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As part of our ongoing approach to addressing and supporting the needs of our students, we will be implementing a social-emotional screener, the Behavior and Emotional Screening System (BESS), for the first time this school year. Similar to our approach in identifying the academic strengths and needs of our students through screening tools like Star, the BESS will serve as our social-emotional and behavioral screener.

The BESS provides a brief snapshot of a child’s behavioral and emotional functioning, allowing us to quickly identify those who might be in need of additional support. For students in grades PreK-5, the classroom teacher will be completing the teacher form; for students in grades 6-12, the students will complete the student form. The BESS provides a comprehensive overview of social-emotional strengths and needs, and at an individual level, it can help identify factors that may be interfering with a student’s academic or social success. 

What is the BESS?

The Behavioral and Emotional Screening System (BESS) is a school-wide, universal screener.  The term “screener” means that this is a preliminary step for identifying, from all students, those who may be at risk of future difficulty in school.  The BESS screens a wide array of behaviors that help to identify strengths and areas of concern including internalizing, externalizing, and school behaviors as well as adaptive skills and can assist in identifying any areas that may be interfering with a student’s academic or social success. The BESS is meant to provide a snapshot; it is not meant to serve as the only reference for a student’s social-emotional and behavioral functioning or needs.

The BESS is not considered a comprehensive diagnostic assessment. Rather, it is a tool that can be used to determine a child’s risk level for developing emotional and/or behavioral problems that require intervention.

What is the purpose of the BESS?
The BESS provides schools with a reliable, quick, and systematic way to determine behavioral and emotional strengths and challenges of children and adolescents in preschool through high school (ages 3-18).  Using the BESS assists us in better understanding our students’ needs on a Tier 1, universal level, as well as what behavioral, emotional, or social skills small groups and/or individual students may be struggling with and need additional support through intervention.

How often is the BESS administered?

It is recommended that the BESS be administered two times per school year.  District 158 will be screening students in the fall and early spring.  This allows us to evaluate any changes in student needs while allowing time for adjustments or changes to student supports as needed.  

What types of questions are on the BESS?

Huntley 158 is currently utilizing the BESS teacher form and student form as part of our screening process.  For students in grades PreK-5, the BESS teacher form is completed by the student’s classroom teacher(s).  Students in grades 6-12 will complete the BESS student form which serves as a self-reporting tool.  The teacher and student forms provide sentence prompts with the following choices: Never, Sometimes, Often, Almost Always.

Teacher Forms:

  • Consists of 20 prompts.
  • Takes 5 minutes or less to complete for each student.
  • Example Prompts:
    • Worries
    • Is good at getting people to work together
    • Is easily upset

Student Forms:

  • Consists of 28 prompts. 
  • On average, the form takes students 10-15 minutes to complete.
  • For students in grades 6-8, the student form is completed during Advisory.
  • For students in grades 9-12, the student form is completed during P.E./Health
  • Example prompts:
    • I worry but I don’t know why.
    • I am good at making decisions.
    • I have trouble paying attention to the teacher.
What information is provided to the District from the BESS screener?
The screener questions are based on years of data analysis and are normed. The BESS provides information regarding how a student is performing compared to peers of the same age in that particular area.  It can be used to determine a child’s risk level for developing emotional and/or behavioral problems that require intervention.  Risk levels include Normal, Elevated, and Extremely Elevated.  

How will the BESS results be used?
Data from the BESS is reviewed over the course of the next several weeks by teachers and teams. Although the BESS data serves as an important piece of information about our students’ social-emotional and behavioral needs, we also consider other sources of information to help determine if a student is in need of additional support including attendance, academic data, and information shared by the teacher and parent(s). If it is determined a student is in need of additional support/intervention, this could take the form of instruction in the classroom using SEL lessons targeting a particular skills/area, or it could be a more formalized social-emotional and behavioral intervention such as Check-in/Check-out, SAIG, Mentoring, etc. 

Who has access to the BESS screening information?
The BESS screener is completed electronically and information is housed within the Review360 platform.  Teachers have access only to their students’ screening information.  Building administration and other specific student services team members such as MTSS facilitators, school psychologists, and social workers will have access to building-level data as well.

How long is this information stored?
Information is stored within Review360 for the duration of the student’s time in District 158.  Keeping information over time allows us to determine if there are any changes in student needs allowing us the opportunity to better support them through instruction, and if necessary, intervention.

How can I access my student(s)' BESS results?

If your child participated in this initial screening, their results are now available through OTUS.  OTUS is the platform we utilize to store student’s diagnostic and screener assessment information.  Once you are logged into the OTUS portal, parents will have access to some of your child(s)’ longitudinal and current academic data such as AimsWeb (K-5 screener for early literacy and math skills), STAR (K-11 adaptive screener for math and reading), and NWEA MAP (assessment used for K-11 math and reading prior to STAR).  These assessments are utilized to help teachers adapt instruction to your child’s needs.  The Huntley 158 assessment schedule is located here. If you have any questions regarding the district’s assessment schedule, please contact the Huntley 158 Curriculum Department.

In order to help interpret your student’s screening results, we have included an overview of the information that you will see when accessing this information in OTUS, below.  Please follow the instructions outlined in this video or follow these step by step instructions to log in to the OTUS platform and view your student’s information.     

When referencing your student’s BESS information in the OTUS platform, you will see their Behavioral and Emotional Risk Index (BERI) T-score which serves as the overall score based on the responses provided by your student’s teacher or by the student who completed the screener. This score is grouped into one of three categories: 

  • Normal (60 or below)
  • Elevated (61 to 70)
  • Extremely Elevated (71 or higher)

Your student(s)’ score is associated with the amount of “risk” they have of developing a behavioral or emotional problem. When a student’s BERI T-score places them in the normal range, this indicates that they do not require additional supports from their building. When a student’s score places them in the elevated or extremely elevated category, this indicates that the student may need additional support and/or intervention, which will prompt your student’s building to address these needs through the appropriate channel.

Can I still opt my child out of screening? If they have already screened, can this data be deleted/expunged?
Yes, you can opt your student out of BESS screening this school year by completing this form.  If your student already participated in the first screening and you would like to opt them out of screening for the spring, please submit the form. Those who have already opted-out will be opted-out again for the spring screening unless the parent(s)/guardian(s) notify the student’s building administrator otherwise; they do not need to complete the form again.  BESS data can be purged from the Review360 platform, and it is permanently deleted.

We are excited to begin implementing this screener across the district in order to better serve our students. We will be completing the BESS two times this school year with the first screening period occurring September 26 – October 14, 2022. Information regarding your child’s BESS results will be shared with you after our screening period. The BESS will be administered again during our spring window for grades PreK-12.  As a parent or guardian, you may be contacted about a variety of school and/or community supports available to assist your child. 

Please reach out to Kat Romero ([email protected]) or one of your student’s building administrators with any questions.

If you would like to opt your student out of the BESS screening process, please complete this Opt Out form for EACH student.