Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education

Submission Type



Early identification of students in need of additional support in the classroom is an important structure for school districts to have in place. Universal screening for social-emotional and behavioral (SEB) risk is one method that schools can use to identify students in need of SEB support and to begin early intervention programing. Unfortunately, recommendations about universal screening and resources for universal screening for SEB risk are limited. As a result, barriers to screening are increased and interventions are delayed – sometimes indefinitely -- for those who need them most. This paper discusses the barriers and challenges experienced by elementary schools (grades K-5) in one school district in the South across a three-year consultative study. This district was supported by the researchers in identifying an appropriate SEB screener, in disseminating the screener, and in ensuring accuracy in its completion. Across the three years, data were evaluated from previous years, and recommendations to improve the district’s screening initiative were made by the lead consultant and school psychology graduate students. Over time, positive changes were noted in screening practices, but it is evident that more work needs to be done. Specific solutions and future implications for early childhood are discussed.