The design of Let’s Go Learn’s online diagnostic assessments, reporting, and AI system allow our team to accommodate the needs of school districts and individual schools, preserving all the while the validity and reliability of the assessments. Accommodations may include those for students with disabilities or other student impediments to testing. Our professional development and training include updating to include accommodations and strategies necessary for any changes made.
DORA (Diagnostic Online Reading Assessment) is criterion-referenced, adaptive in nature, and delivered online. It is diagnostic in nature and can be used as a measure of student growth. Post assessment, comprehensive reports are provided to teachers and administrators to help with SLO creations and monitoring. DORA diagnostically evaluates each student’s reading abilities while providing the highest level of reliability and accuracy with highly reliable assessments with overall high coefficient alphas.
In addition, test-retest consistency is high from 0.69 to 0.84. Sections that make up individual subtests are items written to test specific skills within the scope and sequence of the sub-test. These CBM level sections acquire their reliability in part from the test design that aggregates specific skills items together while maintaining p-values that range from 0.25 to 0.75. Individual field testing of each CBM level section requires a mastery versus non- mastery score of 0.75 or higher which was the lowest threshold requirement for decision consistency by pools of students with previously established skills mastered.
DORA was created to paint a picture of an individual’s reading strategies more accurately across multiple measures which follow a constructivist perspective of the reading pro (Flores et al., 1991). The most effective way to characterize a child’s reading ability is to assess his or her reading skills across a set of criterion-referenced categories that are important to the reading process. The eight reading skills measured by Let’s Go Learn are: 1) High Frequency Words, 2) Phonemic Awareness, 3) Phonics, 4) Word Recognition, 5) Vocabulary, 6) Spelling, 7) Silent Reading Comprehension, and 8) Fluency.
High Frequency Words Subtest
This subtest assesses children’s ability to automatically recognize words that have been identified as frequently occurring in books, newspapers, and other texts. This subtest uses words from Edward B. Fry’s 300 sight words as test items which have been broken down into three general levels of difficulty (Fry, Kress, & Fountoukidis, 2004). A child’s response time in identifying these sight words is recorded and factored into the scoring of the child’s performance on the assessment.
Phonemic Awareness Subtest
According to Ruddell (1998), by the time children are between three and four years old, they have learned most of the approximately 40 phonemes (discrete sounds in words) which comprise the English language. The ability to hear and manipulate these discrete sounds in spoken words is referred to as “phonemic awareness.” Children demonstrate their phonemic awareness by segmenting words into individual sounds (i.e., /fish/ into /f/-/i/-/sh/), deleting sounds in words, blending sounds, adding sounds, or substituting sounds within a word to make a new word. Some researchers have indicated that phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of reading success (Stanovich, 1993-1994). Others further argue that phonemic awareness is both the prerequisite and consequence of learning to read (Yopp, 1992). As such, it is especially important to determine children’s level of phonemic awareness in the primary grades to ensure that they get any necessary intervention as early readers, lest they struggle with reading as young adults. Specific phonemic awareness categories tested include: 1) addition, 2) deletion, 3) substitution, 4) identification, 5) categorization, 6) blending, 7) segmenting, 8) isolation, and 9) rhyming.
In addition to having an awareness of the discrete sounds in words, children need to master how sounds and words are represented in English. This is important because children need to be able to effortlessly decode and recognize familiar and unfamiliar words to help facilitate the process of negotiating the meaning behind the text (Adams, 1990; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). The phonics subtest assesses a child’s ability to recognize basic English phonetic principles of high utility (Pressley & Woloshyn, 1995). These phonetic principles include: 1) beginning sounds, 2) short vowel sounds, 3) blends, 4) the silent E rule, 5) consonant digraphs, 6) vowel digraphs, 7) r-controlled vowels, 8) diphthongs, and 9) syllabification.
Word Recognition Subtest
As in many informal reading inventories such as the Qualitative Reading Inventory (Leslie & Caldwell, 1994), the Basic Reading Inventory (Johns, 2001) and the Diagnostic Assessment of Reading (Roswell & Chall, 1992), DORA’s Word Recognition subtest assesses a learner’s ability to recognize leveled lists of words. In this subtest, children are presented with a number of increasingly difficult words until they reach a level at which they “frustrate” or stop recognizing the words presented to them. The final outcome of the assessment gives teachers an idea of the grade-level ability of a child to recognize words out of context. This assessment is important in identifying how well an individual can use what he or she knows about text to recognize words outside the context of a sentence and of increasing difficulty.
A learner’s knowledge of words and what they mean is an important part of the reading process, as knowledge of word meanings affects the extent to which the learner comprehends what he or she reads (National Reading Panel, 2000). The vocabulary subtest assesses a child’s understanding of words. The words from this subtest were selected by teachers and reading specialists to reflect the types of words children learn in various disciplines at different grade levels and in various stages of their lives. Similar to the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (Dunn, 1959), in the vocabulary subtest children are asked to select the picture which correctly corresponds to a word they hear. The program continues to present children with increasingly difficult words until they make a certain number of errors. This subtest provides information about a child’s level of oral vocabulary.
The process of spelling involves many cognitive processes. While each person uses different strategies for spelling words, these strategies usually have in common a familiarity with a particular word (i.e., familiarity with its meaning and visual exposure to the word), letter-sound matching, and confirmation of how the word “looks” (Bear et al., 2000; Ruddell, 1999; Gillet & Temple, 1994). Because spelling is also a generative process (as opposed to a decoding and meaning-making process in reading), it is natural for young readers’ spelling abilities to lag a few months behind their reading abilities. DORA’s Spelling subtest tries to capture the nuances of the different processes that children use to spell words by employing target words with increasing difficulty in different domains. In the process of creating the items for the DORA Spelling subtest, reading specialists created a list of recommended target spelling words by examining words commonly encountered in or taught at specific grade levels. The program stops administering words when a child consistently spells words incorrectly. Items from this subtest were chosen by reading specialists and classroom teachers to approximate the kinds of words children of a particular age would see in their classroom instruction.
Silent Reading Comprehension Subtest
The silent reading comprehension subtest forms the crux of DORA, which attempts to provide a window into the semantic domain of a learner’s reading abilities. The content of each silent reading passage is expository and written to reflect the subject areas that students of a particular grade level would encounter. In a variation on protocols for some informal reading inventories (Gillet & Temple, 1994; Leslie & Caldwell, 1994), children silently read passages of increasing difficulty and answer questions about each passage immediately after they read it. The questions for each passage are broken up into three factual questions, two inferential questions, and one contextual vocabulary question. The program stops administering passages and questions once a student misses a certain number of questions on a passage. It provides teachers with information about a child’s comprehension level.
Fluency is included as a teacher-administered measure. In this subtest, children read aloud short-leveled passages with increasing syntactic complexity. Teachers time children’s reading of these passages and record their errors and prosody from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Oral Reading Fluency Scale (1995).