and females appear to be significantly different, the interaction te rm (Female x NWF Score) added almost no explanatory power to the model, sugge sting that the difference between males and females in terms of the relatio nship between NWF and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension is not very important. 2.01 f This model was also estimated for each risk subgroup. Tables 9, 10 and 11 report the R2 change statistics from the regression model including gender interaction terms, for each of these subgroups. 86


87 Table 9 R2 change for regression on SAT-10 for Hi gh Risk students, including gender interaction terms (n = 5966) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .09 .09 284.47 2 5964 <.01 2 .10 .01 59.84 1 5963 <.01 3 .10 .00 0.05 1 5962 .81 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch and Female as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, Female and Female X NWF as independent variables. Table 10 R2 change for regression on SAT-10 for Mode rate Risk students, including gender interaction terms (n = 6552) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .04 .04 128.58 2 6550 <.01 2 .05 .01 72.24 1 6549 <.01 3 .05 .00 0.03 1 6548 .87 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch and Female as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, Female and Female X NWF as independent variables.


88 Table 11 R2 Change for Regression on SAT-10 for Low Risk and Above Average students, including gender interaction terms (n = 13770) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .19 .19 1641.56 2 13768 <.01 2 .20 .01 135.25 1 13767 <.01 3 .20 .00 0.19 1 13766 .66 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch and Female as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, Female and Female X NWF as independent variables. As can be gleaned from Tables 9, 10 and 11, when analyzing each risk subgroup separately, the explanatory pow er added by the inclusion of the interaction term between gender and NWF-1 was not significantly different from zero at the .05 level. Therefore, we di d not find support for the hypothesis that the relationship between NWF-1 and SAT10 Reading Comprehension varies by gender when considering each risk group separately. Multiple regression analysis examining ethnicity The second analysis involved conducting a 3-step hierarchical linear regression model, using SAT scores as the dependent variable and pa rticipation in reduced lunch programs, NWF scores, ethnicity and the interacti on between ethnicity and NWF scores as independent variables. In this case, th e objective was to determine whether there were any differences in the relationship between NWF and SAT for the three


89 ethnic groups considered in this study. We started by estimating the regression coefficients for the whole sample. Results of this estimation are presented in Table 12, and R2 change statistics ar e presented in Table 13. Table 12 Estimated Coefficients for Regression on SAT-10, Including Et hnicity Interaction Terms (n = 26290) b Std. Error Beta t Sig. 1 (Constant) 519.92 0.63 829.24 <.01 NWF 1.42 0.01 0.58 117.25 <.01 Reduced Lunch -13.14 0.55 -0.12 -23.67 <.01 2 (Constant) 521.36 0.64 809.56 <.01 NWF 1.42 0.01 0.58 116.50 <.01 Reduced Lunch -10.75 0.60 -0.10 -17.85 <.01 African Amer. -6.40 0.59 -0.06 -10.80 <.01 Hispanic -3.59 0.67 -0.03 -5.39 <.01 3 (Constant) 520.56 0.76 681.97 <.01 NWF 1.44 0.02 0.59 82.69 <.01 Reduced Lunch -10.69 0.60 -0.10 -17.72 <.01 African Amer. -4.54 0.97 -0.04 -4.69 <.01 Hispanic -3.04 1.07 -0.02 -2.83 .01 Afr. Am. X NWF -0.07 0.03 -0.02 -2.43 .01 Hispanic X NWF -0.02 0.03 -0.01 -0.50 .61


90 Table 13 R2 change statistics for regression on SAT-10, including ethnicity interaction terms (n = 26320) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .38 .38 7993.84 2 26288 <.01 2 .38 .00 58.39 2 26286 <.01 3 .38 .00 3.02 2 26284 .05 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American and Hispanic as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American, Hispanic, African American X NWF a nd Hispanic X NWF as independent variables. Clearly, results from the model at Step 1 are equivalent to those at Step 1 from the previous model (the one for Gender), since they also show the relationship between SAT-10 Reading Co mprehension, NWF-1 and participation in lunch programs for the whole sample. Re sults of Step 3 from this model show how the slopes for the relationship between NWF-1 and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension vary across different ethnic groups. In this case, Caucasian was used as the reference category. The inte raction between African American and NWF Scores (b = -0.07, p = .01) was significant, sugges ting that the relationship between NWF and SAT scores is signifi cantly different for African Americans and Caucasians. On the other hand, the (His panics x NWF Score) interaction term was not significant at the .05 level ( p = .61), which suggests th at the slope of the


