Put the I back in IEP with the FAR Interpretive Report

The Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) is a comprehensive reading assessment that uses a neurological approach to determine if a student is at risk for specific subtypes of dyslexia. It is useful for educators, reading specialists, and school psychologists not only because it identifies a possible cause of reading difficulties—but also because it offers intervention recommendations based on the student’s specific type of reading difficulty.  It truly helps put the individual back in an Individualized Education Program.

The new FAR Interpretive Report takes this individualized approach a step further, using scores from all 16 FAR tasks as well as index scores and index discrepancy scores to provide targeted reading considerations and strategies based on research from more than 200 current reading programs. Don’t spend hours researching reading strategies and intervention tools–we’ve done the work for you! With the click of your mouse, you have the information you need to help your students succeed.

Save even more time by copying and pasting report recommendations directly from the FAR Interpretive Report into other documents.

The FAR Interpretive Report is available only on PARiConnect, our online assessment platform. Not yet connected? Sign up now and get your first three administrations and reports for free!

Learn more about the FAR.

College can be difficult even for the most prepared of students. For those struggling with an undiagnosed learning difficulty, it can be overwhelming. They may have poor coping skills, increased levels of stress, executive functioning and working memory deficits, low self-esteem, and even significant academic, interpersonal, and psychological difficulties. The worst part? They don’t know why. The new Kane Learning Difficulties Assessment™ (KLDA™) is a tool that screens college students for learning difficulties and ADHD to give them the answers they need. According to a National Council on Disability report, up to 44% of individuals with an attention deficit disorder were first identified at the postsecondary level. The KLDA screens college students for learning difficulties and ADHD as well as other issues that affect learning, such as anxiety, memory, and functional problems like organization and procrastination. It identifies those who should seek further assessment, so they can get the help they need to succeed in college. The KLDA measures academic strengths and weaknesses in key areas, including reading, listening, time management, writing, math, concentration and memory, organization and self-control, oral presentation, and anxiety and pressure. It is useful for all levels of postsecondary education, including vocational schools, technical colleges, community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, and graduate schools. The KLDA is a self-report form that can be completed with paper and pencil or online via PARiConnect. Administration takes just 15 minutes, and no special training is required to administer or score. Scoring and reporting is completed exclusively through PARiConnect. A Student Feedback Report is generated for students that provides them with a comparative sense of their academic skills in relation to their peers. A Score Report is generated for the test administrator. For students, knowing that are at risk for a learning difficulty, ADHD, or other issue that affects learning—and getting the help they need—can be a first step toward academic success. For more information or to order the KLDA, visit the product page.  
FAM_120Learning WHY a student struggles in math so you can determine HOW to intervene just got easier! The FAM is a comprehensive assessment of mathematics designed to examine the underlying neurodevelopmental processes that support the acquisition of proficient math skills. It not only helps determine if an examinee has a math learning disability, but also identifies the specific subtype of dyscalculia, which better informs decisions about appropriate interventions. With the FAM on PARiConnect, you can:
  • Receive Score Reports instantly for the FAM battery and FAM Screening Form after entering scale-level data.
  • Obtain brief interpretive statements available only through PARiConnect.
  • Generate Reliable Change Reports to track performance after multiple administrations of the FAM.
Try the FAM on PARiConnect today! Free 24/7 training on the FAM is available on the PAR Training Portal!
We recently sat down with Steven G. Feifer, DEd, author of the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™) and Feifer Assessment of Mathematics™ (FAM™) for an interview to discuss how to use cognitive neuroscience to better understand why students struggle in school. This is the second part of a two-part interview. Did you miss Part 1? Catch up here. How do the FAR and FAM go beyond just using an aptitude/achievement discrepancy perspective? SF: The FAR and FAM represent a more ecologically valid way to understand the core psychological processes involved with both reading and mathematics. Many psychologists are used to measuring executive functioning, working memory, visual perception, and processing speed using stand-alone instruments, and then must clinically bridge these results into the worlds of reading and math. In other words, how does poor performance on executive functioning tasks impact the ability to read on grade level? These can be very difficult questions to answer. The FAR and the FAM seek to measure these psychological constructs while the student is actually engaged in the academic skill itself, allowing the examiner to directly determine the impact of each neurocognitive process on the academic skill itself. Typical achievement tests are important to determine where a student is functioning with respect to a nationally normed sample, but the FAR and FAM were designed to explain why. This is the key to really bringing back the “I” into an “IEP,” so practitioners can more readily inform intervention decision