As the name implies, these are screenings of academic achievement
that are administered universally. That is, to all students, not just
those suspected of struggling. Using universal screenings, school
teams can determine early on which students, school-wide, may be
at-risk for falling behind their peers. These students can then be
monitored more closely by their instructors and can begin receiving
specialized interventions at the first indication that they may need
extra academic and/or behavioral support.
Since all students are screened in an RtI framework, school teams are able to identify at-risk students early on, based on the screening results (as opposed to delaying identification until after some students have already failed to achieve in the classroom). Because the screenings are universal, RtI is generally not considered a special education initiative, but a framework for effectively instructing all students.