Universal Screener

Screening for Success!

Universal screening in reading and math is providing FCPS with information about strengths and needs in students’ foundational skills, or the building blocks for reading and math success. Gaps in foundational skills are the root of many later learning difficulties; early detection and intervention in these gaps can help students reach their potential.

Basics about the Universal Screener

The universal screener provides an initial view of all students’ foundational skills to help teachers identify students who may have challenges in reading or mathematics.

The reading assessment evaluates each student’s skills in five areas:

  • phonological awareness
  • phonics
  • high frequency words
  • vocabulary
  • comprehension

The math assessment evaluates each student’s skills in four areas:

  • number and operations
  • algebra and algebraic thinking
  • measurement and data
  • geometry

All students from kindergarten through sixth grades are assessed three times a year in fall, winter, and spring. In addition, students may participate in shorter assessments monthly to monitor their growth. These assessments are online and adaptive, meaning that the difficulty of the items adjust depending upon each student’s performance.

The universal screener was successfully piloted in 2016/2017 prior to division-wide roll out.

A video has been created to explain the rationale for the Universal Screener and describe its positive impact in pilot schools this year.

Results of Universal Screener

Students earn an overall score in reading and in math. Scores are also available at a more detailed level for both of these subjects. Parent reports with assessment information will be available after screening.

The screener is one source of data to be considered with other assessment and classroom observations in order to identify gaps in reading and math skills. Teachers can use these results to plan instruction or intervention in these skills.

Many variables can impact a student’s performance. Teachers do have the ability to retest a student if they feel the results are not consistent with their observations and other assessment data. The scores of students who rush through their tests will be flagged and may require retesting as well, if these results are not consistent with teachers’ observations and other assessment data.

Next Steps After Screening

The screener provides a first look at areas in which students may need extra support. Teachers will collect additional information as needed using in-person assessments, such as the Developmental Reading Assessment, 2nd edition (DRA2). Taken together, these results will help teachers plan targeted instruction or intervention in areas of need.