Screening Parent Ideas 5 Essential Components Instructional Strategies Diagnostic Tests  Interventions


What are the Dibels (sounds like dibbles with a short i) measures?

The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills.

To find out more click on: 

The Illinois Snapshot of Early Learning (ISEL) 

The Illinois Snapshots of Early Literacy (ISEL) is a classroom-based beginning reading inventory for use in kindergarten and first grade classrooms. The ISEL identifies students in need of an early reading intervention program and provides diagnostic information for planning instruction. This inventory reflects both the national standards for reading and the Illinois Learning Standards. There are two versions of the ISEL, Spanish and English. The Spanish version is not simply a translation from the English version, but takes into account the nature of the Spanish language in spelling and phonemic structure.

For a teachers guide click on the Early Childhood link on the  website.


Other screening tests: 

Quick Neurological Screening Test

Revised Edition


M. Mutti, H. M. Sterling, N.V.

Academic Therapy Publications




Screening Test of Academic Readiness



A. Edward Ahr, Ed.D.

Priority Innovations, Inc.




Slingerland Screening Tests for Identifying Children with Specific Language Disability

Form A (G. 1 & 2), Form B (G. 2 & 3), Form C (G. 3 & 4)


Beth H. Slingerland

Educators Publishing Service



Minnesota Percepto-Diagnostic Test

Purpose: Designed to measure visual perception and visual-motor abilities.

Population: Ages 5 and over.

Score: Not indicated.

Time: (8) minutes.

Author: Gerald B. Fuller.

Publisher: Clinical Psychology Publishing Company, Inc.

Description: The Minnesota Percepto-Diagnostic Test (MPD), is a clinical and educational test constructed to measure visual perception and visual-motor abilities in children and adults. The MPD offers prompt, objective evidence of differential status, providing measures that may be used in conjunction with other information to 1) discriminate among visual, auditory, and mixed learning disabilities; 2) classify children’s behavioral problems as normal, emotionally disturbed, schizophrenic, or organic; and 3) diagnostically separate normal, brain-damaged and personality-disturbed adults.

Scoring: Scoring involves an evaluation of reproduced figures in terms of degrees of rotation, distortion, and separation. Scores are then transferred to a diagnostic summary sheet.

Reliability: Split-half reliabilities for the MPD range from .52 (for 12 year-old subjects) to .86 (for 5 year old subjects) with a median of .60. In terms of test-retest reliability, using a three-month retest interval, stability coefficients range from .53 with 9 year-old subjects to .70 with 20 year-old subjects. Using a one-year interval, coefficients range from .37 to .60. Parallel form reliabilities (uncorrected) have a median value of .47 (median corrected value of .84).

Validity: Using rotation scores with a sample of 657 adults, the MPD correctly classified 81% as normal (N = 267), personality-disturbed (N = 211), or brain-damaged (N = 179). With 1,872 children, rotation scores correctly classified 82% as normal (N = 1,287), emotionally disturbed (N = 339), or either brain-damaged or schizophrenic (N = 246). The MPD rotation scores could not distinguish between schizophrenic and brain-damaged children. With respect to children’s reading ability, for a sample of 703 children, 90% could be appropriately diagnosed as demonstrating good reading, primary reading retardation, secondary reading retardation, or brain-damaged reading. The manual cites investigations indicating 85% and 78% hit rates, respectively, in differentiating between organic and nonorganic children.

Norms: The normative sample includes 4,000 children and adolescents (aged 5-20 years) and 657 adults.

Suggested Uses: The MPD is recommended as a brief screening device of learning disabilities and behavior problems in clinical or research settings.

Slosson Intelligence Test

Purpose: Designed for use as a "quick estimate of general verbal cognitive ability."

Population: Ages 4-0 and over.

Scores: Total score only.

Time: (10-20) minutes.

Authors: Richard L. Slosson, Charles L. Nicholson (revision), and Terry H. Hibpshman (revision).

