What In The World Is D.I.B.E.L.S.?

portrayal-89193_150When I first heard the acronym DIBELS, it sounded like a child’s game, perhaps something akin to marbles.  I could just picture children vying for the biggest DIBEL or trading for a better one.

DIBELS actually stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.

In short, it is a reading test.  Public school children in grades K – 3 are required to submit to this test 3 times a year; beginning, middle, and end.  It is meant to gauge the students reading progress.  As a virtual home school student, “J” must take this test.

The oral exam encompasses reading fluency, phonetic awareness, vocabulary, and comprehension.  Government standards mandate that students should be able to read at a certain level by each of the given tests.  The DIBELS is a standardized test for the earliest grades.

“J” is 6 years old.  He began the school year in kindergarten, but completed the required curriculum quickly and will complete 1st grade by the end of the school year.  Because of his age and where he began the year, he is technically considered a kindergartner; thus, he is required to complete the kindergarten DIBELS test.

This makes no sense to me and, fortunately, his teacher agrees.  She administered the kindergarten test as required, but also had him complete the test for the end of 1st grade.  According to the government, “J” should be reading at a rate of 40 words per minute.  This is according to the 1st grade test.  He blew those scores out of the water and read at an astounding 90 words per minute.  This was 90 error-free words.  She then tested him on his comprehension and recall.  Not only is he able to read fluently, but he remembers and comprehends what he reads.

These little tests only serve to reinforce what I have believed all along — that “J” will flourish in our virtual homeschool world.  Had I allowed him to be “taught” in a traditional public school setting, he would not be where he is today.

Traditional schools attempt to mold students into something that society deems as “normal”.  When children fall below this box, they are fixed.  When children perform above this box, they are stifled.

The beauty of our virtual world lies in the ability to learn outside the box, whenever and however we want!

God Bless 🙂


I am a Christian, Virtual/Homeschooling mom of 3 who loves helping my children realize those AWESOME "lightbulb" moments!

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8 comments on “What In The World Is D.I.B.E.L.S.?
  1. jwang64 says:

    I generally believe that home school students will always do better than a publicly taught student. A parent will take better charge of the education of his or her child than a teacher would have. I agree that public schools tend to limit those above average initially, but soon your child will likely be placed in gifted classes. I sometimes worry about the education inequality; gifted students like your child will constantly be challenged and succeed academically, but other students will not be fully challenged academically. There is a system in which those who are ahead will always stay ahead which will cause a large gap between students. Classes should be created so every student is challenged from the minute they walk into the classroom rather than separating those who receive the challenges and those that don’t.

    • I agree, jwang64. I have an older son (now 17) who struggled greatly in the traditional public school setting. He was diagnosed as ADHD in 2nd grade, held back in 5th grade, and barely passing 7th grade. He was one of the main reasons we chose to forgo the traditional brick and mortar school. At the time, traditional homeschool was not an option for us and we chose a virtual school. We love it. All three of my children are different. The 17 year old struggles, the 10 year old gets straight A’s and is right where her peers are, and the 6 year old is leaps and bounds above his peers. I have all spots in the spectrum covered. 🙂 The individual attention I can give them and the individual attention they get from their teachers far exceeds anything a traditional public school offers. Thank you so much for visiting. God Bless 🙂

  2. Gina says:

    I used to be a homeschooling mom, until I became a single parent. I am very familiar with the DIBELS test & your assumptions are spot on. I taught my older children how to read and they are strong avid readers. Two of my children, who did not have the privilege of being homeschooled have struggled a great deal in learning to read. I cannot tell you how much this grieves me; because, reading is such a vital life skill. In many ways, I still continue to teach the children as time allows and feel just as responsible for their education as before. Great topic! And it sounds like you’re giving “J” a great start!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Gina 🙂 I am glad you were able to homeschool for a little while. I hope I will be able to continue for a long time! Thank you for your encouragement 🙂

  3. jj says:

    It is the unfortunate truth that mainstream schools are not good places for gifted children. Even ‘advanced’ or ‘enriched’ classes just seem to pile on more work, rather than allowing kids to explore their strength. Your ‘J’ is lucky to be able to work to his own pace!

    • Thank you for your kind words, JJ 🙂 I love that all my kiddos are able to explore their strengths. Their are so many misconceptions about virtual schooling, and I hope to dispel some of the myths. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Great Article! I am glad that you gave me another great reason to take this journey with my children when it is time for them to begin schooling. Thank you for all of the information that you have helped me to make my decision. 🙂

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