relationship between NWF and SAT scores are not significantly different for Hispanics and Caucasians. As described in the previous section, due to the large sample size, the practical significance of th e interactions was examined by determining the change in R2 when the (African American x NWF Score) and (Hispanic x NWF Score) interactions were added to the model. The R2 from the model in Step 3 was .38. The change in R2 at Step 3 was lower than .01, which implies an Effect Size Therefore, although the slopes for African Americans and Caucasians appear to be significantly different, the interaction term (African Americans x NWF Score) added virtually no explanatory power to the model, suggesting that the difference between African American s and Caucasians in terms of the relationship between NWF and SAT is not very important. 2.01 f This model was also estimated for each risk subgroup. Tables 14, 15 and 16 report the R2 change statistics from the regression model including gender interaction terms, for each of these subgroups. 91


92 Table 14 R2 change for regression on SAT-10 for Hi gh Risk students, including ethnicity interaction terms (n = 5966) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .09 .09 284.47 2 5964 <.01 2 .09 .00 6.72 2 5962 <.01 3 .09 .00 3.88 2 5960 .02 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American and Hispanic as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American, Hispanic, African American X NWF a nd Hispanic X NWF as independent variables. Table 15 R2 change for regression on SAT-10 for M oderate Risk students, including ethnicity interaction terms (n = 6552) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .04 .04 128.58 2 6550 <.01 2 .04 .00 7.39 2 6548 <.01 3 .04 .00 7.27 2 6546 <.01 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American and Hispanic as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American, Hispanic, African American X NWF a nd Hispanic X NWF as independent variables.

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Table 16 R2 change for regression on SAT-10 for Lo w Risk and Above Average students, including ethnicity inte raction terms (n = 13770) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .19 .19 1641.56 2 13768 <.01 2 .20 .01 72.80 2 13766 <.01 3 .20 .00 0.07 2 13764 .93 Note: Step 1 includes NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American and Hispanic as independent variables. Step 3 includes NWF, Reduced Lunch, African American, Hispanic, African American X NWF a nd Hispanic X NWF as independent variables. As can be gleaned from Table 16, the explanatory variables added at Step 3 (interaction between ethnic groups and NWF-1) did not add any significant explanatory power. This implies that the slope of the relati onship between NWF-1 and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension was not significantly different for the three ethnic groups for Low Risk and Above Average students. On the other hand, this relationship was significantly differe nt among ethnic groups for High Risk students (F Change = 3.88, p = .02) and Moderate Risk students (F Change = 7.27, p < .01). However, the R2 change was very small in these two cases. For High Risk and Moderate Risk students, the R2 change from Step 2 to Step 3 was lower than 0.01 (with an Effect Size ). Therefore, although the 2.01 f 93

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94 relationship between NWF-1 and SAT10 Reading Comprehension varied significantly by ethnicity for Moderate a nd High Risk students, this variation appears to be of little practical significance based on effect size, Multiple regression analysis examini ng the interacti on between gender and ethnicity The third analysis involved estimation a 7-step hierarchical regression model using SAT-10 Reading Co mprehension scores as the dependent variable and participatio n in reduced lunch program s, NWF-1 scores, gender, ethnicity, and all in teractions among NWF-1 scores, gender and ethnicity. In this case, the objective was to determine if there was any interaction between gender and ethnicity in terms of the relationship between NWF-1 and SAT-10 scores. As in the previous models, the interactio ns between gender, ethnicity and NWF-1 scores were included in the la st step of the model, and R2 change statistics were used to determine whether these terms added any explanatory power to the model. Results of the regression fo r the whole sample are presented in Table 17, and R2 change statistics are presented in Table 18.

