Universal screening is a single test of all students used for multiple grade levels. Age-appropriate skills is determined by National and State Standards. Questions provided must be research-based and tested over time. Universal screening allows schools to not only capture a benchmark skill level but also to make informative decisions over time.
What does all this mean? How can schools use this valuable information from the universal screener?
1) Information derived from repeated testing would prove the validity of the core curriculum instruction. A common school model is the “multi-tiered model”, also referred as RtI – Response to Intervention. The RtI model is specific on steps needed to be taken before students move from one tier to the next. Typically, 80% of all students will show adequate progress, working at grade level and improving. Universal Screening will separate these two groups (80% and 20%). FREE Informational Webinar: Foundations of Response to Intervention (RTI).
2) The other 20% are divided (differently among schools) between the tiers. Interventions are needed for these students who are not making the expected gains. An intervention is providing the student the same instruction in a different way (i.e. small groups, individual attention, computer/software attention). See Special Education Software, Reading Intervention Software, and Math Intervention Software.
It is important to understand the difference between skill deficits and performance deficits. Skill deficits indicate deficiencies in the students’ academics. The student does not have the skills required to work through the problem. Performance deficits are entirely different. A students low score might not be due to deficient skills but just a lack of desire to try. These students have the academic skills required to solve the problems correctly but just lack the desire to do so. Another universal screening, a different form of testing, is necessary to properly evaluate the academic skill level of the student.
At its most simple purpose, Universal Screening allows for true differentiated instruction. Today, educators want to know exactly the student’s Placement level so they receive the instruction they need. With technology, it is now possible to have curriculum instruction automatically prescribed to the student based on the universal screening. Providing the right content at the right time is every educator’s goal.
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