Technical adequacy and cost benefit of four measures of early literacy

James R. McBride, Jim Ysseldyke, Michael Milone, Eric Stickney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Technical adequacy and information/cost return were examined for four early reading measures: the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), STAR Early Literacy (SEL), Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GRADE), and the Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI). All four assessments were administered to the same students in each of Grades K through 2 over a 5-week period; the samples included 200 students per grade from 7 states. Both SEL and DIBELS were administered twice to establish their retest reliability in each grade. We focused on the convergent validity of each assessment for measuring five critical components of reading development identified by the U.S. National Research Panel: Phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. DIBELS and TPRI both are asserted to assess all five of these components; GRADE and STAR Early Literacy explicitly measure all except fluency. For all components, correlations among relevant subtests were high and comparable. The pattern of intercorrelations of nonfluency measures with fluency suggests the tests of fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and word reading are measuring the same underlying construct. A separate cost-benefit study was conducted and showed that STAR Early Literacy was the most cost-effective measure among those studied. In terms of amount of time per unit of test administration or teachers' time, CAT (computerized adaptive testing) in general, and STAR Early Literacy in particular, is an attractive option for early reading assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-204
Number of pages16
JournalCanadian Journal of School Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Computerized adaptive testing
  • Early literacy assessment


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