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95 Table 17 Estimated Regression Coefficients for Model Including Gender and Ethnicity, Using the Whole Sample (n = 26290) B Std. Error Beta t Sig. Step 1 (Constant) 519.92 0.63 829.24 <.01 NWF 1.42 0.01 0.58 117.25 <.01 Reduced Lunch -13.14 0.55 -0.12 -23.67 <.01 Step 2 (Constant) 516.41 0.65 79.03 <.01 NWF 1.41 0.01 0.57 116.15 <.01 Reduced Lunch -13.36 0.55 -0.12 -24.22 <.01 female 8.56 0.48 0.09 17.80 <.01 Step 3 (Constant) 517.86 0.67 773.82 <.01 NWF 1.40 0.01 0.57 115.39 <.01 Reduced Lunch -1.94 0.60 -0.01 -18.27 <.01 female 8.60 0.48 0.09 17.91 <.01 African Amer. -6.46 0.59 -0.06 -1.97 <.01 Hispanic -3.71 0.66 -0.03 -5.60 <.01 Step 4 (Constant) 517.09 0.73 703.94 <.01 NWF 1.43 0.02 0.58 85.64 <.01 Reduced Lunch -1.95 0.60 -0.01 -18.28 <.01 female 1.31 0.82 0.10 12.53 <.01 African Amer. -6.44 0.59 -0.06 -1.94 <.01 Hispanic -3.72 0.66 -0.03 -5.61 <.01 Female X NWF -.06 0.02 -0.02 -2.56 .011 Step 5 (Constant) 516.24 0.84 616.55 <.01 NWF 1.45 0.02 0.59 7.52 <.01 Reduced Lunch -1.88 0.60 -0.10 -18.15 <.01 female 1.30 0.82 0.10 12.52 <.01 African Amer. -4.41 0.96 -0.04 -4.58 <.01 Hispanic -3.23 1.07 -0.03 -3.03 <.01 Female X NWF -0.06 0.02 -0.02 -2.51 .01 Afr. Am. X NWF -0.07 0.03 -0.02 -2.69 .01 Hispanic X NWF -0.01 0.03 0.00 -0.42 .67 Step 6 (Constant) 516.13 0.88 583.67 <.01 NWF 1.45 0.02 0.59 7.53 <.01

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96 Reduced Lunch -1.89 0.60 -0.10 -18.16 <.01 African Amer. 1.55 1.05 0.10 1.06 <.01 Hispanic -4.97 1.07 -0.05 -4.65 <.01 Female X NWF -1.97 1.20 -0.02 -1.64 .10 Afr. Am. X NWF -0.06 0.02 -0.03 -2.62 .01 Hispanic X NWF -0.08 0.03 -0.03 -2.81 .01 African Amer. -0.01 0.03 0.00 -0.28 .78 Afr. Am. X Female 1.34 1.10 0.01 1.22 .22 Hispanic X Female -2.80 1.26 -0.02 -2.22 .03 Step 7 (Constant) 516.08 0.95 544.48 <.01 NWF 1.46 0.02 0.59 61.71 <.01 Reduced Lunch -1.90 0.60 -0.10 -18.17 <.01 African Amer. 1.68 1.31 0.11 8.17 <.01 Hispanic -4.63 1.28 -0.04 -3.62 <.01 Female X NWF -2.22 1.44 -0.02 -1.54 .12 Afr. Am. X NWF -0.07 0.03 -0.03 -1.94 .05 Hispanic X NWF -0.09 0.04 -0.03 -2.36 .02 African Amer. 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.05 .96 Afr. Am. X Female 0.62 1.91 0.00 0.32 .75 Hispanic X Female -2.28 2.12 -0.01 -1.08 .28 Hisp. X Fem. X NWF -0.02 0.06 -0.01 -0.35 .72 Afr. X Fem. X NWF 0.03 0.05 0.01 0.49 .62

