level. The results of universal screening are likely to parallel those differences. Universal screening will be beneficial, however, if it identifies schools, classrooms, and individual teachers and children who need additional supports and provides effective interventions. Otherwise, the same problems with disproportionate representation in special education will accompany universal screening efforts. Furthermore, universal screening may uncover children with learning disabilities, particularly girls, who are presently underidentified.

Many of the children who are referred to special education exhibit reading problems, behavior problems, or both (Bussing et al., 1998). In both these areas, screening tools are available that would allow for early identification of children at risk for later problems, and existing intervention strategies hold promise for improving outcomes for those identified.

Early Screening and Intervention in Reading

There are a number of working models for screening all children in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade for reading problems. Examples include the Observation Survey developed in New Zealand (Clay, 1993), the South Brunswick, New Jersey, Early Literacy Portfolio (Salinger and Chittenden, 1994), the Primary Language Record (Barr et al., 1988), the Work Sampling System (Meisels, 1996-1997), and the Phonological Awareness and Literacy Screening developed at the University of Virginia (see Foorman et al., 2001, for summaries of all of these programs). Most are attempts to engage teachers in collecting evidence on which to base curricular decisions about individual children. Some of these are more standardized, formal assessments that have attempted to address important psychometric issues such as test reliability and validity; others are more informal. Some have been implemented on a large-scale basis.

Perhaps the most fully researched and implemented model for universal screening is that currently being used in Texas. Beginning in 1998-1999, all school districts in Texas were required by law to administer an early diagnostic reading instrument for K-2. Although the specific assessment instrument was not mandated, the Texas Education Agency contracted for the development of the Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI). This instrument (described in more detail in Box 8-1) was designed to be used on a large scale, to bring psychometric rigor to informal assessment, and to be aligned with state curriculum standards. By the 2000-2001 school year, over 90 percent of Texas’s 1,000 school districts had adopted the TPRI and its Spanish reconstruction, known as the Tejas Lee.

The TPRI consists of two parts, beginning with a screening instrument, which is administered to each child in grades K-2. Phonological awareness

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