Ask the Experts

Student Assessment - General Assessment Questions

I am concerned about the amount of assessments that my school schedule asks me to complete on all students and feel that time is taken away from helping these kindergartners adjust to the classroom. My school schedule asks me to complete six assessments from the Michigan Literacy Progress Profile (MLPP) in September on all students. Our specials services team is also administering three DIBELs assessments. I am wondering if administering this many assessments is best practice. Most of the assessments will not be used for re-testing to show student growth. I feel that this much time testing takes away from my ability to help these kindergartners become adjusted to the classroom. I also feel that if these tests are not going to be used for group placement and growth, that maybe the testing schedule should be re-evaluated. What do you think?

Response from Evelyn Johnson, Ed.D.:

It sounds like your school is working hard to implement a universal screening process that will identify kindergarteners who may require intervention in order to become successful readers, and that is great! It also sounds like your school asks you to complete a number of assessments to ensure that all students who may be at-risk are identified. The research on screening suggests that using multiple measures can result in a more accurate screening process – having more data points on student performance provides more stability in the scores obtained during the screening process. That means we can have more confidence in the decisions made as a result of screening. Additionally, using a variety of measures that assess various component skills of reading may serve an important diagnostic role; areas of relative strength and weakness can be identified in order to determine an appropriate intervention for that child.


However, as you note, there needs to be a balance between efficiency and accuracy in the screening process, and given that your school is using nine assessments (by my count) on all students, it may be worthwhile to evaluate the screening procedure to determine if all measures are truly necessary for all students. There are several ways to evaluate the screening process. I'll outline a couple that should help. Using last year's screening and outcome data, a regression analysis can identify the strongest predictor(s) of end of year reading performance.


Procedures for running such analyses are outlined in screening articles such as Catts, Fey, Zhang & Tomblin, (2001). Through this type of analysis, your school may find that it is only necessary to administer a few measures to accurately identify students in need of intervention.


Alternatively, a small number of measures can be used to identify an initial risk pool of students, and then this initial group of students can have their progress monitored for five to six weeks using a curriculum-based measure (CBM). Research has shown that this process results in a very accurate identification process (see for example, Compton, Fuchs, Fuchs & Bryant, 2006; Davis, Lindo & Compton, 2007).


Either one of these procedures may help your school streamline the screening process to include only that which is necessary for you to identify early those kindergarteners who require intervention in order to become successful readers.


Catts, H. W., Fey, M. E., Zhang, X., & Tomblin, J. B. (2001). Estimating the risk of future reading difficulties in kindergarten children. Language, Speech, and Hearing in the Schools, 32, 38-50.


Compton, D. L., Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Bryant, J. D. (2006). Selecting at-risk readers in first grade for early intervention: A two-year longitudinal study of decision rules and procedures. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 394-409.


Davis, G. N., Lindo, E. J., & Compton, D. (2007). Children at-risk for reading failure: Constructing an early screening measure. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39 (5), 32-39.

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