In education, a universal diagnostic means an assessment that you can administer easily to all students in a particular grade level, group, or school in order to get diagnostic data to help inform instruction.  It is a modification of the universal screener used in the Response to Intervention (RtI) model of intervention.

For these two reasons, universal screening is outdated and should be evolved to universal diagnostics:

  1. Modern diagnostically designed assessments can provide data to inform instruction in about the same amount of time as a screener or summative assessment can be administered;
  2. Today’s classrooms are more academically challenging because the students are more diverse and the stakes are higher.  Students need more academic skills today in order to be financially independent.

Because of #2 above, traditional RtI models are often less effective.  When a school has only 40-50% proficiency in math, this means that 30-40% of the students are more than a year behind.  This means a traditional pull-out program cannot accommodate the number of students who need support.