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Best Practices in Universal Screening

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Best Practices in Universal Screening

Best Practices in Universal Screening

There is broad agreement that schools should implement early screening and intervention programs. State legislation generally favors the use of universal screening within schools across grades K-2, where students are screened annually to assess risk for dyslexia and other reading disabilities.

Schools should provide at least three levels of instructional support for students, based on their risk for poor overall reading proficiency:

  1. Core classroom instruction for students reading at or above grade level (i.e., low risk for reading problems).
  2. Moderate additional support for students reading somewhat below grade level expectations (i.e., moderate risk for reading problems).
  3. Intense additional support for students reading well below grade level expectations (i.e., high risk for reading problems).

When establishing a screening protocol consider...

  1. The scope of the assessment, the reliability and validity of scores, and the classification accuracy of the screener relative to the specified outcome.
  2. When and how the screening assessment(s) will be administered at frequent intervals.
  3. Who will be responsible for entering data into a database and printing reports immediately following each screening assessment.
  4. Holding primary grade level team meetings and upper grade cross-discipline team meetings after each school-wide screening to analyze the reports and determine placement and instructional grouping for each student.
  5. How parents/families will be engaged in the decision-making and kept updated on their child’s reading performance.

Suggested Citation

National Center on Improving Literacy (2019). Best practices in universal screening. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education Programs, National Center on Improving Literacy. Retrieved from


Petscher, Y., Fien, H., Stanley, C., Gearin, B., Gaab, N., Fletcher, J.M., & Johnson, E. (2019). Screening for Dyslexia. Retrieved from