Tuesday, September 12, 2023

As you spent the summer preparing for your students, we at the Iowa Reading Research Center were preparing for you! Recently, we put the finishing touches on two new teacher resources related to the FastBridge screener that we are excited to share with you. While administering universal screeners might not be your favorite part of teaching, we hope that, with our new FastBridge eLearning module and Instructional Recommendations Tool, you will find universal screening data to be invaluable. After all, it can provide you with insightful student-level and system-level information. These tools were developed in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education with the goal of providing guidance on interpreting students’ FastBridge scores and using assessment data to inform instruction.

FastBridge eLearning Module

You may or may not have already completed the fall testing window, but either way, our FastBridge eLearning module is a great place to familiarize or reacquaint yourself with the earlyReading and CBMreading screeners at any point in the year. Additionally, the module will walk you through the process of using the instructional sorts described in the Iowa Department of Education’s Supplemental and Intensive Tiers Guide. These sorts can help you identify trends of instructional needs within your classroom in addition to individual student needs. Knowing these trends will save teachers time when using the instructional recommendations tool.

Instructional Recommendations Tool

The instructional recommendations tool was built for the purpose of offering K-6 teachers support when making instructional decisions based on students’ FastBridge data. This tool provides guidance on how to interpret students’ earlyReading and CBMreading scores and offers recommendations for instruction. Additional resources such as video tutorials, diagnostic assessments, rubrics, activities, and articles are also provided.

The main purpose of this tool is to provide instructional recommendations for individual students who scored below the benchmark on a screener or subtest, but it will also serve as a way to identify trends in your classroom. When using the tool, the first pieces of data you are asked to enter are the number of students who met the benchmark and the total number of students in the class for the purpose of calculating the percentage of the class that met the benchmark. If 60% of students or fewer met the benchmark, an alert will appear, leading you to resources for a classwide intervention. This alert is meant to bring awareness to the fact that the data suggest there are students who need support to learn specific grade-level skill(s) that they should have already mastered through Tier 1 instruction. Please consider, though, that some researchers suggest that Tier 1 instruction should result in at least 80% of your students achieving grade-level expectations, and if the percentage is less than that, you may want to consider looking at the elements of an effective Tier 1: 1.) time for instruction, 2.) instructional routines and materials, 3.) grouping for instructional skill match; and 4.) flexible service delivery (Stollar, 2023).

After receiving the classwide percentage, you will then be able to enter individual student data for each of the subtests. Recommendations for next steps and resources are generated based on the respective scores. If you’ve used the instructional sort introduced in the eLearning module, you won’t have to enter data for every student. For students with similar scores, the same recommendations would apply. (If you choose not to use the instructional sort, you will need to enter the scores of every student for whom you want recommendations.) Once recommendations are generated, you may proceed as you see fit to meet the individual needs of your students, which may include running diagnostic assessments to identify students’ specific skill gaps.

The FastBridge eLearning module and the instructional recommendations tool are intended to provide additional support as you make instructional decisions based on student data. These recommendations and resources are not exhaustive or comprehensive, nor do they replace valuable collaboration within teams in your school district and with your local AEA Literacy Consultant; in fact, these recommendations and resources should be topics of conversation within your team as you work to support all students.

We hope you find these resources helpful and informative and that they take the guesswork (and legwork) out of how to respond to FastBridge data, while also helping to identify trends that may lead to improving the effectiveness of your first line of prevention against reading failureTier 1 reading instruction. 


Stollar, S. (2023, July 21). Universal Instruction is Risk Reduction [Keynote address]. Iowa Science of Reading Summit, Iowa City, IA.