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Reading and Math Diagnostics

MTSS Reading and Math Diagnostics

Once students have been identified as needing additional instructional support through screening, the next step within the MTSS process is diagnostic testing.  Diagnostic assessments are critical tools for education professionals, enabling them to identify students' academic strengths and pinpoint areas where they need more support.  Such assessments are integral to customizing the right intervention.

MTSS Process

Differentiating Diagnostics from Diagnosis:

Unlike diagnostic tests in fields like psychology or medicine, which may lead to a clinical diagnosis (e.g., ADHD), educational diagnostics don't lead to an actual diagnosis.  Hence, they might be more aptly described as tools or problem identification.  These tests assist teachers and other professionals in determining the precise academic hurdle a student is facing, thereby establishing a foundation for tailored instruction.  For instance, if a seventh-grade student struggles to convert fractions to decimals due to an inability to perform long division or understand the concept of decimals, a diagnostic test would reveal whether these foundational skills need to be strengthened before progressing.

Available iSTEEP Diagnostics

iSTEEP offers a suite of diagnostic evaluations known as iSkill assessments, each designed to measure specific skills.


iSkill Early Literacy Diagnostic

This assessment is tailored to gauge foundational reading abilities.  It is available in two versions:

Skills Included in the
Basic Form:

Onset Rime
Initial Sound Fluency
Deleting Initial Sounds
Nonsense Word Fluency
Sight Words
Sight Words

Skills Included in the
Advanced Form:

Consonant Digraphs and Blends
Vowel Teams and Diphthongs
R-Controlled Vowels
Common Irregular Words

iSkill Reading Fluency Assessment with the Testing Back Method

Students struggling to read fluently at their grade level typically face one of two issues.  The first possibility is a lack of fundamental early literacy skills, which hinders their reading speed.  The second is that while they possess the basic skills, they require further practice to enhance their reading fluency.  For students in the second grade and above, our recommended approach is the Testing Back method.  This process begins with an oral reading fluency assessment at the student's current grade level.  If the student does not meet the expected standards, the assessment is then administered at the next lower grade level.  This step-down approach continues until the student's fluent reading level is identified.  We advise starting reading fluency interventions at this identified level.  Should a student not demonstrate fluency at the second-grade level, an evaluation using early literacy diagnostics is suggested.

iSkill Math Assessment

Unlock Student Potential: Tailored to each grade level, this comprehensive test assesses essential skills and identifies areas where students are developing, mastering, or excelling.  Educators gain valuable insights to personalize learning and maximize student potential.

Match Diagnostic Results to Interventions Seamlessly, and......

Built In Progress Monitoring!

Simon is struggling to keep up in
grade level math.  


But where do we start with him?

Based on his diagnostic results, starting with his area of least fluency, Subtraction to 20 is his recommended starting point.  This allows you to build his confidence and skills in this area before moving on.  Consider using a fluency-building intervention, such as the iSTEEP Math Intervention program, to help him master this skill.

Right Skill, Right Time: Personalized Learning with iSTEEP

Know where students are in their learning, what skills they need to learn next, and what will be the most effective way to teach them.

Here's How it Works:

  • Identify Student Level within a Skills Ladder: Imagine a skill ladder, where each step builds upon the previous one.  The diagnostic identifies the exact rung the student is on.


  • Identify the Type of Intervention Needed with the Instructional Hierarchy: We assess each student's skill mastery level relative to the Instructional Hierarchy, a research-backed method that pairs the most effective teaching strategy with the student's proficiency level.  Instructional recommendations from the Instructional Hierarchy break into these three levels of skill mastery:


    • Acquisition: Learning the skill for the first time with guidance.
    • Fluency Building: Gaining practice and speed with the skill.
    • Generalization: Applying the skill in different contexts.

  • Matching Instruction: An extensive line of research on the instructional hierarchy (see Codding, VanDerHeyden, & Chehayeb 2023), shows the recommended strategies work whereas interventions that are contraindicated don't work.


iSTEEP results precisely match instruction to the student's level in the hierarchy.  For example, a student who knows multiplication but isn't very good at it would be identified as needing fluency-building instruction, which focuses on providing practice and feedback to improve speed and accuracy.




Teachers can focus on exactly what each student needs to learn, avoiding unnecessary repetition and maximizing learning gains.



The diagnostic suggests the most effective types of instruction (e.g., acquisition activities, fluency practice) for each student.



Every student gets the support they need to reach their full potential.

This simple and common-sense approach is backed by research, showing that students learn best when instruction is matched to their unique learning stage.  By taking the guesswork out of what to teach and how, iSTEEP helps educators to truly personalize learning for every student.

One Simple Solution

The math diagnostic assessment is part of an integrated three-stage approach, emphasizing consistency across all phases.

Stage 1: Diagnostics -  Diagnostic assessment in the initial stage, the assessment identifies the student's proficiency in 20 key skills, establishing a baseline for targeted intervention.

Stage 2: Tailored Intervention - Interventions are then customized to develop these same 20 skills.  The specificity of the intervention ensures that each skill identified in the diagnostic phase is addressed comprehensively.

Stage 3: Progress Monitoring - The process culminates with progress monitoring, utilizing an assessment that encompasses the identical 20 skills from the diagnostic assessment and the intervention phase. 


Streamlining for Success: Aligning Interventions and Progress for Faster Growth

Imagine: Interventions seamlessly aligned, progress monitoring tailored to each skill, and laser-focused instruction that targets student needs with precision.  This is the power of using identical skills across different stages of your program.

Why is this important?  By aligning interventions and progress monitoring to exactly match the skills being taught, you create a clear path for student success.  This laser focus ensures you're addressing the right areas, leading to faster, more noticeable progress for both you and your students.


The iSTEEP diagnostic goes beyond simply identifying what a student knows.  It also pinpoints what they need to learn next, ensuring precise and effective instruction.