Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Kelly A. Powell-Smith, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Michael J. Curtis, Ph.D.

Keywords

Data utilization, Education, Assessment, Data-based decisions, Evaluation

Abstract

The aim of the Reading First grant program was to (a) increase quality and consistency of instruction in K-3 classrooms; (b) conduct timely and valid assessments of student reading growth in order to identify students experiencing reading difficulties; and (c) provide high quality, intensive interventions to help struggling readers catch up with their peers (Torgesen, 2002). In the State of Florida, school districts must incorporate the use of an assessment tool called the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) to qualify for Reading First grant funding. Though DIBELS has been found to be a valid and reliable assessment for screening, monitoring, and evaluating student outcomes in early literacy skills, very little discussion or research has been conducted concerning teacher use and attitudes about DIBELS within a Reading First program. The present study involved a qualitative analysis of teachers' perceptions and use of the DIBELS within a Reading First context. Fourteen teachers (seven kindergarten and seven first grade teachers), Reading Coaches, non-teaching Specialists, and DIBELS experts participated in the present study. Results were aggregated for comparisons across multiple data sources. Results suggest teacher's perceptions may not be easily classified on a simple dichotomous range; rather their reported benefits and concerns on the use of the DIBELS were found to be varied and highly situational. Results were further interpreted in the context of research literature on data utilization and analysis in schools.

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