10 Tips for a USNS Implementation

  • March 6, 2024
  • Blog

usns implementation

As you begin to look to the fall to support your RtI/MTSS efforts to strengthen math instruction in your district, here are ten tips to help leaders prepare for and support a 2024-25 USNS implementation.

1) Set the vision for the Universal Screeners for Number Sense (USNS) implementation

Everyone needs to know the purposes for administering the Screeners. This needs to be communicated early and often. Even if this is your 3rd or 4th year of implementation, the reasons for using the USNS should be communicated to all involved, including teachers, interventionists, principals, and parents.

2) Get everyone involved

The most valuable information comes from listening to the students, not the final score. For this reason, whenever possible, the teacher who works most directly with the student should be the one who administers the assessments. Rather than having specialists, interventionists, para-educators or others give the assessments, consider having them support in classrooms. This can free up the teacher to give the assessments.

3) Plan for learning

High quality professional learning opportunities are critical for a successful USNS implementation. How and when will teachers learn (and share what they have learned) about the administration, scoring, and use of the USNS? At a minimum, provide time for teachers to read the assessments, discuss, and ask questions. Additionally, practice scoring the interviews to develop inter-rater reliability in scoring. You may have video interview resources in place, or check out this 8-minute video, in which we include a variety of K-5 sample interviews that can be helpful for teachers to begin discussing administration and scoring. (Note that we share a library of sample interviews in our USNS Essentials PD opportunity.)

4) Practice administering a couple assessments

Administer some assessments yourself. This will help you to lead the conversations. Videotaping some interviews is very helpful. This will provide you with an opportunity to reflect and improve your own practice, while providing you with videos for leading professional development.

5) Set Clear, Reasonable Expectations

Establish and communicate assessment windows at the beginning of the year.  Keep the assessments reasonably wide so that teachers can pace themselves, doing one or two each day.  At the same time, schedule times for when teachers will discuss and plan around the results, so they know they will be using those results with their teammates.

6) Identify school-based leaders

Who is the point person to help coordinate, communicate, and support the USNS administration at each school? Will these be the same people who lead the learning?  Find your champions and build a team.  Have them learn first to be able to lead others.

7) Provide materials

Make sure teachers have what they need, including printed materials and counters. Note that the USNS administration guide includes all the paper supports you require, but teachers will also need to furnish basic manipulatives for interviews.

8) Provide time for planning and preparation

It is important to provide teachers with time to coordinate, plan, read, and prepare. Ideally, teachers can also practice for the administration of the assessments. When teachers have the time to collaborate and share plans with one another, interviews and written administrations of the USNS assessments go more smoothly.

9) Review results

Once the results have been collected, take time to share insights from what people learned. Having the data as one touchpoint is excellent, but sharing stories, talking about the ways that students solved problems, and the interesting mistakes they made is just as significant. Identify students who might be in need of additional assessment. Most importantly, talk about how to respond and plan next steps for instruction.

10) Provide tools

Provide data tools to make data collection easy and enable teachers to get the full use of the information. Forefront® provides not only a tool for collecting and visualizing the data to immediately make it meaningful and accessible, Forefront also automatically generates personalized family letters, and suggestions for next steps for instruction. Want to explore the solution created by the lead author of the USNS project? Explore a quick, 3-minute demo or connect with us for a conversation and personalized demo.


About the author:

David Woodward is an educator with more than 25 years of experience as a classroom teacher and district leader in math education. He founded Forefront Education to help educators better understand and report student learning with meaningful assessment data. David is also the leader of the Universal Screeners for Number Sense project. Read more.

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Join over 9,000 schools using the Universal Screeners for Number Sense (USNS) assessments and download your free copy of the USNS assessment guide today.

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