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97 Table 18 R2 change statistics Regression Model on SAT-10 Including Gender and Ethnicity Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 .38 .38 7993.84 2 26288 <.01 2 .39 .01 316.92 1 26287 <.01 3 .39 .00 6.33 2 26285 <.01 4 .39 .00 6.55 1 26284 .01 5 .39 .00 3.74 2 26282 .02 6 .39 .00 5.04 2 26280 .01 7 .39 .00 0.27 2 26278 .76 Note: Step 1 included NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 included Female in addition to the independent variables as Step 1. Step 3 included African American and Hispanic in addition to the independent variables as Step 2. Step 4 included Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 3. Step 5 included African Americ an X NWF and Hispanic X NWF in addition to the independent variab les as Step 4. Step 6 included African American X Female and Hispanic X Fe male in addition to the independent variables as Step 5. Step 7 included Hispanic X Female X NWF and African American X Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 6. As can be gleaned from Table 17, the interaction terms for gender, ethnicity and NWF were not significantly different from zero at the .05 level, suggesting that there were no signifi cant interactions between gender and ethnicity in terms of the relationshi p between SAT-10 Reading Comprehension and NWF-1.

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98 R2 Change Statistics These results were confirmed by the R2 change statistics shown in Table 18. At Step 7, when the analyzed interaction terms were included, the R2 change was lower than .01. Moreover, these va riables did not add any significant explanatory power, as evidenced by the p value = .76 for the F Change statistic. Therefore, for the sample as a whole, there was no evidence of interactions between gender and ethnicity in th e relationship between SAT-10 Reading Comprehension and NWF-1. This analysis was repeated for each of the risk groups. R2 change statistics for these analyses are presented in Tables 19, 20 and 21.

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99 Table 19 R2 change statistics regression model on SAT-10 including gender and ethnicity, for High Risk students (n = 5966) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 0.09 0.09 284.47 2 5964 <0.01 2 0.10 0.01 59.84 1 5963 <0.01 3 0.10 0.00 5.68 2 5961 <0.01 4 0.10 0.00 0.11 1 5960 0.74 5 0.10 0.00 3.67 2 5958 0.02 6 0.10 0.00 2.03 2 5956 0.13 7 0.10 0.00 1.95 2 5954 0.14 Note: Step 1 included NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 included Female in addition to the independent variables as Step 1. Step 3 included African American and Hispanic in addition to the independent variables as Step 2. Step 4 included Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 3. Step 5 included African Americ an X NWF and Hispanic X NWF in addition to the independent variab les as Step 4. Step 6 included African American X Female and Hispanic X Fe male in addition to the independent variables as Step 5. Step 7 included Hispanic X Female X NWF and African American X Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 6.

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100 Table 20 R2 change statistics regression model on SAT-10 including gender and ethnicity, for Moderate Risk students (n = 6552) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 0.04 0.04 128.58 2 6550 <0.01 2 0.05 0.01 72.25 1 6549 <0.01 3 0.05 0.00 7.73 2 6547 <0.01 4 0.05 0.00 0.02 1 6546 0.90 5 0.05 0.00 7.21 2 6544 <0.01 6 0.05 0.00 1.07 2 6542 0.34 7 0.05 0.00 0.62 2 6540 0.54 Note: Step 1 included NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 included Female in addition to the independent variables as Step 1. Step 3 included African American and Hispanic in addition to the independent variables as Step 2. Step 4 included Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 3. Step 5 included African Americ an X NWF and Hispanic X NWF in addition to the independent variab les as Step 4. Step 6 included African American X Female and Hispanic X Fe male in addition to the independent variables as Step 5. Step 7 included Hispanic X Female X NWF and African American X Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 6.

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101 Table 21 R2 change statistics regression model on SAT-10 including gender and ethnicity, for Low Risk and Above Average students (n = 13770) Change Statistics Step R Square R2 Change F Change df1 df2 p value 1 0.19 0.19 1641.56 2 13768 <0.01 2 0.20 0.01 135.25 1 13767 <0.01 3 0.21 0.01 74.29 2 13765 <0.01 4 0.21 0.00 0.03 1 13764 0.85 5 0.21 0.00 0.19 2 13762 0.82 6 0.21 0.00 2.70 2 13760 0.07 7 0.21 0.00 0.71 2 13758 0.49 Note: Step 1 included NWF and Reduced Lunch as independent variables. Step 2 included Female in addition to the independent variables as Step 1. Step 3 included African American and Hispanic in addition to the independent variables as Step 2. Step 4 included Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 3. Step 5 included African Americ an X NWF and Hispanic X NWF in addition to the independent variab les as Step 4. Step 6 included African American X Female and Hispanic X Fe male in addition to the independent variables as Step 5. Step 7 included Hispanic X Female X NWF and African American X Female X NWF in addition to the independent variables as Step 6. As can be gleaned from Tables 19, 20 and 21, when analyzing each risk subgroup separately, the expl anatory power added from the variables included in Step 7 (the interaction terms between gender, ethnicity and NWF-1) was not significantly different from zero at the 0.05 level. Therefore, we did not find

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102 support of the hypothesis that there are si gnificant interactions between gender and ethnicity in the relationship between NWF-1 and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension when considering each risk group separately.

