Universal Screening Tools

What is a universal screening tool?

Universal screening tools are brief assessment measures administered to ALL students that help teachers identify those children who may benefit from additional interventions of support to maintain their academic progress.  Educators use a wide variety of methods or tools to evaluate, measure, and document the academic readiness, learning progress, skill acquisition, or educational needs of students.

Typically, universal screenings are administered three times a year (fall, winter, and spring) to ALL students. This allows teachers to monitor growth over time and focus on specific areas of need as they may arise.  The data generated from these screenings help inform the teacher’s instruction and identify the need for additional interventions to build a strong foundation for reading or mathematics.   

This information is important as an indicator of your child’s progress toward grade-level benchmarks, but it is just one measure of overall progress and performance.  It is important to note that universal screenings are not designed to be a measure for acceleration.  

What screening tools are used in my child’s school?

In Princeton, we currently use two screening tools at the elementary level: Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and Star Math. 

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)

DIBELS is a series of short tests that assess early childhood (K-6) literacy.  It is a set of procedures and measures for assessing the acquisition of K-6 literacy skills, such as phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. We use DIBELS to identify possible dyslexia in students.

Star Math

Star Math is a universal screening tool used as a first step in identifying students who are at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics.  It is a computer adaptive, multiple choice screening, meaning the questions will change in level of difficulty based on a student’s answer.  By adapting to how a student responds to one question, Star Math can narrow in on the         skills/concepts a student is ready to learn.  We use Star Math as an additional data point to assist in making instructional decisions for students.  

How do I learn more about DIBELS and Star Math?

You can direct questions to your school principal, your child’s teacher, or Math supervisor Joanne Krause at JoanneKrause@princetonk12.org, or Language Arts supervisor Mr. Reynold Forman at ReynoldForman@princetonk12.org