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New Year Reminders: Preparing for the 2017-2018 School Year

By: Nicole M. McKevett, MA, NCSP

For many educators, summer is a time to relax, rejuvenate and get caught up on many things that fell to the wayside during the hectic school year. Summer can be both an exciting and relaxing time for many educators, and is well deserved. However, during this time many educators also take the time to plan for the coming school year, by completing lesson plans, cleaning and organizing classrooms, and setting up materials for their new class. Part of this planning may also include preparing your district, school, or classroom for the fall universal benchmark screening period. Below are some items for all educators to consider and plan for, as they work toward preparing for the 2017-2018 school year.

  1. Plan for Screening Periods

The first things that FastBridge District Managers and/or School Managers will want to consider are the logistics involved in Fall, Winter, and Spring screening. This should be done in consultation with the building leadership team. This section will include what, when, where, and how each screening period will occur.

What: If your district’s screening assessments will change next year you will need to revise the selected assessments. To do this, log into the FastBridge website with a district manager account and:

  • Select “Assessment Info” from the left navigation pane
  • Select “Add New Assessments”
  • Update the selected assessments

When: Setting up screening schedules within a busy school day can be a challenging task, so it will require some forethought. Planning for screening throughout the entire school year from the beginning is a good idea, as it will give teachers an opportunity to plan their pacing of instruction to accommodate the Winter and Spring screening periods. You will want to consider the following while determining when the screening periods will take place:

  • How many assessments students will take at each screening period
  • How long each assessment typically takes
  • If the assessment needs to be administered one-on-one or can be done in a group setting
  • How many students will need to complete the screening

Some suggested screening windows, based on August and September school start dates include (Brown-Chidsey & Bickford, 2016):

Fall Winter Spring
August September August September August September
August 15th – September 15th September 15th – October 15th December 1st – December 31st January 1st – January 31st April 1st
April 31st
May 1st
May 31st

If your district’s screening dates need to be changed, the District Manager should log in to the FastBridge website and adjust the dates. To do this, District Managers will:

  • Select “Edit Screening Periods.”
  • Select the school you are setting the screening period for.

  • Change the date for each assessment by clicking on the pencil on the right, or
  • Change the date for all assessments at once by entering the dates in the top row and checking “Change period for all groups.”

Where: Because many of the FastBridge Learning measures are administered using a computer or iPad, educators will need to consider if students will take the screening measures in the computer lab or in the classroom with laptops. Some measures are administered one-on-one with an educator, so if these measures are to be administered, select quiet locations, free of distractions, for this to occur. Additionally, if measures are administered with paper and pencil (i.e. earlyMath Place Value), arrangements should be made to administer these in a group in the classroom.

How: All educators who will administer screening measures should complete the training modules and certification quizzes available on the FastBridge website. District and School Managers can review who has passed the certification quizzes for each measure. Experienced teachers should complete the training modules for any new measures that are being added to the screening schedule. New teachers should complete the training modules for all measures that are to be administered throughout the year, as well as the Navigation, Screening, and Progress Monitoring training modules.

  1. Update Staff and Student Rosters

Before the school year begins, District and School Managers will want to make sure that both staff and student rosters are up-to-date. Starting with the staff roster, ensures that accounts for teachers who have retired or left the district are disabled. If teachers have moved to a different school in the district, be sure that they are assigned to the correct school in the staff roster for the coming year. Next, District Managers will want to upload student rosters. Having this set ahead of the school year will ensure that teachers are prepared to administer the screening measure right away and are not delayed by not having all students in the class rosters. To do this, District Managers can select “Student Info” from the left navigation pane, and then select “Upload Student Roster.” If a user needs to be granted District Manager access, the current Master Account Administrator (MAA) must send a written request to the FastBridge Learning School Support Team at help@fastbridge.org.

  1. Setup Student Login Accounts

If you plan to administer assessments where students will log in (i.e. aReading, aMath, AUTOreading, etc.) both student access and login accounts will need to be set up. To complete this step, a specialist or school manager will need to complete the following steps.

Student Access. This step involves selecting the assessments that students can use.

  • Select “Student Info” from the left navigation pane.
  • Select “Manage Student Access.”
  • Select either “Select All” or the specific school desired.
  • Click on the pencil icon for all schools or a specific school.
  • In the pop up window, select the assessment(s) and start and end dates.
  • Adding start and end times and an IP address are optional
  • Click on “Save Access.”

The assessments that will be available to the student in the selected school(s) will be made available on the selected dates.

Student Passwords. This step sets up passwords for students to use in order to log in and take the assessments.

  • Select “Student Info” from the left navigation pane.
  • Select “Manage Student Passwords.”
  • Select the school, grade, and staff for whom you want to update login information.
  • Passwords can be modified by selecting the pencil icon in the far right of the row.
  • After passwords are set, select “Generate Passwords in PDF.” This will create a PDF that can be downloaded and printed with each student name, login id, and password.

  1. Plan to Attend Training Webinars

This school year there will be several training webinars available through the FastBridge website for teachers, specialists, and school and district managers. These webinars will start mid-August 2017. Look for a schedule of these training webinars to be posted soon! Add these webinars to your calendar and plan to attend as well as provide encouragement for all staff members who will be administering screening or progress monitoring measures throughout the school year to attend.

Conclusion

Screening is an essential part of an MTSS and an important component of effective instruction. It gives educators timely information about their students and serves as an important tool for designing instruction. By planning screening ahead of time, and ensuring that the logistical steps of the FastBridge system are in place, educators can go into the school year with peace of mind. The risk of wasted time during testing will be lessened, and more time will be spent with instruction. We are sure that this will be a positive school year for many. Know that we are here and available to help with this preparation process. Do not hesitate to contact us at FastBridge Learning if you have questions about setting up your district, school, or classroom for the fall screening. We are here for you!

References:

Brown-Chidsey, R. & Bickford, E. (2016). Practical handbook of multi-tiered systems of support: Building academic and behavioral success in schools. New York: Guilford Press.

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