Back-To-School Roadmap

Whether schools reopen in-person or remotely (or somewhere in between), use this guide to get started.


The blueprint for reopening school this year might look different from years past, but it doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. The MTSS best practices you had in place before COVID-19 are still the most effective way to identify gaps and address them quickly and thoroughly. As you review the following outline, we hope you’ll feel reaffirmed in your capabilities and in your FastBridge tools to make this a successful academic year.

Make sure to identify which universal core instructional materials and practices you will use this school year.
It is expected that more students will need to catch up on basic skills this fall than in prior years and the best way to help all students will be in the whole-class setting.

 

Plan your year-long screening schedule in advance.
Having a district assessment calendar that maps out all required assessments is important. With this in mind, district leaders can decide on dates for three screening periods: fall, winter and spring. Such dates can be built into the district’s master schedule each year. Here are recommended screening periods for August and September school start dates.

SCHOOL START FALL SCREENING WINTER SCREENING SPRING SCREENING
August 8/15 – 9/15 12/1 – 12/31 4/1 – 4/31
September 9/15 – 10/15 1/1 – 1/31 5/1 – 5/31

Wait at least two weeks before testing so students have time to acclimate to school. However, the adjustment period may not need to be so long if classes are conducted remotely.

Determine if you will have one or two fall screening periods.
FastBridge recommends that schools only conduct one screening period in the fall so that teaching can begin quickly. However, if you need to do a second screening for other purposes, the FastBridge system can accommodate that.

If you do conduct two screening periods, keep in mind:

  • The Group Growth Report will pull from the first screening period.
  • Students will need sufficient time to learn new skills, so be sure to space out the two screening periods. Otherwise, the data will indicate flat growth. (This is especially true for aReading and aMath.)

Watch our on-demand webinars about how to best conduct screening and progress monitoring remotely this fall.

Turn on FASTtrack Reading and Math
Consistency will be key this fall. That’s why we recommend using the same assessments you used before school closures as well as FASTtrack Reading and the new FASTtrack Math, our most efficient way to screen this fall.

*If you weren’t using FASTtrack Reading last year, turn it on this fall and use it in addition to your other screeners so you will have data to compare in winter/spring.

If you want access to the "Screening to Intervention" (s2i) report and you weren't previously using CBMreading, you should add this assessment to your queue. Doing so will ensure that you have the data, in addition to the other FASTtrack Reading and FASTtrack Math assessment data, to populate the s2i report.

Transitioning to Different FastBridge Assessments for Remote Testing
You might consider changing which FastBridge assessments to use for screening and progress monitoring if your schools are reopening remotely.

For example, if you previously used CBMreading or earlyReading but would prefer a computer-based assessment that students can take independently at home, consider using aReading instead.

Below is a table showing all of the FastBridge assessments according to administration format. Not all assessments are available for both screening and progress monitoring and users will need to confirm that the new assessment will work for the planned purpose.

  Computer-Administered Teacher
Reading aReading
AUTOreading
COMPefficiency (Lab)
CBMreading
earlyReading
Math aMath
CBMmath Automaticity
CBMmath Concepts and Applications
CBMmath Process
earlyMath
SEB devMilestones
Direct Behavior Rating (Lab)
mySAEBRS
SAEBRS
None

Address off-level testing with your staff.
Screening: Both FastBridge and best practices recommend that screening always be at grade level and never below level. This is because screening below level defeats the purpose of learning the student’s current performance as compared to grade level peers and expectations.

Progress Monitoring: This is where limited below-level testing might be used in certain cases. We recommend using the grade-level probes when possible, but if a student is so far below that using grade-level materials will not be sensitive to actual growth, a lower level can be used. This practice can be used for students participating in intensive intervention and those with IEPs.

Prepare schedules for screening days.
Beginning 6–8 weeks before each screening period, each school leadership team should create a plan detailing the exact days and times screening will occur in every grade level. Include dates for make-up screening and post-assessment data reviews.

