Special Education

Minimum Requirements of a Response to Intervention Program (RtI)

II.  Screenings applied to all students in the class

A school district's process to determine if a student responds to scientific, research-based instruction shall include screenings applied to all students in the class to identify those students who are not making academic progress at expected rates.
[8NYCRR §100.2(ii)(1)(ii)]


Screening is an assessment procedure characterized by brief, efficient, repeatable testing of age-appropriate academic skills (e.g., identifying letters of the alphabet or reading a list of high frequency words) or behaviors.  Screenings are conducted for the purposes of initially identifying students who are “at-risk” for academic failure and who may require closer monitoring and/or further assessment.

Section 117.3 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education requires that students with low test scores be monitored periodically through screenings and on-going assessments of the student’s reading and mathematic abilities and skills. (see Appendix A).

Screenings of all students should be conducted three times per academic year (fall, winter, spring) to help ensure the early identification of students potentially at risk and the areas in which they may experience difficulty.

Screening instruments should be valid and reliable and aligned with grade-level curriculum based on the NYS learning standards.

For information about the technical adequacy of commonly used screening tools see http://www.rti4success.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1091&Itemid=139.

Using Screening Data

Using recognized and research-validated screening assessments and guided by the recommendations of the tools’ developers, the school district determines the levels of typical, at risk, and seriously at risk performance.  This information is used by teachers to determine which students need to be closely monitored for learning difficulties, including further individualized assessment to determine the need for supplemental instruction.

A standard procedure for using screening data to determine if a student responds to scientific, research-based instruction includes either establishing:

  • the cut points at which risk is determined (e.g., establishing risk identification of students who score below a norm-referenced cut-point (such as less than the 25th percentile on a standardized reading test) or
  • a pattern of performance (e.g., identifying students who score below a performance benchmark associated with poor long-term outcome (such as less than 15 on curriculum-based measurement (CBM) word identification fluency at the beginning of first grade).

The way screening results are used to identify a student in need of additional instruction or intervention may vary as a function of the model employed: direct route or progress monitoring route.  In a direct route model, students who are identified as at-risk from a screening assessment are provided with additional or supplemental intervention immediately.  In contrast, schools that use a progress monitoring route model, initially identify a student as at-risk based on results from a screening process and continue to progress monitor those students on a weekly basis for five or six weeks to confirm or disprove initial risk status.  Typically, schools that employ a progress monitoring route model will also differentiate instruction for those students identified as at-risk during core instruction while additional progress monitoring data are obtained. (Jenkins, J., & Johnson, E. 2008)

Suggested Procedures for Screenings Used During the RtI Process

  • Select a screening tool(s) relevant to the skills being tested and the age/grade level of the student being assessed based on the curriculum aligned with the State learning standards.
  • Establish a yearly, school-wide schedule for screening procedures to ensure that the screenings are completed consistently and reliably.
  • Provide school-wide training focusing on standardized administration of screening tool(s) and interpretation of results.
  • Identify students who fall below the established cut-point or benchmark.
  • Determine how to use screening results: direct route model versus progress monitoring route with or without differentiation in core instruction.
  • If using the progress monitoring route, confirm students’ risk status on school-wide screening by conducting at least five weeks of weekly monitoring of the student’s response to the core instructional program.  Consider evidence of poor rates of improvement after receiving appropriate instruction over five to eight weeks in core instruction as confirming the need for supplemental intervention.
  • Use grade level teams to review screening results to determine what changes or interventions are appropriate for the students identified.
  • Analyze screening data to determine the effectiveness of the core curriculum and instruction and the areas in which professional development may be needed.  Generally, if more than 20 percent of all students are not achieving or making adequate progress toward established benchmarks, this may be an indication that the school should evaluate its overall curriculum and instructional program.  If less than 20 percent of students are not making adequate progress, it may be assumed that the core program is adequate, and identification of students at risk is needed to provide additional interventions for those students.

Parent Participation

Parents of all students should be notified of school-wide screening results.  In addition, parents of students who are identified as at risk and who will be provided supplemental intervention must receive written notification, consistent with section 100.2(ii)(1)(vi) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education which includes the:

  • amount and nature of data that will be used to monitor a student’s progress;
  • strategies to increase the student’s rate of learning; and
  • parent’s right to refer the student for special education services.

Quality Indicators for School-Wide Screening
  • School-wide screenings occur at least three times during the course of an academic year (fall, winter, spring).
  • Screening instrument items are aligned with the curriculum based on the NYS learning standards for each grade level.
  • Each screening instrument meets reliability and validity standards associated with psychometrically sound measurements.
  • Professional development is provided to ensure fidelity of implementation, scoring and interpretation of results.
  • Screening is administered school-wide or at least to 95 percent of all students.
  • Cut-scores are established that identify students who are performing at benchmark, at-risk and seriously at-risk levels.
  • Results of screenings are used to determine which students are considered at-risk and need further monitoring and assessment.
  • Screening results are used to determine effectiveness of core curriculum and instruction.

Essential Task List for School-Wide Screening

Directions:  In the second column, write the name of the individual or team who will assume responsibility for the task identified in the first column.  In the third column, write the deadline for or status of the task.  Complete each task identified.

Task Responsible Individual/Team Timeline/Status
Select a  screening instrument or review existing screening tools to be certain that content  (test items) is aligned with the curriculum for each grade level.    
Secure human and materials resources needed for accurate and efficient administration.    
Determine initial and periodic professional development needs to ensure standardization and accurate administration of screening instruction.    
Administer the screening measure three times a year (e.g., early fall, mid-term, and late spring).    
Establish a database that stores student information and scores and allows for trend analysis.    
Organize the screening results (e.g., graphs and tables) to provide a profile of all students and their comparisons with each other.    
Monitor results at the classroom level and make decisions about when teachers/instructional programs require more scrutiny and support.    
Analyze screening results to identify students who fall below established cut-points and are considered at-risk.    
Establish procedures to continue progress monitoring at-risk students.    
Analyze results at the classroom level to determine strengths and possible weaknesses of core curriculum and instruction.    
Use screening results to support changes to core curriculum or instruction.    

Adapted and reprinted with permission from Mellard, D.F., & Johnson, E. (2008) RTI A Practitioner’s Guide to Implementing Response to Intervention.

Last Updated: November 9, 2010