During our recent PARtalks webinar series on assessing individuals with disabilities, PAR received some questions about adapting, modifying, and accommodating assessments. It is important to be mindful of a range of psychometric, social, clinical, and disability-related issues. We hope the following will provide helpful guidance when determining if modifications or accommodations are necessary.
There are many issues to consider that may complicate the psychological testing of people with disabilities. It is important to attend to issues of bias, reliability, and validity.
Language, motor, sensory, medical, and cognitive disabilities can impact aspects of an assessment. Additionally, comorbid conditions or secondary disabilities can be a complicating factor.
It is crucial for examiners to consider each individual's disability and how it relates to other functions to develop a strategy that ensures the appropriate construct is being measured. For example, disability-related symptoms such as fatigue and pain can confound psychometric tests and artificially inflate measures of depression. Or a motor-functioning disability that affects fine motor control may create results that mistakenly imply cognitive impairment. Examiners who do not take these issues into consideration risk drawing misleading inferences, making inaccurate conclusions, and offering unsuitable treatment recommendations.
To determine if an instrument is suitable for use with a client with a disability, clinicians must evaluate if the measure(s) being considered are appropriate for use without introducing accessibility challenges. If the construct to be measured will be measured in a way that requires a specific functional ability that is related to the client’s disability, or if the measure’s administration instructions and response options are related to the client’s impairment, for example, another measure may be considered.
The clinician should consider validity information regarding a measure’s use with people with specific disabilities, just as they would for any other population. Quantitative measures should be supplemented by qualitative and functional assessments. Before testing, it is important to meet with the client to understand disability-specific characteristics related to the constructs of interest. It is the clinician's responsibility to describe the assessment and subsequent results in terms that the client can easily understand.
Any decisions to modify protocols requires thoughtful consideration and justification but may be useful ways to support individuals with disabilities. There are two types of alterations to testing, accommodations and modifications. Accommodations improve access to the test without affecting the construct being measured. Modifications may affect the construct and may influence validity.
Accommodations: A testing accommodation is a change in test format, presentation, administration, or response procedures. Accommodations do not alter the construct being measured and scores are comparable with the original test.
Modifications: Modifications are testing changes that may alter the intended construct. The purpose of a modification is to improve accessibility while retaining as much of the original construct as possible.
Accessibility means the ability to access, interact with, and respond appropriately to test content. It involves designing a measure in a way that reduces barriers to a valid assessment of a given construct. Accommodations and modifications are often made to increase accessibility, but if accessibility is designed into the structure of an instrument, they may not be required.
Determining the necessity of an accommodation depends on how the disability presents as well as the construct or constructs being assessed. Accommodations help clients with varying levels of ability by removing access barriers that might influence the individual’s results. However, accommodations do not alter the construct being measured.
Accommodations may be made to the environment or to the way a task is presented without changing the content of the task. An accommodation for a student with a visual impairment might be enlarging print materials; an accommodation for a student who is deaf might be providing an ASL interpreter.
Modifications, however, can be changes that are made to the content or expectations of an assignment, task, or assessment. A student with a learning disability might receive a modification that reduces the number of questions on a test or provides untimed access to the materials. Modifications change what the individual is expected to learn or do in order to make it more accessible.
In general, modifications are more significant changes. Modifications alter what is expected of the individual; accommodations are less significant changes that provide support for the individual to access the same content and activities as their peers.
Learn more about modifying psychological assessments for individuals with disabilities:
American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines for Assessment and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities: APA has developed these guidelines to help psychologists develop and implement effective, fair, and ethical psychological assessments and interventions.
National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD): The NJCLD has developed guidelines for the assessment of individuals with learning disabilities. The NJCLD offers recommendations for modifying psychological assessments.
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): NASP offers advice and guidance on modifying assessments as well as evaluating the effectiveness of those interventions.
The PAR Training Portal. Catch up on the PARtalks disability series on the PAR Training Portal. Recorded webinars are available on demand to help you learn more about working with individuals with a variety of disabilities.
This week’s blog was contributed by Nikel Rogers-Wood, PhD, LP, HSP. Dr. Rogers-Wood is a licensed psychologist and a project director at PAR. She has a PhD in counseling psychology.
“I’ve been feeling really anxious, my heart races, and I can’t concentrate. I already know I have generalized anxiety disorder because I watched a bunch of TikToks and took a quiz online that came back with a diagnosis.”
Sound familiar? Social media, particularly TikTok, is a place where clients and potential clients sometimes go to find answers to their mental health questions. Though it's encouraging to see more social acceptance and support for mental health challenges, there are so many influencers out there that it can be difficult to know who has professional expertise and what information is accurate.
