By Contributing Writer Ben Falasco (‘24)
Since the 2021-2022 school year, the Jamesville-DeWitt School District has implemented a new screen-testing program. Taken every year, this program is known as BIMAS, standing for Behavioral Intervention Monitoring Assessment System. The establishment of this screen-conducted program is to get a deeper dive into each student’s behavioral, social, and emotional status and habits they rely on, like procrastination and coping mechanisms. The program’s purpose is to help students in need that may be struggling with these habits, including bullying and the environment around them, like their social life. It provides an overall check-in with students and how their mental health is.
This testing system is not limited to one group of students, as it is a test that all students ages 5-18 take. This means that all three levels of school — elementary, middle, and high school — will be taking this mental-health-based test. The test taking dates are divided separately, in order to minimize the amount of students taking the test at one time. This leads to the testing happening two times a week, with groups based on grade level. One grade per week is taking the test, meaning half of the students take it one day of the week, and the other half take it the second testing day of the week. Overall, the BIMAS testing process should take around a month for it to be completed.
In terms of how this program is structured, the BIMAS test as a whole includes about 34 change-sensitive questions. These questions are related to what has been going on in regards to students’ mental-health life recently. Because this testing usually lasts 10-15 minutes, homeroom periods are extended by five minutes on the days of BIMAS testing.
After the BIMAS testing, there will be research conducted by the school based on students’ responses to the survey. Despite this, the BIMAS testing is not used for determining any mental illness, and is not a tool for diagnosing mental illnesses. The only people that can see the scores are counselors and select administrators.
Because of students’ experiences with BIMAS testing last year, when it was first implemented, there are mixed opinions and viewpoints on how students feel about this system. Many students are fond of the idea that J-D is putting in effort to check in on their mental health. They feel as it is a necessary process in order to take action on negative actions regarding mental-health at the school(s). While there are some students who appreciate the testing and find the BIMAS valuable, there are also a number of students who think the complete opposite; they think that it is “an invasion of privacy” and that they shouldn’t rely on screen-testing programs to help someone when they need help.
The BIMAS testing system looks like it is here to stay in the Jamesville-DeWitt School District, turning it into a yearly occurrence. This program establishment at J-D shows the students that the district is putting in effort to prioritize students’ mental health. The district believes that the effects that come out of this testing year after year will continue to deliver positive actions taken during mental health.