making. Do the instruments give you a reading/math level? SF: Both the FAR and FAM give you an overall composite score, but the true value of these instruments lies within the factor scores. We chose grade-based norms due to the variability of ages in each grade and thought it was only fair to compare a student’s performance with students in the same grade-level curriculum. In other words, it did not seem fair to compare a 10-year-old in the 3rd grade with a 10 year-old in the 5th grade with two more years of formal instruction. Academic skills should be based upon the current grade level of the child, especially when we have an educational system where 43 of 50 states follow a common core curriculum. If practitioners are uncomfortable with grade-based norms, there is a conversion by age proxy table included. Do you need a neuropsychology background to administer and/or interpret any of these instruments? SF: I think you need a reading or math background to administer and interpret these instruments, which is why these are B-level qualification instruments.  This means most teachers can readily administer the FAR and the FAM. It is not necessary to understand the neuroscience behind each learning disorder subtype, but it is necessary to understand the learning dynamics involved with each skill. For instance, most educators readily understand the role of phonics, fluency, orthography, and comprehension in reading. The FAR can catalogue the relative strengths and weaknesses within each of these processing areas to best inform intervention decision making. To learn more about the FAR or the FAM, visit their product pages.
We recently sat down with Steven G. Feifer, DEd, author of the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™) and Feifer Assessment of Mathematics™ (FAM™) for an interview to discuss how to use cognitive neuroscience to better understand why students struggle in school. This is the first part of a two-part interview. Come back next week for the conclusion.   What influence did neuroscience and research in this area have on your work in test development? Steven Feifer: I have spent most of my career as a school psychologist trying to coalesce the fields of neuropsychology and education. I suppose it stemmed from my utter frustration in trying to explain learning simply through the lens of an IQ test score. After all, when was the last time somebody wrote a meaningful goal and objective on an IEP because a psychologist said a child’s Full Scale IQ was 94? Why was an instrument like the FAR needed? SF: The FAR was created for a number of reasons. First, I am especially grateful to PAR for recognizing the need for an educational assessment tool based upon a neuropsychological theory: the gradiental model of brain functioning. Second, I think the FAR represents a new wave of assessment instruments that does not simply document where a student is achieving, but explains why. This allows practitioners to better inform intervention decision making. Third, with the reauthorization of IDEA in 2004, school psychologists and educational diagnosticians no longer have to use a discrepancy model to identify a learning disability. However, most examiners are a bit leery about switching to a processing strengths and weaknesses model because of the sheer complexity and loose structure of this approach. The FAR identifies the direct processes involved with reading and makes the process easy without having to rely on a cross battery approach. Lastly, many states have now required schools to screen for dyslexia in grades K-2. The FAR Screening Form is ideal to function in this regard. How did using a brain-based perspective guide you when developing the subtests and subtypes for the FAR and the FAM? SF: I have conducted more than 600 professional workshops worldwide to both educators and psychologists. Most educators readily understand that there are different kinds of reading disorders, and therefore different kinds of interventions are necessary. By discussing reading, math, or written language from a brain-based educational perspective, I try to point out specific pathways in the brain that support phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, comprehension, and other attributes inherent in the reading process. I also illustrate what a dyslexic brain looks like before an intervention and then after an intervention. Cognitive neuroscience greatly validates the work of our educators and reading specialists. In addition, cognitive neuroscience also provides the foundation for various subtypes of reading disorders based upon the integrity of targeted neurodevelopmental pathways. Come back next week for the second part of this interview!  
The term dyslexia has been a part of the education lexicon for decades. When it was first “discovered” in the 1970s, there were no technological processes yet in place to prove it was a brain-based condition. However, writes Martha Burns, PhD, in a Science of Learning blog, “psychologists, neurologists, and special educators …. assumed dyslexia [had] a neurological basis. In fact, the term ‘dyslexia’ actually stems from the Greek ‘alexia,’ which literally means ‘loss of the word’ and was the diagnostic term used when adults lost the ability to read after suffering a brain injury.” At the time, the cause, “was deemed not important,” continues Burns. “Rather, the goal was to develop and test interventions and measure their outcomes without an effort to relate the interventions to the underlying causation.” However, using neuroscience to pinpoint exactly why a student struggles in reading or math can help educators come up with specific and effective interventions. School psychologist Steven G. Feifer, DEd, ABSNP, became interested in neuroscience as it relates to reading when, early in his career, he had an opportunity to evaluate a very impaired student named Jason. “His IQ was 36,” recalls Dr. Feifer, “but he was an incredible reader.   This was pretty difficult to explain using a discrepancy model paradigm, which falsely implies that an IQ score represents a student’s potential.  