Further complicating the situation are online quizzes. Type “Do I have depression?” into Google and get pages of results. Many of these quizzes also show up as ads and links embedded in social media feeds. What differentiates these free social media quizzes from well-researched and empirically validated tests? A great deal. Can the general public tell the difference? Not yet. That’s where PAR can help.
As one of our assessment customers, you already know the value of an accurate evaluation. After all, quality assessment results in accurate diagnosis, which drives effective treatment and positive client outcomes. That’s why it’s so important for clients to seek testing and support from qualified professionals. So how do you help someone who has self-diagnosed find their way to more accurate and helpful information?
The first step is to validate what they’re seeking—answers. Something is happening in their lives that has driven them to find the answer on the internet. However, much like it's hard to find the right street when your GPS is programmed to another part of the country, it’s hard to find answers when you take a quiz that isn’t reliable or valid.
It’s important to educate our communities so they realize that building a good assessment measure goes beyond choosing questions to ask. They need to know that researchers and test publishers devote time and energy into determining whether individual items (and the test as a whole) measure what they are supposed to measure; if there are differences in outcomes based on demographic factors like age, sex, and race/ethnicity; if the results can be trusted to be reliable; and how the results fit in with diagnoses. Although it may be tempting to take a free quiz that pops up on our social media feed, when it comes to our mental health, wouldn’t it be better to find a resource that will give us accurate results?
PAR provides a wide variety of high-quality assessments that have been well built, validated, and thoroughly researched. We also offer our products in performance-based and self-report formats. For individuals who prefer a self-serve style of assessment, the Self-Directed Search asks questions about career interests and preferences and produces a thorough, client-friendly report with results and guidance on next steps. When a deeper dive is necessary, individuals can collaborate with a licensed professional and use an instrument like the PAI for answers.
The difference between unvalidated quizzes and validated assessment measures is the difference between cookies and a real meal. Can you eat either one when you’re hungry? Sure. However, the cookies only take the edge off hunger and your nourishment can’t be based on cookies alone. At PAR, we offer the five food groups. Snacks aren’t going anywhere, but when you want to get what you really need, come to us.
This year commemorates the 100th anniversary of one of the most widely used tests ever published—the Rorschach Test. We take this opportunity to look back on the history of this assessment and the person who made it possible.
Hermann Rorschach was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who is best known for developing the Rorschach inkblot test. He died in 1922 at the age of 38—before the test gained popularity. This projective test was never intended to be what it is today. In fact, initial research was focused on using this as a test for schizophrenia.
As a child, Rorschach was a fan of a game called Klecksographie. He was so devoted that his childhood nickname was Kleck. The game involved collecting inkblot cards and using those cards to create stories based on your interpretation.
Rorschach's early training was in psychiatry and psychoanalytic theory, and he became interested in the use of projective techniques. During his training, he noticed that individuals who had schizophrenia made different associations with the Klecksographie cards than those individuals without schizophrenia. He believed that the human mind projects its own subjective interpretations onto ambiguous stimuli, and these projections could reveal important information about an individual's personality and emotional functioning.
Rorschach studied 405 subjects, 117 of whom were not psychiatric patients. He showed each person a card and asked them what it may be. After four years of research, he believed this test could help diagnose and assess mental illness.
His results were published in 1921. The test gained popularity in the years following Rorschach's death, becoming the most popular test in clinical practice in the U.S. following World War II. It remains one of the most widely used and well-known psychological tests to this day.
The Rorschach test consists of 10 psychodiagnostic plates, which are presented to the subject one at a time. Though the test was initially designed for adults, normative data is available for adolescents and children.
After administration, the subjects’ insights and reactions are recorded and analyzed. In addition to scores, interpretation of behaviors during testing, patterns of responses, and themes may be taken into account.
Rorschach established a parallel between a mostly global approach to the blots and the ability to synthesize versus a more detailed approach reflecting a more analytical mind. He also determined that it was important to attend to an individual’s sensitivity to grey and black colors as well as the proportion of objects. Through this work, Rorschach proposed a typology distinguishing three basic modalities of relating to the world: introversiveness, extratensiveness, and ambitancy. These types relate to the way people associate, dissociate, or mix emotions and thoughts.
The validity of the Rorschach Test has been challenged over the years, and much research has been dedicated to both the criticism and support of the measure. As Rorschach died before the test achieved notoriety, much of the work has been done by others, and there is concern that other researchers may have modified or reinterpreted the assessment. The International Society of the Rorschach and Projective Methods (ISR) encourages users to only original stimulus material to maintain the integrity of the test.
The ISR produces the journal Rorschachiana that publishes the theory and clinical applications of the Rorschach and other projective techniques. You can read its latest issue here.
