Test anxiety or anxiety disorder?

Test anxiety is part of life for many college students. After all, it’s natural to worry about performance and want to do well, and mild nervousness before a test can actually improve performance. For most, the symptoms disappear when the test is over. But for students with an anxiety disorder, test anxiety can be overwhelming and all-consuming, leading to symptoms like difficulty concentrating, rapid breathing, dry mouth, and even panic. For these students, the symptoms don’t stop when the test is over.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America, with an estimated 42 million adults diagnosed. About 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life—and half of them develop conditions by the age of 14. Some of these young people will enter college not knowing they suffer from a treatable condition.

Students with undiagnosed anxiety are likely to struggle with physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms. They could even be at risk of failing—or dropping—out of school.

The Kane Learning Difficulties Assessment (KLDA) is a self-report screening tool developed to identify college students who struggle with a condition that affects learning such as an anxiety disorder, ADHD, an executive function deficit, or a specific learning disability.

The KLDA can help your students get the help they need to succeed in college. In just 15 minutes, it evaluates key areas including reading, writing, math, organization, time management, anxiety, and more. Administration is available on PARiConnect 3.0, the fastest and most reliable online platform in the assessment industry, so students can complete it on their own time, 24/7.

The KLDA report provides valuable information about the student’s individual learning strengths and weaknesses—and includes tailored interventions and accommodations that address them—and identifies students who are at risk of an undiagnosed condition like anxiety.

Help your struggling students keep their college careers—and their lives—on track with the KLDA.



Dyslexia in prisons: Eye-opening statistics

This week’s blog was written by Teri Lyon. Teri is a Senior Technical Support Specialist at PAR. She has been with PAR for more than 20 years. She enjoys punk music and painting.

I like to watch CBS Sunday Morning every weekend. Recently, I watched a segment on the prevalence of dyslexia in the prison population, which immediately caught my attention. Working at PAR and knowing Dr. Steven Feifer, I know how important it is to diagnose dyslexia and other learning disabilities early so a student can achieve his or her full potential. What I did not realize are the numbers behind this issue.

The segment told of a study that shows almost 50% of the prison population in Texas has dyslexia. In addition, approximately 80% of inmates are functionally illiterate. The segment went on to talk about how prisons are addressing this issue with more funding and prison reform. Although these things certainly help people in prison lead better lives, this does not prevent these individuals from ending up there in the first place.

Although this is not a case where you can throw money at a problem, we do know that schools in more affluent communities have higher test scores and graduation rates. While the parents and students may have more resources and may not have concerns like how to study while hungry, you can’t ignore how much better they do. Recently, the thinking on spending in education has changed. Studies show significant long-term gains for students when educational spending increased. The issue is that districts need to determine the best way to use their money.

Currently, the U.S. spends more on prisons than we do on education. California alone spends $53,147 more per year on a prisoner than it does a student. Overall, there are 15 states that spend more than $27,000 a year more per prisoner than they do per student.

Even with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), there are kids who fall between the cracks of education and into the justice system. It’s clear that this issue is multifaceted and complicated. From starting mandatory schooling at an earlier age, to better training for teachers, there are many ways this issue can be addressed. One thing is clear, though, we have to start somewhere.

I think it’s important to take a step back and realize how PAR instruments can help with greater societal issues. Because this is such an important topic, I immediately sent letters to both my congressman and senator letting them know my thoughts. Hopefully, this will get a very important subject the attention that it deserves.  



Now available: RIAS-2 Record Form with Spanish Responses

Lack of understanding about language acquisition. Inadequate or inappropriate psychoeducational assessment practices. Restricted access to effective understanding.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) position lists these as some of the reasons why English language learners (ELL) are overrepresented in special education and underrepresented in gifted programs.

In U.S. schools, more than 77% of ELL students speak Spanish. Based on their educational history and exposure to the language and the culture, these students will exhibit different degrees of acculturation and English-language proficiency.

Cognitive assessment that relies on verbal interaction and response in English is naturally unfair for individuals who are still learning the language. Nonverbal assessment is not free from cultural bias, either, and using translations or interpreters is not ideal.

The Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales, Second Edition (RIAS-2) evaluates verbal intelligence, nonverbal intelligence, memory, and speeded processing and provides an estimate of general intelligence in under an hour. The new RIAS-2 Spanish Form with Spanish Responses provides correct Spanish-language responses for the RIAS-2 Guess What, Verbal Reasoning, and What’s Missing subtests. Designed for use with Spanish bilingual and ELL students, it allows examinees to answer items in English or in Spanish, providing a practical and more ecologically valid way to test the intelligence of individuals who are still learning English.

Acceptable Spanish responses represent Spanish dialects most commonly spoken in the U.S., including Mexican, Central American, Caribbean, Colonial Spanish, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Venezuelan, Colombian, and Argentinian. The form also includes a new Language Acculturation Meter, a tool that provides a framework for test administration and interpretation.

The goal, after all, is to assess general intelligence, not English-language knowledge or fluency.