Assign testing locations.
In that plan, detail how screening will take place in the event it has to be done remotely. Assign testing locations for students without reliable internet access at home.

Prepare all materials and devices in advance.
Make sure students and teachers have everything they need before testing begins. Grant everyone access to online assessments, and make sure every student has access to a working device and headphones for testing. Arrange for printing and copying any needed student materials in advance. These can be provided as “screening packets” to teachers and proctors, who can then distribute them to students.

Train your teachers.
It's always important to give teachers, and others who might conduct screenings, training or a refresher course on the FastBridge assessment system before each screening period. Make sure everyone has access to the system and knows how to use it.

Notify families.
Coordinate at the building-level who will be responsible for sending out communication to families. Send out a reminder via email or newsletter before the start of each screening period. This gives parents time to ask questions, helps them avoid planning events that might take students out of school, and can serve as a reminder to be mindful of bedtimes and preparing healthy breakfasts.

Prepare to use intensified Tier 1 core instruction with all students.
An important screening tool that will support your teachers in knowing what instruction students need is the FastBridge Screening to Intervention (s2i) Report, which will use students' scores from the FASTtrack Reading or FASTtrack Math screening assessments to generate a whole-class instruction plan.

These plans are designed to work with all curricula. They also link to downloadable instruction materials that can be used to augment core instruction materials in the whole-class setting.

All FastBridge users have access to free training courses within the platform under the "Training and Resources" tab.

Note: Certification is a free part of the FastBridge training program, but it is not a requirement for using the software.

Post the screening schedule.
Share the screening schedule with all staff so they know to be quiet and courteous for assessment takers. Create signs reminding everyone when assessments are being administered and post them outside testing locations. If testing is being done remotely, remind staff to avoid calls and emails during this time.

Identify a point person.
A thorough plan always accounts for technical, logistical or internet-related issues that might arise. Designate someone to be available during screening periods to answer questions and solve problems. This person also can distribute and collect assessment materials.

Conduct fall screening.


 

Review FastBridge benchmarks and norms.
Another common question is whether our benchmarks and norms will be adjusted to account for performance changes due to COVID-19 disruptions. FastBridge benchmarks and norms will not be altered because it is important to understand the impact of the disruption. The best way to understand the severity of the learning disruption is to compare it to a standard that was established before the disruption began.

You will most likely see more students with scores below benchmark. And you can also expect performance differences from past years. This means the focus will need to be on helping students make additional growth this year.

Refer to the section below on why you will likely see a difference between local and national norms, as well as reasons you may want to use local norms for resource allocation decision-making.

Schedule screening data review (DAT) meetings.
Universal DAT teams should look at data at the grade, school, and district level to answer system-level questions about intervention program effectiveness and to find ways to strengthen Tier 1 efforts.

We recommend scheduling your data review meetings before fall screening begins. Ideally, teams should meet a week after collecting student data to identify needs. Be prepared to discuss both core instruction and intensification needs, and Tier 2 supplemental small groups.

If resources are tight, consider using local norms.
National norms and benchmarks are typically used to guide the tiering process within a MTSS model. However, given resource constraints, FastBridge recommends using local norms to identify the bottom 30% of students who will need supplemental instruction.

Be sure to provide progress monitoring for students identified as needing supplemental instruction.

Use this Universal DAT Meeting Agenda and Form to get started. And revisit the “Reporting” section within the Knowledge Base for additional support on interpreting data.

Conduct fall screening for social-emotional and behavioral (SEB) concerns using SAEBRs and mySAEBRs.
Disruptions to routines and schedules caused by school closures left many students without much needed social-emotional support this spring. FastBridge recommends waiting six or more weeks before conducting SEB screening to allow students time to adjust to the classroom environment.

