Balanced Assessment

Continuous review and assessment of student progress within an RtI system involves a balanced, systematic process of constant inquiry that uses multiple measures and means to determine:

  • The current skill level of a student or group of students
  • How students are responding to core curriculum and instruction
  • How students are responding to interventions or additional challenges

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has developed a series of questions that teachers and administrators can use to build an RtI system around high-quality instruction:

  • What learning comes next for individual students?
  • How are students progressing?
  • How well is this program working?
  • How do students compare on a state, district or school level?

No single test score can determine a student’s experience at any phase of an RtI system. Rather, multiple types of data should be gathered and the evidence should be considered as whole. Staff and family input should also be sought in making decisions about the kinds and rigor of the data collected (e.g. teacher observation, family interview, benchmark assessment scores progress monitoring data) and should be considered as part of understanding the whole picture of a student’s performance.

Within the RtI Balanced Assessment system, there are three types of assessment that may be implemented, depending on individual district, school, classroom or student need:

RtI Balanced Assessment Model

See this full chart on the Department of Public Instruction's website.

In seeking broad experience and expertise in choosing and implementing assessment procedures, schools will be better equipped to enact universally designed and culturally responsive practices that reflect the identity, community, sense of belonging and relevance of the group of students and families served. Within an RtI system, universal screening and progress monitoring play a critical role in determining how best to respond to student need. 

RtI Roadmap

For more information on balanced assessment, visit the
Department of Public Instruction's website.

Universal Screening

Universal screening is a process in which data from multiple measures is analyzed to determine whether each student is likely to meet, exceed or fall below benchmarks. It can be constructed for both academic and behavioral purposes.

A screener is an assessment given as one part of the screening process to establish a baseline from which students are beginning and to align the instructional starting point to student need. Screeners are typically a form of data collection designed to be easy, quick and repeatable. Again, no single piece of data should determine a student’s experience within an RtI system; multiple types of data should be collected to assist in a complete universal screening process.

Data from the universal screening process are used to make decisions about interventions, additional challenges and to determine if a change in universal curriculum and instruction is needed. 

Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring is a process used to measure, assess and/or evaluate one or more of the following:

  • A student’s academic and behavioral performance
  • A student’s improvement or responsiveness to instruction
  • The effectiveness of instruction
  • A student’s response to specific interventions or additional challenges

Progress monitoring can be formal (quantifiable, norm-referenced tools) or informal (teacher-developed formative tools) and can be implemented with individual students or an entire class. Rate of progress should be determined from the progress monitoring assessments. The frequency of progress monitoring will increase with the intensity of an intervention or additional challenge. Like universal screening, progress monitoring is a process, and thus, data should include multiple pieces of evidence with a focus on individual student improvement as well as small group improvement.