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103 Chapter Five Discussion The purpose of this study was to examine the validity of the NWF scores in the fall of first grade as a predictor of SAT-10 reading outcom es in the spring of first grade in Reading First schools. In particular, differential prediction by gender, ethnicity, and risk level was exam ined. In this chapter the findings are compared to previously reported rese arch, and discussed with regard to implications for practice and future res earch. Limitations of this study are also addressed. Summary of Findings Analysis of the data revealed seve ral facts. Firstly, when the overall slope for the relationship between NW F-1 and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores was calculated, a regression co efficient of 1.41 was found. Secondly, a significant difference in achieveme nt of NWF-1 and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores was noted between socioeconomic groups ( p < .001). Students participating in th e federal free or reduced lunch program were found to perform more poorly on both tests than those not participating in those programs. This finding supports a growing body of re search citing socio-economic status as an important variable in educational research (Evans, 2004; Klein & Jimerson, 2005). Specifically, Evans (2004) cited many reasons to explain the poorer

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104 performance of economically disadvanta ged children including: lowincome children are read to less frequently, watc h more TV, have less access to books and computers, live in noisier homes due to reduced living space, and are exposed to more environmental pathogens. Klei n and Jimmerson (2005) found that significant differences in reading fluenc y levels varied widely between free, reduced and regular lunch groups and studies that dichotomize the lunch variables are common in educational research. B ecause these studies demonstrated the importance of socio-economic status as a variable, in this study all the analyses between groups were controlled for part icipation in the free and reduced lunch program so that differences found were at tributable to the primary independent variables of gender, ethn icity and risk levels. Gender With regard to group trends, females tended to score sign ificantly higher on both tests than males ( p<.001). This finding is cons istent with previous research (Klein & Jimerson, 2005; Prochnow, Tunmer, Chapman, & Greaney, 2001; Raffaele-Mendez, Mihalas, & Hardes ty, 2006; Tyre, 2006) that found girls tend to outperform boys in reading, and that this effect is a world-wide phenomenon (Chu & McBride, 2006). However, very little explanatory power was added to the model by adding gender into the regression. This finding is consistent with previous research by Klein and Jimmerson, (2005) in which the oral reading differences we re not biased for gender. In this study, although the NWF X Gender interaction was statistically significant, when the effect size was taken into account, the inte raction did not appear to add any extra explanatory

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105 power. This finding is very important when determining the fairness, lack of bias, and predictive validity of DIBELS NWF for SAT-10 Reading Comprehension outcomes. It also indicates that the NWF scores predict equally well for both gender groups. However this study did not address long term outcomes for either gender group, so the predictive validity is only assured between the Fall administration of NWF and the Spring admini stration of the read ing portion of the SAT-10 in first grade. Ethnicity Caucasians tended to score significan tly higher on the SAT and NWF than Hispanics or African Americans ( p<.001). African-Ameri cans also scored significantly higher than the Hi spanic students in this sample. Also the interaction between African-American and NWF-1 when predicting SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores was significant ( p< .015). The slopes for the relationship between NWF taken in the Fall and the SAT-10 Reading Comprehension varied across different ethnic groups. The inte raction between African-American and NWF scores was significant ( p<.01). However, the inte raction between Hispanics for NWF and SAT scores was not signifi cantly different. However, when this difference in slopes was examined for functional importance and adding explanation to the model, the effect si ze was less of .01, which is minimal, and virtually adds no explanatory power to the model. This suggests that the difference between African-Americans and Caucasians in terms of the relationship between NWF and SAT-10 R eading Comprehension is not very important.

