Universal Screening is an assessment process typically completed in the fall, winter (for K-5 only), and spring of each school year. Students are given quick, accurate indicators of reading and math success to determine which students are “at risk” for not meeting grade level standards. The students whose assessment scores fall below a certain cut score, or benchmark, are identified as needing additional academic interventions.
An example in the area of reading is as follows: A strong indicator of reading success is taking a one-minute sample of oral reading fluency and determining the number of correct words read per minute and the number of errors. This type of assessment is known as reading curriculum based measurement, or R-CBM. R-CBM is reading wellness check. Information from MAP testing also is used to assess student progress and growth in basic reading and math skills.
Grade level and department level teams examine Screening data in relation to core instruction and form and modify small instructional groups by using decision rules, which are standardized criteria that assist staff in making important educational decisions. This allows teams to consistently determine level of needs and set goals for tier 1, as well as tier 2 and tier 3 groups.
Teams determine first whether or not instruction at Tier 1 is meeting the needs of the majority of students. If the majority of students’ needs are not being met within Tier 1, changes and/or improvements in core curriculum and instruction should occur immediately. Then, students in need of additional group level Tier 2 or Tier 3 supports are identified. These students are grouped based on common academic and/or behavioral needs and their needs are matched to appropriate interventions. These interventions can begin immediately. Because this process is part of general education, there is no legal requirement for formal parental consent. However, it is critical that parents be informed and involved in the process.