The Rorschach Test Centenary Edition is now available. It includes the original test plates, a newly translated and annotated edition of the original book, and a special issue of the Rorschachiana journal that addresses recent studies on the reliability and validity of the test.
In honor of Black History Month, it is important to acknowledge that the accomplishments of Black Americans have too often been overlooked. We would like to take this opportunity to recognize several notable Black psychologists who are responsible for historic contributions to the field. These individuals and their work deserves to be amplified in order to build a future based on equity, inclusion, and opportunity.
Dr. Beckham is known as the first African American to hold the title of school psychologist. He established the first psychological laboratory at Howard University in Washington, DC. He is also credited with starting the first psychological clinic in a public school at DuSable High School in Chicago.
Dr. Canady is most known for being the first psychologist to study how the race of a test proctor may create bias in IQ testing. He found that the rapport between examinee and examiner could have significant impact and provided suggestions to reduce bias.
This husband-and-wife team are known for their famous “doll study,” which showed that Black children, when asked to choose a doll most like themselves, would disproportionately choose White dolls. Their research was used in Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 to argue that racially separate schools were psychologically harmful and violated the 14th Amendment.
Dr. Prosser was the first African American woman to receive her doctoral degree in psychology. She spent most of her short life focused on teaching and education.
Dr. Prosser's dissertation research focused on self-esteem and personality in matched pairs of Black students, with half of those studied attending segregated schools and the other half attending integrated schools. She found that Black students fared better in segregated schools. Her findings were controversial in the years leading to Brown v. Board of Education but were supported by people such as Carter Woodson and W.E.B. DuBois.
Dr. Sumner was the first African American to receive a PhD in psychology. His research focused on understanding racial bias and encouraging educational justice. He was one of the founders of the psychology department at Howard University, where he served as chair from 1928–1954.
This week’s blog was contributed by Melissa Milanak, PhD, PAR’s clinical assessment. Melissa is a licensed clinical psychologist and internationally recognized academic. She has extensive clinical experience providing therapy and conducting assessments with a diverse array of patient populations.
As your trusted source for assessments for all your clinical needs, PAR is excited to also partner with you in many practical ways as you conduct your research, whether it be a large federally funded grant, a manuscript you are preparing to submit, or a course project with your students and trainees running on zero budget. Here are just a few of the ways PAR can help researchers.
The submission deadline is approaching, and it is time to write the methods section. Instead of spending hours pouring through assessment manuals and reading journal article after journal article to extract psychometric data for the one paragraph, consider reaching out to PAR directly. Our psychologists and researchers have already prepared and formatted the assessment info paragraphs for you that you can insert into your manuscripts and grant applications. Don’t see the one you need there? Let us know and we will get you the info you need.
Through our data sharing program, you can partner with our R&D team to help us collect important data on our assessments all while receiving discounts and/or free usage of the related assessments. All data sharing is of course de-identified and confidential to protect participants.
Through our digital assessment platform, PARiConnect, you can email HIPAA-compliant links directly to research participants to complete all of your research assessments online, expanding your geographical reach. You can also access observer and collateral research data without requiring additional individuals to come into your data collection site. Plus, if you send out an assessment link and a participant decides not to participate, you can revoke the link and reuse the assessment with another participant without having to pay for an unused assessment.
By using PARiConnect, either through a HIPAA-compliant email link or in-person digital entry option, participants enter their own data, removing a layer of data entry error (and the need to invest in time for research assistants to enter and check data entry). Plus, with settings to prevent skipping questions, you can reduce the risk of missing data.
In less than a minute, you can download item-level assessment data to a CSV spreadsheet formatted to integrate with statistics software such as SPSS to increase the ease of data processing and analyzation.
Through our FREE Training Portal and team of clinical assessment advisors, PAR provides on-demand training for you and your research teams to learn about the assessments from underlying constructs to administration, scoring, and interpretation.
As you are designing your research, clinical psychologists, neuropsychologists, and psychometrists who have a history of successfully securing federally funded grants and publishing in high impact-factor journals are available to consult with you to build effective, efficient research assessment batteries.
These examples are just the beginning when exploring ways that PAR can partner with you to design, conduct, and publish your research using high-caliber, industry gold-standard assessments. Reach out to our team today to learn more!
Check out this video on ways PAR can help you easily integrate digital assessments into your practice.
This week’s blog was contributed by Darla DeCarlo, PsyS, LMHC, PAR’s regional manager–educational assessments. Darla is a certified school psychologist who spent more than 30 years providing professional services in a variety of settings.
Anxiety is not always a bad thing. In fact, our ancestors could not have survived without it. Fear and worry are aspects of the human condition that we need—to some degree—in order to survive and thrive. However, when anxiety interferes with daily activities and becomes overwhelming, it can be restraining, debilitating, and even paralyzing.