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106 This finding supports previous re search comparing different ethnic groups performance on reading achieve ment (Hixson & McGlinchey, 2004; Kranzler, Miller, & Jordan, 1999.). Kl ein and Kranzler, Miller, and Jordan (1999) found differences between 4th and 5th grade levels with intercept differences for race and ethnicity, and intercept and slope bias at Grade 5. Specifically, their study found significantly lower scores of African-American students than Caucasians on CBM read ing and California Achievement Test (CAT) Reading Comprehension subtests in all grades with the exception of the Reading Comprehension measure in grade 2. Kranzler reported that scores on the CBM measures over-predicted scores fo r African-American students on the CAT Reading Comprehension test especially at Grades 4 and 5, while under-estimating the achievement of Caucasians This finding was in part at tributed to differential intercepts found for the differing ethnic/raci al groups. In particular, the results of the analysis revealed that bias eff ects were different for each grade level examined. Bias effects for racial and et hnic differences were not significant at Grade 2, but at Grade 3 they were. Grad e 4 and 5 had the highest significant differences between the Caucasian and Af rican-American intercepts. At Grade 4 the intercept for Caucasians was 77.16 poi nts higher than that for the AfricanAmericans, which was equated to a 1.13 SD difference for ethnic/racial factors. For Grade 5, gender and racial bias we re indicated, with the intercept for Caucasians significantly higher (52.19 points) than African-Americans. The intercept for boys and girls was also signi ficantly different at this grade level, being significantly higher for girls. Also, the slopes differed for each gender at

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107 this grade level. Kranzler et al reported the boys slopes to be relatively flat and insignificant, while the girls slope was positive and substantial. These findings suggested differences for both gender and racial/ethnicity factors with CBM, especially at 4th and 5th grade levels. Alternatively, Hixson and McGlin chey (2004) found that correlations between the CBM ORF scores and th e Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) did not differ significan tly for Caucasians, African-Americans, paid lunch, or those who participated in the free-and reduced lunch program. Correlations between the ORF and the Michigan Achievement Test 7th Edition (MAT-7) were significantly different for Caucasians and African-Americans ( p<.001). Significant differences were f ound in the intercep t between the two groups. However, when simultaneous multiple regression was used to assess the significant contribution of the variables, the R2 changed from .63 to .64 for the racial group analysis, and therefore it wa s concluded that no significant additional variance was explained by adding racial group to the prediction of the MEAP scores. This finding is consistent with previous research by Klein and Jimerson (2005) who also did not find slope differen ces with respect to ethnicity when SES was controlled, as well as with th e findings of the current study. The current study therefore suggests that the relationship between SAT10 Reading Comprehension and NWF-1 is sufficiently similar across ethnic groups.

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108 Risk Levels No significant differences were f ound in prediction by risk level, once effect size was calculated, s upporting similarity of prediction for SAT-10 across the different risk groups. Specifically, the overall findings were that when each risk subgroup was analyzed separate ly, the explanatory power added by the inclusion of the interaction was not stat istically significant. Also, no significant interactions between gender and ethnicit y were evident when considering each risk group. The results of this study are impor tant because they indicate that psychometrically different prediction s of SAT-10 Reading Comprehension outcomes from initial NWF scores do not occur based on gender, three ethnicity groups (African American, Caucasian, a nd Hispanic), nor risk levels. This information is of practical significance b ecause it implies fair determination of which children are identified as at risk of future reading failure based on initial NWF scores. Such results may also extend to the use of NWF for not only helping determine which children need additional support early, but also for monitoring progress and determining response to intervention. Limitations Predictive Validity Correlations between NWF-1 and SAT-10 Reading Comprehension ranged between .16 and .60 and the variance e xplained by NWF-1 (.37) in the hierarchical model was significant at p<.001. Although NWF-1 contributes explanatory information regarding a child s performance, it explained 37% of

