What does the science of cognitive neuropsychology—brain research—have to say about why kids struggle to read? Plenty! But it can be very time-consuming for busy professionals to sift through the research, assess kids’ brain functioning, and choose interventions that target their specific needs. This is where the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™), a new product from PAR, can help.
The FAR was developed using a brain-based educational model of reading. Research using neuroimaging techniques has clearly shown that specific neural networks in the brain are associated with different aspects of the reading process, such as phonemic awareness, fluency, decoding, and comprehension. This means that interventions for reading disorders vary depending on the specific dyslexic subtype of the individual reader.
Reading expert Dr. Steven Feifer developed the FAR to identify the four most common dyslexic subtypes: dysphonetic dyslexia, surface dyslexia, mixed dyslexia, and reading comprehension deficit. Comprising 15 subtests to measure highly differentiated aspects of reading, the FAR generates five index scores:
- the Phonological Index, including phonemic awareness, decoding, and positioning sounds;
- the Fluency Index, including orthographic processing plus both visual perception and verbal fluency;
- the Comprehension Index, including semantic concepts, word recall, and morphological processing;
- the Mixed Index (a composite of Phonological and Fluency Index scores); and
- the FAR Total Index (a composite of all subtest scores).
Clearly, the science is there. But many districts use a Response to Intervention (RTI) approach, with teams of educators planning interventions for kids and monitoring progress to see what’s been most effective. Where does brain science come into play?
RTI is about looking at the evidence—the individual student’s reading behaviors—and designing interventions that address his or her specific needs. Evidence-based interventions require evidence-based assessments. The FAR allows practitioners to conduct an in-depth assessment that provides information about how a child learns and processes information—not a label.
The RTI approach has many strengths, but often it is not sufficient on its own to identify or diagnose a learning disability. Also, remediation strategies are too often “one size fits all” when they haven’t taken into account the reasons behind a student’s reading difficulties. The FAR can support RTI by identifying learning disabilities, thereby reducing the risk of delaying diagnosis or denying students’ eligibility for much-needed services. The included Screening Form is perfect for a quick assessment of student progress—it takes just 15 minutes to complete.
The FAR is designed to integrate cognitive neuropsychology research into the RTI approach, supporting RTI while filling some of the gaps—especially in terms of dyslexia identification and differentiation—that RTI can miss. The FAR offers solutions for school psychologists, reading specialists, and teachers—and most importantly, the potential for real improvements in student reading.
To learn more about the FAR, visit www.parinc.com.