What is a Behavioral Universal Screener? 

It is a tool used to help identify students who are at risk of future academic, behavioral, or emotional difficulties. Just like some students benefit from additional academic support and interventions, we know some students would benefit from additional support to strengthen their behavioral, social, and emotional skills. 

What is the universal screener being used?

The screener being used is the Behavior Intervention Monitoring Assessment System, or BIMAS-2™. It assesses behavior concerns and social-emotional wellness. It is not a diagnostic tool. It asks students who are ages 12 to 18, to self-report their behaviors and emotions over the most recent 7 days. 

One of the co-authors, Jim L. McDougal, is an associate professor at SUNY Oswego and former Mental Health Educator in the Syracuse City School District.

How will the tool be administered?

Students will complete a one-page questionnaire that takes approximately five minutes to complete. At the middle schools, they will do this during a homeroom period and, at the high school, they will do it at the beginning of an English class period.

Why is Fayetteville-Manlius using the BIMAS-2™ screener?

This screener can help us identify students who are at risk of academic, behavioral, or emotional difficulties and provide additional support to strengthen these skills. The tool also allows us to monitor and track students’ behavioral health over time, looking for any changes that could be a concern.

The data generated will also help us determine district and school-wide programs, interventions, and training needs for staff and can analyze and evaluate which school initiatives are effective and identify opportunities for improvement.

Do other school districts in our area use this screening instrument?  

There are a number of local districts that have used or currently use the BIMAS-2™, including Jamesville-Dewitt, Baldwinsville, Westhill, Cazenovia, Skaneateles, North Syracuse, Lafayette and others.  Universal screeners are tools that schools can use to identify at-risk students and inform systemic social emotional learning initiatives and mental health prevention and intervention measures.

What type of questions are on the screener?

The following are examples of questions included on the screener:

  • During the past week, I shared my thoughts with others.
  • During the past week, I had trouble paying attention.
  • During the past week, I followed directions.
  • During the past week, I was sad or withdrawn.

For each question, the student will answer “never,” “rarely,” “sometimes,” “often,” or “very often.”

You can access a copy of the Standard Form online.

Can this screener be used to diagnose mental health or other psychological disorders? 

No. This is a behavioral screener, NOT a diagnostic tool. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health, contact your pediatrician or your school’s Counseling Office for a list of local therapists, agencies and other resources to support your child.

Does my student have to participate?

We believe that a student’s emotional health is as important as their academic skills and  physical health in their readiness and ability to learn. Just like our schools begin to administer academic screenings starting in Kindergarten, looking at our students’ social-emotional wellness provides another point of information to ensure our students are equipped to learn.

The Fayetteville-Manlius community has recently articulated the school district’s important role in supporting students’ emotional health, and we believe this screener is a big step in addressing that need. Because of this stakeholder feedback, and similar to many other local-area school districts, the Fayetteville-Manlius CSD is employing passive consent with this survey instrument.  The school district referenced the administration of a screener in the recent Supporting Students’ Mental Health brochure sent to families this fall, and in this week’s School Messenger announcement.

In accordance with the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) and Board of Education Policy #7250, families who wish to have their children opt out of the BIMAS-2™ screening should notify their child’s building principal.

Who will have access to my student’s responses? How will my student’s responses be stored?

Students’ confidential responses will be maintained in a secure document, which is accessible only by the student support team (school counselors, school psychologists, Family-School Liaisons, and school administrators) in the student’s respective school. This data will not be shared with any third parties.

Can I review my child’s responses?

To review your child’s responses to the screener, please contact your school’s counseling office.

  • Wellwood (315) 692-1301
  • Eagle Hill (315) 692-1401
  • F-M High School (315) 692-1801

What will the district do with the data collected from the administration of BIMAS-2™?

This valuable screening tool provides us insight into the social and emotional health of our students. It also allows us to monitor and track students’ behavioral health over time, looking for any changes that could be a concern. Just like with our reading and math screenings, we will be using this information to provide interventions to students to help them grow. On a larger scale, the data generated from the BIMAS-2™ can help inform district and school-wide mental health and social emotional learning  initiatives, prevention, intervention, and training needs for staff.

On a daily basis, student support team members already work diligently with families and students to encourage the sharing of important wellness information with counselors and teachers, especially when it’s about ensuring student physical and emotional safety. 

Who can I contact if I have more questions about the BIMAS-2™ or other mental health initiatives? 

Please contact William DeSantis of Contact Community Services, the Mental Health Educator in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District. He can be reached at or (315) 692-1890.