Early Literacy Assessments

Preschool Universal Screening & Progress Monitoring

Built upon a solid foundation of research conducted at the University of Minnesota, the second edition of Individual Growth & Development Indicators of Early Literacy utilize a data-based approach to screening that has shown to provide a new level of effectiveness in evaluating young children on their way towards becoming successful readers.

Early Reading Measures

  • Picture Naming (Oral Language)
  • Rhyming (Phonological Awareness)
  • Sound Identification (Alphabet Knowledge)
  • 'Which One Doesn't Belong?' (Comprehension)
  • Alliteration (Phonological Awareness)


The Early Literacy IGDIs were recently revised at the University of Minnesota. Through a rigorous process, the new assessments were constructed using Item Response Theory – a modern approach to test design. As opposed to Classical Test Theory, Item Response Theory assumes an “ability” that is invariant in characteristics across individuals and time. In short, the revised literacy measures offer a highly precise method of locating an individual on an ability-based scale aligned with important instructional decisions.

As part of a multi-tiered model in early childhood, the Early Literacy IGDIs were developed to inform decisions about whether children are demonstrating adequate levels of performance given the general level of instruction (Tier 1), or if their performance indicates a need for more intense levels of instruction (Tier 2 or Tier 3).

Additional improvements include:

  • All-new comprehension & alphabet knowledge measures
  • Completely revised picture naming, rhyming & alliteration measures
  • Quicker, easier and more reliable
  • Designed for seasonal screening & use within an RtI model
  • Improved item functionality


(1-yr before K)


Early Reading


Universal Screening & Progress Monitoring*


Fall | Winter | Spring

Quick & Easy to Administer

Administration takes about 10 minutes per child and can be delivered with minimal training.

Psychometrically Sound

Backed by over a decade of research, IGDIs have been shown valid, reliable, and sensitive to growth over time.

Designed for MTSS & RtI

Well suited for general education, special education & english language learners.

Screening & Progress Monitoring on iPads

Based on the most current research, myIGDIs now offers assessment modules for screening all students in a classroom on early language and literacy skills and also allows for more intensive progress monitoring for those students who do not meet seasonal screening benchmarks. Everything you need to engage your students in high quality screening and progress monitoring assessments is right within the application.

  • Cutting-edge assessment technology - No more managing forms, timers, protocols or manuals! Powered by computer adaptive technology (CAT), a modern approach to assessment, allows you to automatically locate a child on an ability scale aligned with academic outcomes.
  • Streamlined data-based decision making - No more waiting to review data! Produce student results immediately after the assessment and view on-demand reports directly from your iPad.
  • Improved precision and reliability - Data you can trust! CAT technology reduces traditional standard error estimates by employing items scaled in a Rasch model where reliability and SEM are unique to each ability level, rather than uniform across the entire test.

Also available in Spanish!

IGDIs-Español are a set of new, evidence-based early literacy screening measures designed for use with Spanish-English bilingual students in the pre-Kindergarten year. IGDIs-Español are different from other measures of Spanish early literacy in that they are NOT translations of English measures. Instead, they are designed to capture how Spanish develops as a construct complementary to English. It’s important that SE-DLL children are assessed in both languages.

Spanish Measures

  • Primeros Sonidos / First Sounds (Phonological Awareness)
  • Identificacion de los sonidos / Sound ID (Alphabet Knowledge)
  • Identificacion de las letras / Letter Identification (Alphabet Knowledge)
  • Denominacion de los Dibujos / Picture Naming (Oral Language)
  • Verbos Expressivos / Expressive Verbs (Oral Language)

Administrator must be fluent in Spanish. Currently available in print format only.


Recent research demonstrates that Spanish-English bilingual students have the capacity for cross-linguistic transfer. That is, the knowledge and information they have acquired in learning their first language (Spanish) can serve to support the acquisition of the second, which in United States classrooms, is primarily English. As research has explored the role of Spanish in early literacy performance, we have learned that Spanish develops in a complementary, but different developmental trajectory than English. Because of these reasons it is important to assess Spanish early literacy knowledge, but also to use tools that examine how Spanish develops independent of English, rather than simply using a tool that has been translated from English to Spanish.

Specific attention was devoted to the design of these Spanish early literacy measures across a series of variables including: best practices in interacting with Spanish-English bilinguals (SEB); linguistic differences between native and secondary languages, cultural influences that may contribute to student responses, functional representation of the target skill as manifested in the native language (Spanish), and scaling and psychometric analysis of Spanish early literacy performance.