Publisher: Slosson Educational Publications, Inc.

Description: The manual states that the purpose of the Slosson Intelligence Test (SIT) is to serve as a "quick estimate of general verbal cognitive ability" or "index of verbal intelligence." Although reviewers have described it as a brief screening measure of verbal crystallized intelligence, the manual presents appropriate cautions about interpretation of the SIT as a screening measure, suggesting at several points that follow-up assessment is necessary to corroborate SIT results.

Scoring: The SIT is easy to administer and score. The test contains 187 untimed items assessing the cognitive domains of vocabulary, general information, similarities and differences, comprehension, quantitative ability, and auditory memory. All the items are presented in question and answer format. The raw score is computed by adding the highest item in the basal to the number of correct responses after the basal.

Reliability: Kuder-Richardson 20 reliability coefficients by age level range from .88 to .97, indicating a high degree of inter-item consistency. Test-retest reliability is reported to be .96, based on a weak sample size of 41 and a one-week administration interval. Split-half reliability, calculated using the Spearman-Brown correction and the Rulon procedure, was .97 for the entire sample.

Validity: Concurrent criterion-related validity is based on correlations between the SIT total standard score and the WAIS-R and the WISC-R IQS. In a study of 10 subjects, significant correlations were found between TSS and three IQ scores on the WAIS-R. Comparisons with the WISC-R were made utilizing 234 subjects between the ages of 6 and 16. At each of four age levels the TSS correlated significantly with each of the WISC-R IQS.

Norms: The sample approximates the percentages found in the United States in terms of geographic region, occupational category, educational level, gender, and race. Minorities are under represented in the standardization sample as are those living in areas with populations below 5,000 and above 500,000.

Suggested Uses: It is recommended that the SIT is suitable for screening purposes, although reviewers recommend using the short form of other comprehensive intelligence test batteries that are more psychometrically sound.

 Metropolitan Readiness Tests

The Metropolitan Readiness Tests are a widely used battery of tests for prekindergarten to first grade. These tests assess the development of language and mathematical skills necessary for early school learning. They are generally used not as an admissions test but as an aid to class placement and sometimes to help determine promotion to the first or second grade. The tests, which can be administered individually or in groups, take 80 to 100 minutes and are given in four to seven sittings. There are two different forms, or levels, which partially overlap. Level One, which assesses pre-reading abilities, is used with four-year-olds in preschool but may also be given up to the middle of kindergarten. It consists of subtests (called composites) evaluating auditory memory , beginning consonants, letter recognition, visual matching, school language and listening, and quantitative language. Level Two, which measures skills needed for beginning reading and mathematics, is used from the middle of kindergarten to early in the first grade. Skills assessed include beginning consonants, sound-letter correspondence, visual matching, finding patterns, school language, listening, quantitative concepts, and quantitative operations. Results of the Metropolitan Readiness Tests are reported as a raw score, a national performance rating, and a percentile ranking.

Further Reading

For Your Information


Cohen, Libby G., and Loraine J. Spenciner. Assessment of Young Children. New York : Longman, 1994.
McCullough , Virginia . Testing and Your Child: What You Should Know About 150 of the Most Common Medical, Educational, and Psychological Tests. New York : Plume, 1992.
Wortham, Sue Clark. Tests and Measurement in Early Childhood Education. Columbus : Merrill Publishing Co., 1990.

Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood & Adolescence. Gale Research, 1998.


McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities

Purpose: Designed to assess the abilities of preschool children.

Population: Children, ages 2.5 - 8.5.

Score: Six scale scores.

Time:(45-60) minutes.

Author: Dorothea McCarthy.

Publisher: The Psychological Corporation.

Description: The McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities (MSCA) is a measurement device used to assess the abilities of preschool children.

Scoring: The results of the MSCA produce six scale scores: verbal, perceptual-performance, quantitative, composite (general cognitive), memory, motor.