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109 variance, suggesting other missing variable s may also significantly determine or correlate with SAT-10 Reading Comprehension performance. Regression analysis is a correlational analysis reflecting th e degree of relationship between variables of interest, not an analysis of cause. Because we cannot conclude that NWF-1 performance is causally related to SA T-10 Reading Comprehension score, the following limitations are those which affected the data collection and implications from the analyses. Maturation effects Maturation is considered a theoretical threat to the internal validity of th is study because we know the predictor and outcome measures were taken months apart a nd the effect of ma turation cannot be controlled, as we cannot prevent this. Yet, maturation is a normal part of school naturalistic research, and is reflected in increasing goal difficulty over time. Nevertheless, the NWF measure has been designed and validated for repeated measurement, for progress monitoring, and previous research has cited the strengths of its overa ll reliability (Good et al., in pre ss) with test-rete st reliability data collected on kindergarten and first grade children. Testing conditions The second issue pert ains to the fact th at an existing data set was used and the researcher had no control over checking the accuracy and reliability of testing. Although it is sta ndard practice with DIBELS assessments that the examiners are specially trained in test administration, the researcher has no information concerning the amount of training the examiners who collected this information had. For instance, if th ere was a long gap between their training and their examining of children, possibly they may have made errors in marking

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110 the protocols. The problems of system atic versus random error have been minimized as much as possible in the coll ection of this data set. All examiners were trained in DIBELS administra tion to reduce systematic error in administration. However, random human error could still occur. Inaccurate scoring could introduce error into the results (an internal validity issue). In all test situations, there is always a degree of human error, which will in some way confound the scores, and although rigorous training tries to standardize administrations, the possibility of error will always be present when marked by people, and therefore it must be menti oned as an internal validity issue. Threats to External Validity External validity refers to the exte nt to which a study can be generalized (applied) beyond the sample. To be specific, external validity re fers to the degree to which the findings may be genera lized to other populations (population validity) and other sett ings (ecological validity) (D el Seigle, 2007). In this study population validity is worth discussing becau se the participating children attended Reading First schools. These schools are represen tative of a generally lower SES demographic and higher educational risk than the overall population of general educational children. Population validity The results gleaned from this study may only directly represent the Reading First population. Specifically, th e regression coefficients, and proportion of variance explained by SE S may be confounded by the nature of the population that attends Reading First schools. That there were differences found in the regression lines or slopes across the groups may need further

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111 research to determine probable cause, as this research was a correlational analyses. Although previous research cites the link betw een poverty and achievement over time in the school system (Evans, 2005; Mathis, 2005; Ramirez & Carpenter, 2005), poverty and low SES we re controlled for in this studys analysis, and not investigated as a causal effect. Another aspect of a threat to the population validity within this sample is the identification of population groups by ethnicity. Within a multi-cultural society, there are inter-racial, bi-ethni c marriages and children whose parents genealogy represents diversity. Concepts of race and ethnicity as distinguishing factors between groups have been challe nged by scholars within the field of Critical Race theory as representing a socio-cultural construct (Lawrence, 1993; Smedley, 1999). In this study, parents of participants self-s elected the race category for their child, but these data s hould be interpreted cautiously. Although mixed ethnicity was a choice available, in current American society, a child with any percentage of Hispanic or African-American lineage is not currently considered Caucasian, regardless the color of their skin, or language spoken at home. This study found differences betw een different ethnic groups, however, as ethnicity was a self-determined variable, and percentages of mixed ethnicity were not examined, the dissemination of the results varying by ethnicity should be addressed with caution for the reasons explained. Although a main effect was observed with the regression lines, when the effect size was calculated, the differences were not of educational signi ficance. This supporte d the interaction

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112 effect showing ethnicity produ ced little explanation to th e model, after controlling for SES. Ecological validity. Ecological validity refers to the extent to which the results of research can be generalized from the set of environmental conditions created by the researcher to other en vironmental conditions (settings and conditions) (Seigle, 2007). In this stu dy, the sample was drawn from all the Reading First schools in Florida, and these schoo ls have specific guidelines they must follow regarding the nature of reading curriculum and instruction. These guidelines are designed to promote read ing skills. These schools also receive special funding to support re ading instruction. Thus, cau tion should be excercized in generalizing the results to other educational establishments. Implications for Pr actice and Research With legislative changes (e.g., IDEA NCLB), greater opportunity now exists for school psychologists to us e a problem-solving or outcomes-driven, response to intervention approach to iden tifying and evaluating those children who may need special educational services. Ch ildren who are not successful in general education with a Tier one curriculum and/ or intervention may be identified as in need of additional instruc tional support through screen ing tools like the DIBELS NWF. However, the predictive validity of sc reening tools is critical to the first step of the outcomes-driven model, identifyi ng the need for support. Thus, tools that differentially predict performance could be problematic. If there were problems in identifying risk status for any population, th e effectiveness of a Tier One screening tool, and subsequent progress monitoring tool could be jeopardized. The results of

