• Universal Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Needs - An Overview for Students, Parents, & Families

    What is Universal Screening for Behavioral and Emotional Needs?

    Universal Screening is a SCASD initiative that aims to identify and support students who may be experiencing behavioral or emotional challenges that could become obstacles to learning and positive school experiences at State College Area School District. Screening is conducted via a non-mandatory self-reporting survey in which students rate their personal experiences at school on a confidential Likert scale questionnaire once in the fall semester and once in the spring semester.

    Why is Universal Screening being introduced at State College?

    In 2015, 2017 and 2019 SCASD students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12 completed an anonymous survey called the Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS). PAYS is funded and promoted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to gather information about students' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that may pose a risk to students' well-being. The PAYS report from 2021 can be found here: 2021 PAYS Report 

    The findings in this report indicated that a high number of State College students reported being at elevated risk for anxiety, depression, low self-efficacy, and suicidal ideation. In response to these findings, the SCASD School Board and administration sparked an initiative to address the increasing concern for the well-being of SCASD students. Universal screening is an effort that the district believes may proactively address student distress related to school experiences and hopefully prevent student self-harm or problematic distress at school.

    What is the content of the Universal Screening survey?

    The Universal Screening survey consists of 30 self-reporting questions related to students' self-perceived behavioral and emotional strengths and weaknesses. The questions used in this survey are all directly drawn from the BASC-3 Behavioral and Emotional Screening System, an empirically supported measurement tool used widely by school psychologists and other adolescent development professionals. An extensive amount of research has been conducted over many years to ensure the validity and reliability of this tool. 

    More information on the screening tool and the BASC-3 can be found here: Screening Tool: BASC-3
    A list of the questions included in the survey can be found here:  Student Questions

    Who will be participating in Universal Screening?

    All grades will participate in Universal Screening: 4-12 grade student self screening and K-5th grade teacher completion. Students are not required to participate in the self-screening. Parents and guardians will be provided with an opportunity to opt to have their students excused from the self-screening in advance of the implementation.


    What will you do with the results?  

    After completing the survey, the results are divided into levels of risk (normal risk, elevated risk, and extremely elevated risk). The results are one indicator of concern used in determining if school support is needed, such as Tier 2 and/or Tier 3 supports. These tiers align with the Multi Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model already being used by SCASD for academic skills.  


    BESS Score Interpretation

    Below is a description of the BESS index scores, which are based on norms for students similar in age to your child.. Please know, scores can fall into one of three categories of risk: Normal Risk (green), Elevated Risk (yellow), Very Elevated Risk (red).



    Behavioral & Emotional Risk Index (BERI)

    The BERI score can be elevated due to general behavioral and emotional dysfunction or due to dysfunction in a specific area, such as one of the subindexes.

    Internalizing Risk Index (IRI)

    The IRI score can be elevated due to social stress, anxiety, depression, atypicality, locus of control.

    Self-Regulation Index (SRI)

    The SRI school can be elevated due to Hyperactivity, attention problems

    Personal Adjustment Index (PRI)

    The PAI score can be elevated due to interpersonal relationships, relationships with parents, self-esteem, self-reliance.


    Who will have access to the results of the screening?

    School counselors, school psychologists and administrators will have access to the results. Teachers are provided with the results for their students during meetings to review the results and discuss appropriate support for students. Parents/Guardians will have access to the results of the student information management system on ParentVue. 


    Will the results of the screening be kept in students' permanent academic files?

    No. The information gathered through this process will not be part of any student's academic records. All data related to universal screening is confidential in nature and will never be shared with outside parties (i.e. prospective post-secondary schools).

Last Modified on December 14, 2023