Scott McConnell, PhD

Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Scott McConnell is professor of educational psychology and Fesler-Lampert Chair in Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He was the 2008 recipient of the Mary A. McEvoy Service to the Field Award from the Division for Early Childhood. Over the past 15 years, McConnell and his research colleagues have developed and investigated the use of Individual Growth and Development Indicators, which are general outcome measures of language, literacy and other developmental domains for preschool children. This work has been licensed to Early Learning Labs, Inc., a Minnesota start-up company. Other recent projects include leading the Minnesota site for the Center for Response to Intervention in Early Childhood; helping design and conduct internal evaluation for the Northside Achievement Zone, a place-based comprehensive intervention to promote college readiness; and exploring home- and community-based interventions to promote language, literacy and social-emotional development. He is particularly interested in the design, evaluation and implementation of general outcome measures of young children’s development for use in Response to Intervention (RTI) and other intervention models in school and community.

See full bio>

Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, PhD

Research Associate at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Alisha Wackerle-Hollman is a research associate with CEED at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Wackerle-Hollman coordinated the Center for Response to Intervention in Early Childhood and is principal investigator for the Spanish Individual Growth and Development Indicators (S‑IGDIs). Dr. Wackerle-Hollman has contributed to IGDI development since 2005, and currently works on the research and development of screening measures for Spanish-speaking children progress monitoring measure development for English- and Spanish-speaking children, and technology-based assessment and planning resources.

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Tracy Bradfield, PhD

Former Research Associate at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Tracy Bradfield Roloff is currently the results strategist for the Northside Achievement Zone and a former research associate with the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota. While at the university, she held responsibility for project coordination and management of activities of the Center for Response to Intervention in Early Childhood, including research activities to support ongoing development of Individual Growth and Development Indicator (IGDI) measures and development of a decision-making framework to support score interpretation.

Michael Rodriguez, PhD

Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Michael Rodriguez is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota and holds the Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development with a focus on understanding and reducing the achievement gap. Dr. Rodriguez’s research focuses on understanding the psychometric properties of tests. This work has included research on the effects of item formats and the use of constructed-response versus multiple-choice items.  Rodriguez serves on the Assessment Certification Advisory Panel for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards and is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University of Minnesota.

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Lillian Duran, PhD

Assistant Professor at the Utah State University 

Dr. Lillian Durán has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences at The University of Oregon. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Antioch College and a M.A. in Education and Human Development from the George Washington University. Her research is focused on improving instructional and assessment practices with preschool-aged dual language learners (DLLs). Dr. Durán has presented and consulted nationally on the topic of recommended and evidence-based practices in assessment and instruction with young DLLs. Prior to Dr. Durán’s work in higher education she worked for 9 years as an early childhood special education teacher both in Prince George’s County, Maryland and in rural south central Minnesota.

Technical Information

English Edition

Version: 2nd Edition
Year Published: 2013
Research & Development: University of Minnesota
Intended for children, ages: 4-5 years old (attending preschool in the year before kindergarten)
Primary uses: Universal Screening & Progress Monitoring* (*only on iPad app)
Language(s): English
Norms/Benchmarks: Yes

Download Technical Information Summary (pdf)

Spanish Edition

Version: 1st Edition
Year Published: 2015
Research & Development: University of Minnesota & Utah State University
Intended for children, ages: 4-5 years old (attending preschool in the year before kindergarten)
Primary uses: Universal Screening (Fall | Winter | Spring)
Language(s): Spanish
Norms/Benchmarks: Yes

Funding Sources

Title I

Title I is the largest source of federal education funding, providing over $14 billion to schools with high numbers or percentages of children living in poverty.

How can the funds be used?
The Title I grant is for additional learning opportunities to help low-achieving children meet benchmarks in core subjects. This includes reading & math instruction, school improvement programs, targeted assistance, and preschool.

Title III

Title III provides over $700 million in funds intended to help schools supplement their language instruction programs so students can gain proficiency in speaking, listening to, reading, and writing English.

How can the funds be used?
Used for high-quality instructional resources (professional development & curriculum and supplemental programs) to increase the academic achievement and English-language proficiency.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides funding for specially designed instruction for students with disabilities and the monitoring of their progress.

How can the funds be used?
Resources that will help provide free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities. IDEA funds are used to provide early intervention, special education, and related services, including assistive technology. 15% of the funds can be used to implement a response to intervention (RTI) program, which provides supplemental instruction to assist students before they are given an individualized education plan (IEP).

Head Start

The Head Start program provides high-quality, comprehensive early education programming to low-income children and families so that children start school ready to succeed.

How can the funds be used?
Head Start provides prekindergarten programs for children living in poverty. Administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start has a special focus on helping preschoolers develop early reading and math skills.