Be prepared to support your teachers in implementing core social and emotional instructional interventions for the entire class to ensure students are psychologically and emotionally able to learn

Get the SEBs before ABCs Playbook for ideas on how best to support your teachers and students.

Support teachers in using fall data to take action.
This year, you’ll likely be looking much closer at the data than ever before. We recommend that you dig deep into the report training courses available within the FastBridge "Training and Resources" tab so that specialists on your staff receive the proper training.

Consider registering for our virtual training opportunities to receive additional support this school year from FastBridge experts.


The blueprint for reopening school this year might look different from years past, but it doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. The MTSS best practices you had in place before COVID-19 are still the most effective way to identify gaps and address them quickly and thoroughly. As you review the following outline, we hope you’ll feel reaffirmed in your capabilities and in your FastBridge tools to make this a successful academic year.

Establish when your district will conduct fall screening.
You should be receiving this information from your district and school leaders. Note that establishing a sense of normalcy and routine for students will be crucial in making sure students test to the best of their ability.

Determine which assessments you will use.
Our recommendation is to use what you were using before school closures for consistency. Your school leaders should provide you with specifics.

Watch our on-demand webinars about how to best conduct screening and progress monitoring remotely this fall.

Seek out training on proctoring FastBridge assessments.
It’s always important to receive training or a refresher course on the FastBridge assessment system before each screening period if you will conduct screenings. Ask your principal for guidance, but know that all FastBridge users have access to free training courses within the platform under the “Training and Resources” tab.

Prepare to use intensified Tier 1 core instruction with all students.
Prepare as grade-level teams to coordinate universal core instruction to be as explicit and systematic as possible. It is expected that more students will need to catch up on basic skills this fall than in prior years and the best way to help all students will be in the whole-class setting.

An important screening tool that supports teachers in knowing what instruction students need is the FastBridge Screening to Intervention (s2i) Report. 

Following screening, the Screening to Intervention (s2i) Report will use students' scores from the FASTtrack Reading or FASTtrack Math screening assessments to generate a whole-class instruction plan.

These plans are designed to work with all curricula. They also link to downloadable instruction materials that can be used to augment core instruction materials in the whole-class setting.

 

Make your classroom situation predictable.
Help transition students back with consistent schedules, routines, rules, and feedback for positive behaviors. This predictability directly addresses the uneasiness that might be present in the minds of students after a very unpredictable time.

Download our free playbook, "SEBs before ABCs," for more tips on how to prepare students, mentally and emotionally, to learn after a spring and summer spent social distancing.

Create a Mental Health Awareness calendar.
A simple but effective strategy to help students adjust to the classroom is to create a calendar with specific actions that students can take each week to improve their social, mental, and emotional well-being. Activities should be relevant, rewarding, and age- or grade-level appropriate. If you run out of ideas, ask students to suggest activities to fill out your calendar.

Use our calendar template to get started. Plan the activities as often as your students need (i.e., once a week, three times a week, or even daily).

Notify families.
Coordinate at the building-level who will be responsible for sending out communication to families. Send out a reminder via email or newsletter before the start of each screening period. This gives parents time to ask questions, helps them avoid planning events that might take students out of school, and can serve as a reminder to be mindful of bedtimes and preparing healthy breakfasts.

You can access a free template by visiting the “Training and Resources” Tab within the FastBridge system. Go to “Downloads” and locate the parent letter template.

If you need to conduct fall screening remotely, we recommend distributing this troubleshooting document to all families in advance of the testing window

Conduct fall screening.

Keep the lines of communication open with families of students with IEPs and 504s.
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance to parents and schools on how to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. Make a plan for communicating these and other guidelines to families.

 

Distribute the Family Report after fall data have been collected.
Teachers can use the FastBridge Family Report to have constructive conversations with parents about their student’s reading and math performance, as well as answer the questions parents value most.

The Family Report companion piece helps parents understand how to use the new report and aids conversations between educators and family members.

