Drumcondra Tests of Early Literacy (DTEL)

The DTEL is a screening and a diagnostic test suitable for use with pupils at the end of Senior Infants and the beginning of First Class who are experiencing some difficulty in ‎learning to read.  The DTEL-Screening (DTEL-S) and the DTEL-Diagnostic (DTEL-D) draw on international best practice in early reading ‎assessment to provide tests suitable for the Irish context. The tests complement a teacher’s observations and assessments of a child’s performance and increase understanding of particular difficulties.  They provide information on young children’s literacy difficulties so that instruction can be improved. The tests are designed to be visually appealing to the target age group.  Click here for a preview of test layout.

The DTEL-S is designed to identify pupils who may be at risk of reading difficulties so that, if needed, further diagnostic assessment and targeted instruction can be implemented. It is divided into four parts and assesses two aspects of reading: word recognition and comprehension. The test can be administered to small groups of children (10 or fewer) and takes approximately 40 minutes to administer.

The DTEL-D is recommended for use with children who have attained low scores on the DTEL-S. The purpose of the DTEL-D is to identify specific reading and reading-related skills with which children may be experiencing difficulties. It is individually administered, takes approximately 45 minutes, and is divided into three parts: Phonological Awareness, Phonological Working Memory, and Knowledge of Letters and Letter Sounds.

Over 3,000 Senior Infants and First class pupils completed one or both of the DTEL-S and DTEL-D during the development of test norms in 2007.  In addition, over 1,000 of these pupils took part in a follow-up ‘validation study’ in 2008. The validation study found that performance on the DTEL-S was a good predictor of later performance on the Drumcondra Primary Reading Test – Revised at the end of First class.

As well as information on test administration and technical information about test development, the manual includes two chapters about reading. The first provides a summary of recent research on reading development, while the second provides advice on helping at-risk beginning readers.