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Early Literacy Universal Screening Assessments

The Importance of Universal Screening for Early Literacy

All schools serving students in grades K–2 should conduct literacy screenings with an appropriate assessment. The Massachusetts Dyslexia Guidelines state, "screening students for risk of dyslexia and other reading disabilities is one essential process in preventing reading difficulties" (MA Dyslexia Guidelines, pg. 22 ). Through screening, educators collect and analyze reliable and valid data on the most predictive literacy skills, making it possible to identify each student's risk of experiencing reading difficulties. Using an MTSS model, educators can use this data to inform instructional pacing, intensity, differentiation, and targeted intervention and to determine if additional assessment is needed (MA Dyslexia Guidelines ). For detailed information about screening and data-based decision-making for early literacy, visit the Mass Literacy Guide.

DESE Review of Universal Screening Assessments

In 2022, DESE engaged in a comprehensive process to identify early literacy universal screeners that comport with the Massachusetts Dyslexia Guidelines and principles of anti-bias. A diverse group of experts which included researchers, teachers, administrators, and specialists worked with DESE to determine assessment criteria. Publishers had the opportunity to submit information about their assessments, which were reviewed and scored based on established criteria . Current Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approved early literacy universal screeners are listed below in two categories: Meets Expectations and Partially Meets Expectations.

For details about each approved assessment, download the Screening Assessments At-a-Glance guide .

Approved Early Literacy Universal Screening Assessments

Approved: Meets Expectations

The following early literacy universal screening assessments met all DESE's required criteria in the 2022 review. These assessments are currently approved.

DIBELS 8th Edition from University of Oregon

Can be used with DIBELS 8 Data System (DDS), offered through Amplify

Highlights and Challenges
Highlights of this AssessmentChallenges to be Aware Of
  • Set of one-minute fluency probes
  • Teacher administered to individual student
  • Opportunities for direct teacher observation of how students approach literacy tasks
  • Electronic scoring and analysis using DDS version
  • Available in Spanish; linguistically authentic
  • Progress Monitoring tools provided
  • A Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) score is determined through a Letter Naming Fluency (LNF) Task with distinct cut scores. Younger students without automaticity of letter recognition may have difficulty with this task. MA Dyslexia Guidelines recommend using objects for the first administration of RAN in kindergarten.

EarlyBird from EarlyBird Education

Highlights and Challenges
Highlights of this AssessmentChallenges to be Aware Of
  • Gamified tablet-based app with virtual prizes awarded for completing literacy tasks
  • Computer adaptive: tool adjusts to student's responses/performance
  • Student independently engages with the games; recommend adult oversight for small groups
  • Dashboard provides exceptionally clear and usable assessment data and easily accessed explanations of data
  • Currently available in English only
  • Currently available for kindergarten only
  • Progress Monitoring Tools are not currently available

mCLASS from Amplify

Highlights and Challenges
Highlights of this AssessmentChallenges to be Aware Of
  • Set of one-minute fluency probes
  • Observational assessment (by educator) using a mobile technology platform (tablet) with fully digital scoring and analysis
  • Includes a vocabulary component
  • Available in Spanish; linguistically authentic
  • Dual language reports available
  • Progress monitoring tools provided
  • A Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) score is determined through a Letter Naming Fluency (LNF) Task with distinct cut scores. Younger students without automaticity of letter recognition may have difficulty with this task. MA Dyslexia Guidelines recommend using objects for the first administration of RAN in kindergarten.

Approved: Partially Meets Expectations

The following early literacy universal screening assessments met many criteria and did not meet in at least one area in the 2022 review. These assessments are currently approved.

Acadience Reading K–6 from Voyager Sopris Learning

Highlights and Challenges
Highlights of this AssessmentChallenges to be Aware Of
  • Previously known as DIBELS Next, Acadience uses a series of short, fluency-based probes
  • Digital version offers a data management system which includes a dashboard experience
  • "Pathways of Progress" reporting allows educators to set student goals and evaluate progress; clarifies what rate of progress is typical
  • Progress monitoring tools provided
  • Uses a nonsense word reading task to measure word reading. The MA Dyslexia Guidelines recommend inclusion of single word recognition as a word reading/word identification task.
  • Vocabulary and Listening Comprehension subtests are experimental and untimed
  • Currently available in English only
Considerations:

Educators wanting to include a word reading task as recommended in the MA Dyslexia Guidelines, could consider using the word reading task from DIBELS 8th Edition. This measure is available at no cost on the DIBELS 8th Edition website. While the score from this subtest would not be included in the student's level of risk determination, educators could consider this information along with the full data set collected from the Acadience Reading assessment.