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113 this research found no significant differential prediction of SAT-10 Reading Comprehension scores in the spring base d upon NWF score in the fall with respect to either gender or ethnicity. This finding is important for educators because measures used to identify childrens achievement need to be culturally sensitive and unbiased. It is important to examin e differential predic tion in our current society because educators encounter incr easingly diverse populations and diverse abilities. It is important that schools use measures that do not result in differential outcomes for different populations, to ensure that childre n who truly need intervention are identified in an accurate and timely manner, so educators can provide the necessary in structional support to close achievement gaps. Implications of these findings support the growing interest in identifying children at risk early in their schooling so there is time to implement researchbased methods to help close achievement gaps and boost the literacy skills of the nation at large. This study found s upport for the use of DIBELS NWF for identifying students at-risk for readin g failure. No significantly different prediction was found between sub-groups of the sample selected from the population. However, this study did not ex amine longer-term (i.e., across more than one year) effects of having a high or moderate risk score in first grade. With current interest in read ing assessment and intervention, and federal government recognition of the problems of the traditio nal IQ-achievement model, there is growing interest in the us e of assessments like CBM and DIBELS to support the identification of students with learning di sabilities within an RTI service delivery model (Nelson & Machek, 2007).

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114 The finding of no significantly differe nt prediction facilitates test administration and score interpretation across schools and districts. It is important that decision making in school s is consistent, so admini strators determine future educational plans without over or unde r-identifying children at risk, and potentially misallocating resources. Subs equently, because NWF did not predict differentially for various subgroups in this study, it is likely a us eful aide in the early identification of students at risk for reading difficulties across populations. However, NWF alone is not a comprehe nsive assessment tool for determining reading success probabilities. As with a ny test used to screen students, results should be interpreted as a statement about probabilities. Thus, some identification of false-positives children who are identified at risk of future reading failure, who will outperform the prediction and pass within normal score limitswill occur. In part, such a finding is likely due to the effectiveness of intervening instruction that occurs between the time of screening and the time of outcome assessment. Directions for Future Research Further research could replicate the study with a different population to examine trends. Additional research can examine other assessment tools that can determine other literacy sk ill deficits. NWF only measures one core component of early literacy skillst he alphabetic principle. Fu rther, NWF does not address more advanced alphabetic principle skill s such as recognition of double vowels, double consonants, or common suffixes a nd prefixes. Because there is a gap between the alphabetic principle skills m easured by NWF and the skills measured

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115 by ORF, there is room for alternative asse ssments to identify other literacy skills which are in need of remediation to support identificati on of learning goals for at risk readers. Another suggestion for future research would be to examine which proportion of children still remain in high risk categories acro ss time in the first three years of elementary school, especia lly as Florida has a retention policy for anyone who fails the FCAT in grade 3. It w ould be interesting to be able to report an effect size of movement from high ri sk to moderate risk or low risk groups based on intervention, natural maturation of children, and any other variable (e.g., change in SES status, one parent family, health or influence of home language). However, the difficulties of assessing a nd maintaining treatment integrity across naturalistic environments is a factor wh ich could make such a study very difficult to conduct. This research adds to the body of lite rature on NWF, gender and ethnicity. Once results were controlled for SES, very little additional variance was explained by either gender or ethnicit y. Further research may be recommended to support the use of one set of benchmark scor es to help determine risk levels, as this study did not examine cut-off scores; however this resear ch has confirmed a strong link between the use of DIBELS NWF and the outcome result of the SAT10 Reading Comprehension scores. The l ack of differential prediction between and across subgroups in this sample sugge sts that NWF is suitable to use with diverse populations in Reading First schools in Florida.

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132 Appendix

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133 Appendix A: Sample Nonsense Word Fluency Probe