Dynamic Decoding Measures (DDM) Subtest

The simple view of reading and constituent strands of that model reveal the extent to which the measurement of word recognition entails the assessment of multiple skills. The Dynamic Decoding Measures (DDM) subtest assesses those key skills. The DDM measures 1) phonemic awareness, including phoneme segmentation, phoneme blending, first sounds, continuous phoneme blending, phoneme addition, phoneme deletion, and phoneme substitution, 2) orthographic mapping, which provides the measurement of temporarily and irregularly spelled words, letter sounds, and letter names, and 3) decoding, which provides information on a student’s ability to recode nonsense words with multiple syllable types and patterns.

The DDM subtests of the CUBED-3 have three major purposes: 

  1. Benchmark Screening. Applicable grade level DDM subtests are to be used for universal screening three times per year, which is common in multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS). For universal screening purposes, word recognition and decoding related measurement of all students within a district, school, or grade level should be assessed.
  2. Progress Monitoring. The subtests of the DDM were also designed to monitor students’ language growth over time. Progress monitoring helps educators detect whether adequate progress is being made, and to identify what type of instructional modifications are necessary.
  3. Intervention Planning. The DDM subtests can serve as a basis for intervention planning. The results can provide information on phonemic awareness, orthographic mapping, and decoding in a standardized, efficient, and valid manner.

The DDM offers a valid measure of word recognition

The CUBED-3 includes the Dynamic Decoding Measures (DDM) which assess word recognition-related skills. The DDM includes four subtests which use a ‘testing the limits’ dynamic assessment approach to identify a student’s current level of performance. This means that students are administered the more difficult or more mature targets first, and then subsequent targets are assessed until a student’s current level of performance is identified. This testing the limits dynamic assessment helps educators pinpoint where intervention should begin.

  • Administration and scoring of the DDM subtests can be done in real-time, either by hand, or via a digital device using the Insight system.
  • DDM Decoding forms are not grade-specific, yet guidelines for when to administer each subtest and target are provided in this manual.
  • The same DDM Decoding subtests and targets are used for benchmark screening and for progress monitoring.


Details of the DDM Subtests of the CUBED-3

DDM Decoding Inventory (DI) Subtest. The majority of English words can be written using six syllable-spelling conventions. Helping students understand that longer words can be divided into manageable, syllabic sections can help with decoding and spelling. It is also important to determine how well a student can recognize consistently used bound derivational and inflectional morphemes (affixes). The Decoding Inventory subtests of the CUBED-3 provides an examiner information on how well a student can (a) decode the syllable types, which are referred to as “targets”, (b) decode affixes, also referred to as “targets”, and (c) read whole words with those syllable types and affixes. There are 9 targets of the DI subtest: Syllables, Vowel-Consonant-E, Basic Affixes, Advanced Affixes, Vowel Teams, Vowel-R-Controlled, Complex Vowels, Advanced Word Forms, and Multisyllabic Words in Context.

DDM Orthographic Mapping (OM) subtest. Orthographic Mapping entails the rapid, automatized recognition of written words. The process requires the ability to automatically map a sound or a group of sounds onto a symbol or group of symbols from memory. Fluent, effective readers primarily use this process when reading. This subtest helps to identify a student’s instructional level and to measure the extent to which that student is progressing in his or her automatic recall of a selection of temporarily and permanently irregularly spelled words, letter sounds, or letter names. There are 3 targets in the Orthographic Mapping subtest: Irregular Words, Letter Sounds, and Letter Names.

DDM Phonemic Awareness (PA) and DDM Phoneme Manipulation (PM) Subtests. Phonemic awareness is foundational to the decoding process. It is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds, called phonemes, in words. If a student cannot recognize the different phonemes in a word, then that student will likely not be able to assign different phonemes to different letters to decode, and the inverse is true for spelling. There are dynamic assessments features embedded in the phonemic awareness subtests. First, these subtests use a ‘test the limits’ procedure to identify a student’s current instructional level, to examine how close a student is to demonstrating a more advanced level of phonemic awareness, and to measure the extent to which that student is progressing in his or her phonemic awareness. Second, there are instructional procedures used to help the student understand most of the phonemic awareness tasks, and the examiner can identify whether a student has particular difficulty learning the task that they will be asked to perform. There are four targets in the Phonemic Awareness subtest: Phoneme Segmentation, Phoneme Blending, First Sounds, and Continuous Phoneme Blending. There are 3 targets in the Phonemic Manipulation subtest: Phoneme Deletion, Phoneme Addition, and Phoneme Substitution.

Please note: the Dynamic Assessment of Decoding subtest is no longer part of the CUBED-3 Dynamic Decoding Measures. This subtest is part of the PEARL, and an advanced version will included in the soon-to-be published DYMOND.

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