I made a concerted paradigm shift, and tried to find a more scientifically rigorous explanation for Jason’s amazing skills.  This quickly led me to the research library at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “As it turned out, Jason was quite easy to explain,” he continues. “He had a condition called hyperlexia. After much research, I presented information about the neural mechanisms underscoring hyperlexia at Jason’s IEP meeting.  The IEP team was incredibly receptive to the information and immediately amended Jason’s IEP so he received inclusionary services in a regular fifth-grade classroom. “Jason turned out to be the single highest speller in fifth grade. I was convinced that discussing how a child learns from a brain-based educational perspective, and not solely an IQ perspective, was the best way to understanding the dynamics of learning and inform intervention decision making. “The following year, I enrolled in a neuropsychology training program and was fortunate enough to study with the top neuropsychologists in the country.” Dr. Feifer, who has 19 years of experience as a school psychologist, was voted the Maryland School Psychologist of the Year in 2008 and the National School Psychologist of the Year in 2009. He is a diplomate in school neuropsychology and currently works as a faculty instructor in the American Board of School Neuropsychology (ABSNP) school neuropsychology training program.  He continues to evaluate children in private practice at the Monocacy Neurodevelopmental Center in Frederick, Maryland, and consults with numerous school districts throughout the country. Dr. Feifer has written several books and two assessments that examine learning disabilities from a neurodevelopmental perspective—the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) and the Feifer Assessment of Mathematics (FAM).
FAM_ManualCover2Identifying and addressing characteristics of a math learning disability gives clinicians and educators the tools they need to develop appropriate interventions specific to the individual child, so he or she can succeed in math. The Feifer Assessment of Mathematics™ (FAM™) isolates, measures, and quantifies three subtypes of developmental dyscalculia to explain—from a neurodevelopmental perspective—why a child may have difficulty in math. The 19 subtests of the FAM help determine not only if a child has the characteristics of a general math learning disability (MLD), but also his or her specific subtype of dyscalculia:
  • Procedural: A deficit in the ability to count, order, or sequence numbers or mathematical procedures.
  • Verbal: An inability to use language-based procedures to assist with arithmetic skills.
  • Semantic: A core deficit in both visual-spatial and conceptual components.
Created by Steven G. Feifer, DEd, author of the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™), the FAM is:
  • Unique: It’s the only math assessment that identifies specifically WHY a student is struggling in math by identifying his or her specific type of dyscalculia.
  • Fast: The available Screening Form takes just 15 minutes, and comprehensive testing can be completed in less than an hour.
  • Easy: Administration and scoring are straightforward and streamlined.
Take advantage of introductory pricing! Order now and get the FAM Comprehensive Kit for only $445 or the FAM Screening Form Kit for just $235! To learn more or to order your FAM kit, visit www.parinc.com or call 1.800.331.8378.
Dyslexia is often misunderstood and is used as a catch-all term for reading disorders. However, other lesser-known reading disorders often mimic dyslexia, such as Specific Reading Comprehension Deficits (S-RCD). While people with dyslexia struggle to sound out words and often confuse letters, people with S-RCD can decode words but struggle to understand what they read. In an interview, celebrity Jennifer Aniston shared that she grew up believing she was stupid, revealing that she was finally diagnosed with dyslexia at age 20.  Other celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg and Tom Cruise also revealed they were diagnosed with dyslexia. It is very common for dyslexia not to be discovered until adulthood; therefore, people grow up with low self-esteem thinking they aren’t smart and that something is wrong with them. Yet according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there’s no correlation between dyslexia and intelligence. Many people diagnosed with this disorder have normal or above-average intelligence. S-RCD often goes undiagnosed until it becomes an unavoidable problem. According to Neuroscience News, “Neuroimaging of children showed that the brain function of those with S-RCD while reading is quite different and distinct from those with dyslexia. Those with dyslexia exhibited abnormalities in a specific region in the occipital-temporal cortex, a part of the brain that is associated with successfully recognizing words on a page.” A few months ago, the Mississippi Board of Education notified 5,612 third grade students that they failed to pass the reading test that would allow them to enter the fourth grade. While some deemed the test unfair, Governor Bryant believes that taking a tough stance is the best course of action in the long run, crediting his own fourth grade teacher with discovering that his reading disability was caused by dyslexia, and helping him overcome it. “Repeating the third grade was the best thing that ever happened to me,” the governor said. Because of its prominence in the news, dyslexia often overshadows other reading disorders. In schools, it is necessary to break down reading disabilities, or learning disabilities in general, and match the disability with intervention strategies to assist the student. Once the underlying causes of reading disabilities are understood, school personnel can use their knowledge to help students understand their strengths and weaknesses regarding reading and language. What do you think? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!