Reliability: In the MSCA manual, McCarthy provides information on the internal consistency and stability of test scores, as they were obtained from the standardization sample. The internal consistency coefficients for the General Cognitive Index (GCI) averaged .93 across 10 age groups between 2.5, and 8.5 years. Mean reliability coefficients for the other five Index Scales ranged from .79 to .88. The manual includes information on test-retest reliability over a one month interval on a stratified sample of 125 children grouped into three age levels. The average coefficient for the GCI was .80, with correlations ranging from .69 to .89 for the other scales. Other studies of long and short-term stability resulted in stability coefficients for the GCI of .81 and .84, respectively. Stability coefficients of the cognitive scales ranged from .62 to .76 with the Motor Scale emerging as the only scale that lacked stability (r=33).

Validity: According to the manual, the content of the MSCA and the organization of the six scales were determined primarily through "intuitive and functional considerations" based on McCarthy’s extensive teaching and clinical experience. Analyses of the standardization data for five age groups and for separate groups of blacks and whites have given generally good support for the construct validity of the battery for normal children, although each factor did not emerge for every age group. The results also provide evidence that a child’s profile of MSCA Index scores reflect real and meaningful performance in domains of cognitive and motor ability. The major practical implication of these results for test users is that a child’s strengths and weaknesses can be determined through the interpretation of differences on Scale Indexes, as proposed originally by McCarthy.

Norms: The test was standardized on a sample of 1,032 children stratified by race, geographic region, father’s occupational status, and, informally, urban-rural residency, in accordance with the 1970 U.S. Census data. The major problem which has affected test users’ confidence in the meaning of the scores is the exclusion of exceptional children from the standardization sample.

Suggested Uses: The MSCA is a useful aid in screening and diagnostic decisions.


Quick Neurological Screening Test, Revised Edition

Purpose: Designed for use in screening for early identification of disabilities.

Population: Ages 5 and over.

Score: Norms suggest cutoff scores.

Time: (20) minutes.

Authors: Margaret Mutti, Harold M. Sterling, and Norma V. Spalding.

Publisher: Academic Therapy Publications.

Description: The Quick Neurological Screening Test (QNST) is composed of 15 observed tasks that reportedly can be used as a screening test for learning disabilities. These tasks are very simple in nature and were adapted primarily from a typical pediatric neurological examination; however, a few tasks were derived from developmental scales or neuropsychological tests.

Scoring: Subjective scoring is required for the tasks, which include: handwriting ability, perceptual ability for numbers written on the palms of the hands, eye tracking, finger to nose coordination, rapidly reversing repetitive hand movements, tandem walk, and arm and leg extension. The test requires that the examiner be highly observant of the child’s behavior and make subjective ratings concerning the child’s performance. These subjective ratings are then compared to cutoff scores in the manual.

Reliability: Although subjective scoring is involved in the test, no direct measure of scorer reliability is presented in the manual. Indirect evidence suggests that there is some examiner bias. For example, in one study a test-retest reliability coefficient of .81 is reported after a month interval for 33 learning disabled children who were tested by a single examiner. A single examiner is likely to exercise the same scoring bias on two administrations. A lower reliability coefficient of .71 was reported in another study after a 1 month interval with two different examiners. Apparently one examiner administered the first test and another examiner the follow-up test. The difference between these two correlations may imply that individual examiners employ slightly different criteria in scoring even though both attempted to follow the instructions.

Validity: The QNST seems to be best for matching the findings of a standard pediatric neurological examination. In one study of over 550 subjects, 30% of which had positive neurological findings, the QNST was abnormally high in 98% of these. No patient had a positive neurological examination and a QNST in the normal range. A major problem with the QNST, however, is that a large unspecified number of subjects had abnormally high QNST scores and no positive finds on neurological examination.

Norms: 2,239 subjects from learning disabled and undifferentiated populations.

Suggested Uses: It is recommended that the QNST could be included as only one test in a battery of neuropsychological tests for learning disabilities.