Analyzing Your RtI: Universal Screening

Aug 29, 2016

After realizing our RtI model wasn't really working for us or our students, the teachers in my building decided to analyze the different components of our RtI model.  This blog series will go in depth with how we scrutinized each of the following parts of the model:
An overview
High Quality Instruction
Universal Screening
Research Based  Interventions
Continuous Progress Monitoring
RtI meetings
Professional Development

The RtI Action Network has a great definition of for universal screening.  Basically, they say that the purpose of these screenings (within the RtI model) is to determine the students that are in need of additional academic support.  The assessments are given to all students and help a school to identify their "at-risk" students.

Universal screeners vary per school district and maybe even per grade level within a school.  But they are typically the first step.  As we worked to analyze our RtI, we had to take a close look at our screeners and what they were telling us...or not telling us.

Currently, my K-2 building uses Aimweb as a universal screener.  This is a decision made at the district level. This assessment provides us with a quick one minute look at the following literacy components: 
  • phoneme segmentation
  • letter names
  • letters sounds
  • nonsense words
  • fluency
  • maze completion
We also decided that, as a building, we wanted to use the DRAs to provide us with a reading level, strategies, comprehension, and general knowledge about each student as a reader. 

What we found was that these universal screeners gave us a starting point but did not provide us with the information that we needed to actually start intervening with our Tier II students. For example: if a student showed that they were having difficulty with phoneme segmentation, it is not clear as to where to start on the phonological awareness stair step because Aimsweb only looks at this one component. We needed to dig a bit deeper.

 We created a flow chart for each grade K-2 for what we would do if a student fell below proficient on the universal screeners.  Here is an example of our first grade chart:

flow chart of pre-assessments
 Once the universal screeners are complete and the data is in, we can use the flow chart to determine exactly what diagnostic assessments we need to give to our Tier II and Tier III students.  Our hope is that we are getting to the root of their achievement gap.  It can be easy to fall into a "one size fits all" model that does not reach the true gap that keeps the student from reaching their full potential.

But then came the next challenge: ensuring that we had diagnostic screeners for each of these smaller components.  And we didn't.  So we went searching.

Phonological Awareness Diagnostic:
I love the phonological awareness assessment in this book.  It covers all the parts of the continuum:
  • rhyming identification
  • rhyming utilization
  • alliteration identifcation
  • alliteration utilization
  • sentence segmentation
  • syllabication
  • onsets
  • rimes
  • blending task
  • phoneme segmentation
  • phoneme deletion
  • phoneme substitution
This assessment provides me with a great starting point.  I know exactly where to start my interventions for phonological awareness.

Phonics Diagnostic:
Aimsweb gives me a good starting point.  It tells me if they can quickly tell me letter names or letter sounds in one minute.  But if they cannot do this, it does not tell me exactly what letters and sounds they do not know.  It also does not tell me if they can read digraphs, vowel teams, or words endings.  This is necessary information for me to have, if they need a phonics intervention.

The University of Texas has a Quick Phonics Screener (QPS) that they put out.  I like the way that it is set up because I can pinpoint what phonics skills a student has mastered and where to begin our interventions.  My teammate and I reworked it and typed it up to match our exact needs.  But here is a snapshot of what part of it looks like:
Aimsweb gives us a pretty good picture of whether a student has fluency or not.  It is a quick snapshot.  But if the phonological awareness and phonics prove to not be a problem, then we really do not need to give an additional fluency assessment.

This one is a bit more involved because there are different components to comprehension.  It is important to pin point where the gap is for each particular student.  Is it retelling, literal questioning, inferential questioning, or evaluative questioning that the student is struggling with?  The DRA or a similar tool is helpful for determining this. We also found a quick assessment on Neuhaus website.  

Once the assessments are complete and the needs are determined, it is time to look at an appropriate intervention to match the need.


1 comment:

  1. You've taken on a huge challenge here. Well done. We use Aimsweb too, although this year we're moving to Aimsweb +. My frustration has been very much the same as yours though. The information I get from these benchmarks doesn't tell me what's broken. It just tells me something isn't working right.


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