Behavioral & Emotional Screening System

Universal Screening

  • City Schools of Decatur is committed to creating a culture of student support that addresses the needs of the whole child. One way we are supporting the whole child is by identifying student strengths and areas for growth relative to social, emotional, and behavioral well-being. In our continuing efforts to support all students, the District will be piloting an administration of a universal screener. 

    The Behavior Assessment for Children 3rd edition Behavior and Emotional Screening System (BASC-3 BESS) is a universal screener that is research-based (valid and reliable), easy to administer (completed online by students), and short (avg time 15 min). The results will help our schools to understand the needs of all students, and guide them to make effective plans to support students at the school, class, and individual levels.

    This pilot screener will be administered to students in grades 3, 6, and 9 during the Spring semester February 27 – March 3, 2023. March 6th and 7th are scheduled make-up days for students who may have missed the original administration date. The screening window will be closed to all students by the end of the school day on March 7th.


    Why is the BESS Administered?

    • Helps to identify children that may need support that schools may not otherwise know about.

    • Identifies students who may not know how to or choose not to advocate for themselves.

    • Identifies students whose academic and behavioral success masks social/emotional struggles.

    • Creates an evidenced-based pathway for students to receive additional supports.

    • Provides information to help school personnel focus their effort/time on students with the highest needs.

    • Provides information to help individual schools make “big picture” programming decisions and see large-scale trends across the district.


    Who will take the BESS

    Students in grades 3, 6 and 9 will take the self-report version of the BESS in order to universally screen for at-risk social emotional challenges. Students that report overall scores that fall within the Extremely Elevated Risk range (explained below) will be screened further by their teacher. This second level of screening will help to connect students to individualized supports to increase early intervention.

    How are scores interpreted?

    The BESS is an individualized rating scale that, when scored, gives T-Scores. These T-Scores are explained below: 

    • Normal Risk: 60 or lower

    • Elevated Risk: 61-70

    • Extremely Elevated Risk: 71 or higher

    Student results are assigned an Behavioral and Emotional Response Index T-Score  (BERI T Score) that indicates how far their score is from the average ratings of other children their age. The average BERI T score for the BESS is 50. Along with the BERI score the BESS also measures the following sub areas to help inform interventions or needs of the child. 

    Screener Index Explanations

    • BERI – Behavioral and Emotional Risk Index (Overall Risk)

      • ERI- External Risk Index (Hyperactivity, Aggression, Conduct) (Teacher Report)

      • IRI – Internal Risk Index (Anxiety, Depression)

      • SRI – Self Regulation Risk Index (Self-Control)

      • PRI – Personal Adjustment Risk Index (Interpersonal, Relationships, Self-Esteem)

    What are your next steps?

    No action is required if you agree with your student’s participation in the screening. If you would prefer that your student NOT participate in the pilot universal screening, please complete the opt-out form by clicking here or by visiting the District’s MTSS Website: The deadline to opt your child out of completing the BESS is Thursday, February 23, 2023.

    If you would like more information, have any questions regarding the screener or screening process, or would like to inspect the screener, please plan to attend one of the following Virtual Parent Information Sessions and submit Q & A questions here:

    • Monday February, 6, 2023

      • 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

    • Wednesday, February 8, 2023

      • 9:00 am - 9:30 am

      • 12:00 pm - 12:30 pm

      • 4:30 pm - 5:00 pm