Fidelity of universal screening requires that a system is in place to assess the health of tier 1/core instruction for all students. Screening data is used to inform instructional practices and ultimately change predicted outcomes earlier rather than later, especially for the most vulnerable students.

In most schools, ALL students are screened a minimum of three times per year to assess whether differentiation is working to grow “all students” regardless of a student’s proficiency status. Screening instruments used are brief, have standardized administration and scoring rules, predict student performance on established benchmarks and are considered to be technically adequate. Screening data should be shared with stakeholders in a timely manner and maintained in a database that generates user-friendly reports.

Universal screening at the secondary level is equally important and should occur at a minimum of 3 times per year, if not quarterly for ALL students. At the secondary level, screening usually constitutes the collection and review of extant data that includes PVAAS projections, attendance, behavioral and courses performance data given that schools have years of it. The use of Early Warning Systems (EWS) is particularly critical if schools wish to “triage” student needs in the most effective and efficient manner and reserve resources for diagnostic assessment which will be needed for a subset of the population to determine root cause related to academic and broader engagement concerns. Pennsylvania has been promoting the adoption of early warning systems to prevent drop out and increase graduation rates.

Effective Screening Measures:

  • May be administered to an entire classroom/grade/school/district, using either individual or group format

  • Are aligned with grade level standards and used to inform instruction

  • Serve as an indicator that there is a potential problem that warrants a closer look at who and how many

  • Are time-efficient and cost effective

  • Administered, scored, and interpreted the same way

  • Exist and are appropriate Pre-K–12 grades

  • A sample of a skill at one point in time

  • Used pro-actively within a tiered system of support


“Universal Screening” Team Discussion Items

  1. Indicate the instrument that you use and how often it is used to conduct universal screening each year. If the instrument used is NOT listed on, reference established reliability and validity of the screening measure and describe how it matches expectations for learning in a specific grade level.

  2. Describe how adherence to standardization and scoring rules (of test administration) is monitored.

  3. Describe the process for establishing cut points to identify student needs that warrant provision of tier 2 and/or tier 3 services.

  4. Identify the timeline and meeting structure that is used to facilitate grade level analysis and goal setting relative to honing tier 1/core instruction after screening/benchmarking is conducted.



The Essential Components of RTI: Screening

How Can We Advance Our Screening Tools To Provide a More Accurate Measure of At-Risk Students?

IES/REL: Early Warning System Videos

IRIS Center



The National Center on Intensive Intervention has developed both academic and behavioral tools charts for screening and progress-monitoring consideration

... as well as helpful briefs related to screening and progress-monitoring for diverse learners.