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Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

School Psychology

Year Degree Awarded

2018

Month Degree Awarded

September

First Advisor

Amanda M. Marcotte

Subject Categories

School Psychology

Abstract

Early identification of children who are likely to struggle to achieve reading proficiency is essential to providing them timely access to effective interventions. Thus, universal screening is a critical feature of preventative service delivery models that identify students at risk and provide early support for reading difficulties. As schools choose assessment tools for this purpose, three aspects of universal screening tools are especially important to consider: appropriateness for the intended use, technical adequacy, and usability. Using these standards for assessment review, this study investigated two screening tools commonly used to identify first-graders at risk for reading failure: the Aimsweb Tests of Early Literacy (TEL) and Reading Curriculum Based Measurement- Reading (R-CBM), and the Developmental Reading Assessment-Second Edition (DRA2), an informal reading inventory (IRI). First, test materials were examined for evidence of alignment to important constructs of interest, usability, and technical adequacy. A questionnaire was employed to gather information from twelve first-grade educators from four elementary schools in one diverse suburban district about decisions made using data from each assessment. Finally, to examine predictive validity, an important aspect of technical adequacy, scores on each screening tool as well as third-grade outcome measures were analyzed for 269 students in the participating district.

Results indicated that the TEL measures were more closely aligned to early reading constructs of interest than the DRA2, and also demonstrated more efficient usability characteristics. However, the educator questionnaire revealed that both assessments are endorsed by teachers for the purpose of screening. While both tools are indeed predictive of later reading achievement, neither resulted in adequate classification accuracy to be recommended for use as a stand-alone screening tool. In addition, the DRA2 resulted in high levels of problematic false negative screening results, meaning that it under identifies students at risk, potentially neglecting students’ access to timely intervention. Analysis of classification accuracy for subgroups including English language learners and students eligible for free and reduced lunch revealed that classification accuracy varies by subgroup membership, affecting the predictive validity of screening tools with these populations. Implications for practice and future research are addressed.

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