Offer multiple modes of communication with learning activities for English Learners (ELs).
ELs may have had, and continue to have, limited or interrupted access to technology outside of school. This may stifle their ability to effectively express themselves. Be sure to include multiple ways to access information such as visual cues, and checks for understanding whether instruction is in school or online.

Download the companion piece

Included in the companion piece is the link to the Family Report webpage. This includes a glossary of important FAST terms, an FAQ, and an overview of the academic assessments specifically geared towards parents.

Use fall screening data to adjust core instruction.
Continue to prepare as grade-level teams to coordinate universal core instruction to be as explicit and systematic as possible. Consider if any supplemental instruction resources will be needed.

Establish first progress monitoring groups based on risk evaluation.
When creating your progress monitoring groups, you should ask, "What changes do I need to make in my core instruction in order to address student needs?" FastBridge recommends doubling down on areas of concern that existed before COVID, which is usually best done through core instruction.

You can use this Group Identification & Intervention Plan Form as a template to get started. Note that the s2i report automatically recommends the right intervention materials and also groups students by intervention or instructional need.

Set realistic but ambitious goals.
Setting student-specific progress monitoring goals is an essential component of an MTSS. But just as essential as goal-setting is setting goals that are at once ambitious and realistic. If goals are too ambitious, students are unlikely to succeed. If you set the bar too low, then students are not challenged to their full potential, impeding their progress.

Select a Rate of Improvement (ROI) goal that reflects an ambitious but attainable pace for growth.
Base your ROI upon those observed for similar students if growth norms are available. If not, use the following standards:

  • Student is at or near benchmark scores: Set ROI at or near the 50th percentile rank.
  • Student is below benchmark scores: Set ROI at or near the 80th percentile for observed growth.

 

Reminder: The Progress Monitoring report tracks an individual student’s ROI vs. desired (or goal-lined) ROI in an easy to use format. It also allows you to choose which percentile you would like to compare the students progress to if the 25 percentile is not the best measurement for understanding if more or different intervention is needed.

Administer universal behavior screening after six weeks.
In order to learn how well school-wide behavior instruction is working and how well students are adjusting to being back in the classroom, conduct universal behavior screenings. Use the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS) and mySAEBRS to identify students who are at-risk for a range of difficulties, including those related to the display of:

Examples: noncompliance, disruption, aggression
Examples: withdrawal, worry, sadness
Examples: cooperation, responsibility
Examples: preparedness for instruction, academic engagement, study skills

Teach pro-social skills to all students using PBIS or CHAMPS.
In recent years, an emerging body of research has shown that when schools teach pro-social behaviors as part of Tier 1 core instruction, student achievement improves and discipline problems decline. The National Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is a technical assistance center that offers many free resources that teachers and school teams can use to build and evaluate Tier 1 core behavior instruction. Such instruction begins with defining the expected positive behaviors in each school setting and then teaching them universally to all students through school-wide, classroom, and booster lessons.

We recommend waiting six weeks or more before administering these screeners.

If your district has two fall screening windows, wait for the second period.

Create academic plans that address where students are, not where they should be.
In what ways do you expect the fall data to be different than expected? Do you have more students with academic deficits than in years prior? If so, maximize outcomes from Tier 1 core instruction by subgrouping students who have significant differences in reading and math achievement. This is best done through grade-level teams or PLCs.

The "Screening to Intervention" (s2i) report for Reading and Math is perfectly suited to make this information visible to you as well as provide intervention and instruction recommendations.

The "Group Screening" report shows which students are “at-risk” based on benchmarks.

Evaluate intervention data.
How well are your progress monitoring groups working? Are students in Tier 2 or Tier 3 interventions on track to meet their goals?

For additional help, review the Knowledge Base reporting section for articles on how best to interpret and use FastBridge reports.

Use this Intervention DAT Meeting Agenda and Form to monitor student progress. Rinse and repeat every six weeks.