Student Assessment - Universal Screening

In regards to implementing RTI at the secondary level, how do you address the issue of universal screening?

Response from Evelyn Johnson, Ed.D.:

First, it will be important to determine the outcome you are trying to predict. At the elementary school level, screening is conducted to determine who is at-risk for poor academic outcomes, especially in reading and math. At the secondary level, we typically know which students are struggling academically – those who have a history of low performance and/or those who require additional support to achieve minimal requirements. Therefore, it may help to conceptualize successful high school graduation as the outcome of interest for RTI at the secondary levels.


Focusing on the outcome of successful high school completion requires selecting (or developing) screening instruments that measure factors that are highly predictive of high school completion. There is ample research to suggest that some of the best predictors of high school drop outs are: a) attendance in the first 30 days of the "transition" years of middle and high school (e.g. 6th and 9th grades); b) being "on track" with credit/course completion at the end of 9th grade; and c) successful completion of core courses such as english and math. The National High School Center provides numerous resources and publications to assist secondary schools with the implementation of a screening system that targets these areas – it is called the "Early Warning System" tool.


Additionally, schools will want to consider the use of performance benchmarks on measures of reading, math and writing to provide more information on the particular areas of concern. The Research Institute on Progress Monitoring (RIPM) has several resources for progress monitoring tools for secondary students. Other available instruments include assessments such as the NWEA’s Measures of Academic Performance (MAP), AIMSweb measures in reading, writing, and math, or district level assessments.


Obtaining screening information on a variety of measures (that includes academics and engagement) can help schools develop and provide more comprehensive, and ultimately, more effective interventions to support their students.

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