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What is Screening?

Screening is a type of low-cost and easily administered assessment, testing age and grade-level critical skills or behaviors. It identifies high and low performing students who are at-risk of not progressing according to expectations or who are suspected of needing additional supplemental services. Screening is not a one time occurrence. Screening should occur throughout the school year and across grade levels. The number of times screening occurs may vary depending on the focus of the screening, but generally should occur at three points in time across a school year.

Why Is It Important?

  • Screening is important because it is used to identify students who might be in need of closer monitoring in the general education curriculum or who may need intervention. 
  • Screening represents the first gate or point of entry into subsequent tiers of Response to Intervention instruction. Screening is not a one-time occurrence, but a process that reoccurs at least three times throughout the school year and across grade levels.
  • The school uses the universal screening in the essential academic areas and for behavior to identify each student’s level of proficiency.
  • The screening results are organized to allow schools to compare both the group and individual student performance on specific skills. 
  • Screening can serve the purpose of identifying individuals in need of more diagnostic assessment and possible supplemental intervention. Students who may not have been identified on the first screening may be identified at later screenings. 
  • Screening can provide feedback about total class performance to assist the school leadership in identifying when a teacher might need support. That is, when screening results show evidence that the majority of the class, rather than a few students, is performing below expectation, this indicates a need to look further at the instructional practice or curriculum being used for the whole class.

What Would Schools Consider?

  • Universal screening procedures require close collaboration among all staff-general education and specialists. Screening will need to become a part of the school calendar. Resources and materials necessary to administer screening will need to be available. 
  • Schools will need to create a standard procedure to identify students who are at risk, based on specific reference points. Reference points will inform the process of selection.

Examples of Screening Tools

  1. Analysis of Individual Reading Processing Instruments-
  2. Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening- Measures kindergarten students’ literacy development. It takes approximately 30-45 minutes. A summed score is obtained which can be used to compare to benchmarks. Available at
  1. Texas Primary Reading Inventory- Intended to be used by teachers to identify children at risk for reading. It is designed to hold false negatives at a minimum. Available at
  1. Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) – This tool was developed to monitor progress and inform instruction.  It is standardized and readily available (free) at

Curriculum Based Measurement Tools
AIMSweb (
AIMSweb Pro Complete consists of Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) testing materials and web-based software to provide schools with a 3 Tier Progress Monitoring and Response to Intervention System. AIMSweb Pro Complete includes the following assessments:

  • Reading-CBM - Oral Reading Fluency
  • Reading-CBM - Spanish Oral Reading Fluency
  • Maze-CBM - Reading Comprehension
  • TEL-CBM - Test of Early Literacy
  • MIDE-CBM - Spanish Early Literacy
  • Spelling-CBM - Spelling
  • Written Expression-CBM - Writing
  • TEN-CBM - Test of Early Numeracy
  • Mathematics Computation-CBM - Math Computation/Math Facts

AIMSweb Pro Complete also provides data management and reporting for the following 3rd party assessments:

  • IGDI
  • Get it Got it Go!
  • Monitoring Basic Skills Progress (MBSP)

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills(DIBELS)
The DIBELS measures were specifically designed to assess 3 of the 5 Big Ideas of early literacy: Phonological Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, and Fluency with Connected Text ( Big Ideas in Beginning Reading The measures are linked to one another, both psychometrically and theoretically, and have been found to be predictive of later reading proficiency.

Measures of Phonological Awareness:

  • Initial Sounds Fluency (ISF): Assesses a child's skill to identify and produce the initial sound of a given word (for a longer description and to learn how to administer and score the ISF measure click here).
  • Phonemic Segmentation Fluency (PSF): Assesses a child's skill to produce the individual sounds within a given word ( for a longer description and to learn how to administer and score the PSF measure, clink on this link).

Measure of Alphabetic Principle:

  • Nonsense Word Fluency (NWF): Assesses a child's knowledge of letter-sound correspondences as well their ability to blend letters together to form unfamiliar "nonsense" (e.g., fik, lig, etc.) words (click here for a longer description and to learn how to administer and score the NWF measure).

Measure of Fluency with Connected Text:

  • Oral Reading Fluency (ORF): Assesses a child's skill of reading connected text in grade-level material word ( for a longer description and to learn how to administer and score the ORF measure, click on the link above).

These measures link together to form an assessment system of early literacy development depicted in the following figure that allows educators to readily and reliably determine student progress.






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North Dakota Department of Public Instruction
Kirsten Baesler, State Superintendent
600 E. Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 201
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0440

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