While not explicitly included in the MA Dyslexia Guidelines, listening and oral comprehension are predictive of reading difficulties. Educators are encouraged to use the experimental listening comprehension and vocabulary tasks included with Acadience and/or to screen these skills with other tools.

i-READY from Curriculum Associates

Highlights and Challenges
Highlights of this AssessmentChallenges to be Aware Of
  • For universal screening, MA educators will use i-Ready Diagnostic and i-Ready Literacy Tasks, although there are many other assessments included as part of the suite.
  • Core component is i-Ready Diagnostic, a computer adaptive assessment that adjusts to the student's performance
  • i-Ready Literacy Tasks are administered one-to-one with a focus on foundational and fluency skills
  • Spanish Reading available as a fixed form (not adaptive) but administered digitally; linguistically authentic
  • Progress monitoring tools provided
  • Strong professional development will be needed to ensure teachers understand the comprehensiveness of this suite of assessments.
  • Some subtests are measured on two different assessments.
  • For the word identification task on i-Ready Diagnostic, students view a short list of words and are asked via computer audio to identify the word they hear. This task does not provide an opportunity for students to read words aloud. A task in which students read words aloud is available using the i-Ready Literacy Tasks assessment.
Considerations

While not explicitly included in the MA Dyslexia Guidelines, listening and oral language comprehension are predictive of reading difficulties. For readers, i-Ready includes an oral retell task as part of Passage Reading Fluency. For younger students, educators may want to screen these skills with other tools.

The i-Ready Diagnostic has been shown to accurately predict future reading difficulties; the i-Ready Literacy Tasks have not (NCII Classification Accuracy).

MAP Reading Fluency from NWEA

Highlights and Challenges
Highlights of this AssessmentChallenges to be Aware Of
  • Computer adaptive assessment that adjusts to student's performance
  • Speech scoring technology records and scores students' oral reading; educators can review, hand score, and share if desired
  • Spanish available as a computer adaptive assessment for K–3 for benchmarking; linguistically authentic
  • Progress monitoring tools provided
  • Does not include a Decoding Nonsense Words task as recommended by the MA Dyslexia Guidelines.
  • RAN Task uses pictures only; does not include a RAN letters task as recommended by MA Dyslexia Guidelines.
Considerations
Educators wanting to include a nonsense word decoding task and RAN Letters task as recommended in the MA Dyslexia Guidelines, could consider using the Nonsense Word Fluency task and Letter Naming Fluency task (with the RAN cut-scores) from DIBELS 8th Edition. These measures are available at no cost on the DIBELS 8th Edition website. While the scores from these subtests would not be included in the student's level of risk determination, educators could consider this information along with the full data set collected from MAP Reading Fluency.

STAR (Early Literacy, Reading and CBM) from Renaissance

Highlights and Challenges
Highlights of this AssessmentChallenges to be Aware Of
  • For universal screening, MA educators will use at least two of the following assessments: Star Early Literacy; Star Reading; and Star CBM
  • Star Early Literacy and Star Reading are computer adaptive assessments; students progress to Star Reading if they are independent readers (grade one and above)
  • Star CBM is administered one-to-one with focus on targeted skills
  • Available in Spanish; linguistically authentic
  • Progress monitoring tools provided
  • Strong professional development will be needed to ensure teachers understand the comprehensiveness of this suite of assessments.
  • Some subtests are measured on two different assessments.
  • There is no Word Reading task as identified in the MA Dyslexia Guidelines. The MA Dyslexia Guidelines recommend inclusion of single word recognition as a word reading/word identification task.
  • There are no oral language comprehension/listening comprehension tasks
  • RAN Letters task is currently being field tested and is not available as of June 2022.
Considerations

Educators wanting to include a word reading task as recommended in the MA Dyslexia Guidelines, could consider using the word reading task from DIBELS 8th Edition. This measure is available at no cost on the DIBELS 8th Edition Website. While the score from this subtest would not be included in the student's level of risk determination, educators could consider this information along with the full data set collected from the STAR assessments.

While not explicitly included in the MA Dyslexia Guidelines, listening and oral language comprehension are predictive of reading difficulties. Educators may want to screen these skills with other tools.

STAR Reading (grades 1–5) and STAR CBM (grades 1–5) have been shown to accurately predict future reading difficulties; STAR Early Literacy has not (NCII Classification Accuracy).

Also Reviewed

The following early literacy universal screening assessments were reviewed and did not meet all required criteria at this time. These assessments may meet expectations in the future if DESE receives additional information demonstrating that required criteria are met. Assessments not listed on this page have not submitted materials for DESE review.

  • Aimsweb Plus from NCS Pearson
  • Amira from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Fastbridge from Illuminate
  • Istation Indicators of Progress (ISIP) from IStation
  • Lion for Reading from Liberty Source

Information for Schools and Districts

  • MA DESE is expecting additional responses from publishers and will update this list periodically.
  • Approved assessments shown with a checkbox have been issued a contract under a Master Agreement, under which districts may make purchases without needing to do their own competitive procurement. If your district would like to utilize the Master Agreement please contact nechama.d.goldberg@mass.gov to obtain any documentation required by your district Business Office.
  • Please contact Mary.L.Brown@mass.gov with any questions.

Information for Vendors

DESE has issued a bid opportunity for vendors interested in providing early literacy screening assessments to schools and/or districts in Massachusetts, which is open until December 31, 2024, through COMMBUYS, the state's procurement system. Please contact Mary.L.Brown@mass.gov with any questions.

Disclosure Statement

Reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Our office is not responsible for and does not in any way guarantee the accuracy of information in other sites accessible through links herein. DESE may supplement this list with other services and products that meet the specified criteria.

Last Updated: September 21, 2022

 
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Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.