The relationship between early literacy assessment and first-grade reading achievement for Native American students

Gloria Jean Coats-Kitsopoulos
Educational Administration, University of South Dakota
December, 2011


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), the Reading Recovery Observation Survey (RROS) early reading sub-tests, and the reading achievement of Native American first-graders as measured by the Stanford 10. A causal-comparative correlation research design was used to describe the relationship between four of the DIBELS, RROS, and Stanford 10 subtests used to measure early basic literacy skills. Correlation coefficients describe the relationships between the variables and their predictive values. The population for this study was 112 Lakota Native American first-grade students on the Pine Ridge Reservation in rural, western South Dakota. These students represented the first-grade classes of 2004-2010 during which the teachers, principal, and reading programs were consistent. All students were eligible for the reduced/free lunch program and had attended kindergarten. Analysis of data indicated significant relationships between the fall assessments of DIBELS segmentation fluency, the RROS hearing words in sounds, and the spring Stanford 10 structural analysis subtests. There were significant relationships between the fall assessments of DIBELS nonsense word fluency and the RROS Ohio word and the spring Stanford 10 phonetic analysis subtests. The strongest relationship was between the fall RROS text reading, the winter DIBELS oral reading fluency, and the spring Stanford 10 sentence reading subtests. There was little correlation between the DIBELS word fluency, RROS concepts of print, and the Stanford 10 multiple printed word to picture subtests. DIBELS and RROS subtests can be used to predict early basic literacy scores as measured by the Stanford 10. The selective use of formative assessments which provide the best prediction of success on standardized tests represents a judicious use of school funds and instructional time.