Since earning her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst in 2002, Judy Loughlin has made a career as a consultant to districts and schools seeking to improve students’ literacy outcomes. Her resume includes working with IDEAL Consulting, the Hill Institute, the Connecticut and Massachusetts Departments of Education, and countless schools and districts across New England. She also has served as an adjunct instructor in the UMass Amherst College of Education and worked as a teacher and school psychologist.
It was during her time practicing school psychology and visiting schools seeking to address their high rates of special education referrals that something became strikingly clear to her. The degree to which educators needed to focus on prevention and early intervention for students struggling with reading was critical to everything else that needed to take place to improve their schools. And so launched a career-long interest in schoolwide reading improvement.
As the school year comes to an end, it is a good time to reflect on student learning outcomes. In addition to reviewing individual student progress, educators can examine how well all students did over the school year.
Universal screening has become a common practice in many schools. This screening involves having all of the students in each grade complete the same assessment. Traditional approaches to universal screening have typically included conducting the assessments three times a year, in the fall, winter and spring. However, research about screening indicates that perhaps it is not necessary to screen all students three times a year, and less frequent screenings can provide enough data about student performance to guide instruction.
This blog will review the purposes of universal screening, explore recent research findings and provide suggestions for alternative screening schedules. A primary focus will be on how to use spring screening data to group students for fall instruction so that those students needing interventions can access them at the very beginning of the new school year.