School shootings, the pandemic, increased societal violence, and a generally chaotic world have set the stage for an increase in mental health issues in children. As school psychologists and educators, we worry about the impact this has on our students—and about the subsequent impact it has on their ability to learn and succeed in school.
A recent study conducted by the Wisconsin–Minnesota Comprehensive Center (WMCC), in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), confirmed what educators and administrators have been reporting in recent years: Student mental health is suffering, and anxiety is playing a large role.
Parents further confirm this. The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago studied 1,000 parents from around the U.S., and what they learned was astounding: 71% of parents said the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health, and 69% said the pandemic was the worst thing to happen to their child.
The increase in mental health issues among students predates the pandemic. A recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study showed a significant increase in reported mental health conditions in children ages 3 to 17 years between 2016 and 2020. During this time, anxiety diagnoses in this age group grew by 29% and depression diagnoses increased by 27%.
Every child is unique, so responses to stressful situations vary from child to child. Perception also differs from child to child, so what one sees as unmanageable another may see as a challenge.
Keep in mind, these signs and symptoms are not only associated with anxiety. We might see these same symptoms for completely unrelated reasons.
• Upset stomach or stomach pains
• Chest pain, palpitations, or increased heart rate
• Decreased appetite, comfort-eating, or binge-eating
• Pretending to be sick to avoid activities
• Mood swings
• New or recurring fears
• Increased crying, anger, stubbornness, or aggression
• Decreased concentration or motivation
• Regressing toward comforting behaviors from early childhood (i.e., thumb-sucking, nail-biting, sleeping with a stuffed animal)
• Social isolation, withdrawal, or unwillingness to participate in formerly enjoyed activities
• Increased irritability
• Difficulty falling or staying asleep
• Difficulty separating from parents
• Refusal to go to school or participate in other activities, including those for fun
• Difficulty meeting new people
• Not speaking to people outside of the family
• Nervous tics
PAR offers a variety of assessment products to address anxiety throughout the life span. Learn more.
This is the second part in a series on the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR). Catch up on the first part here.
The FAR is a comprehensive assessment of reading and related processes that was developed to fill a gap in student testing. It measures the neurocognitive processes responsible for reading, within the actual context of reading, to explain why a student may struggle.
Information gleaned from the FAR can be used to determine if a student is likely to have dyslexia. However, it digs deeper than other measures to identify the likely dyslexic subtype as well, which arms educators with the detailed information they need to develop effective interventions.
“I prefer the FAR over other measures because it gives me more specific dyslexia information,” said Angela Hoffer, PsyD, NCSP, a school psychologist in Aiken, South Carolina. “I like that I can provide more tailored recommendations for students.”
The FAR is based on the premise that interventions for reading disorders vary by dyslexic subtype. The FAR measures four subtypes of dyslexia:
Dysphonic—an inability to sound out words; these students rely on visual and orthographic cues to identify words in print.
Surface—the opposite of dysphonic dyslexia; students can sound out words but have difficulty recognizing them in print.
Mixed—the most severe type of reading disability; these students have difficulty across the language spectrum.
Reading comprehension—these students struggle to derive meaning from print despite good reading mechanics.
Recommendations are based on FAR scores and dyslexic subtype, allowing for more tailored—and effective—interventions to help students become better readers.
The FAR Interpretive Report on PARiConnect also helps explain a student’s reading concerns in ways parents and teachers can readily understand.
“The FAR does a good job of testing for dyslexia but also explaining to parents exactly what dyslexia is,” said Angela Hodges, EdS, NCSP, a school psychologist from Aiken, South Carolina. “It’s not always the stereotypical flipping of letters. It helps parents understand, Yes, your child might have dyslexia, but it really is a comprehension issue or a phonemic awareness issue. It helps parents and even some teachers understand that there are more functions and operations involved in reading than just sight word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. It helps parents understand where their child’s reading gaps are as opposed to, My child can’t read, or My kid’s below grade level in reading.”
A FAR Screening Form and FAR Screening Form Remote are also available!
This week’s blog was contributed by Carrie Champ Morera, PsyD, NCSP, LP. Carrie is a licensed school psychologist and the lead project and content director at PAR.
During in-person assessment sessions, you're in control of setting up the physical environment to make it conducive to success. When you work with children and adolescents via telehealth, specifically for teleassessment, you provide not only clinical services but also guidance to prepare younger clients for their remote sessions. Failure to do so can interrupt telehealth treatment or teleassessment, decrease remote participation and engagement, and jeopardize the ideal conditions needed to establish rapport and build a therapeutic alliance.
Here are 10 tips to consider as you design and maintain a working teleassessment environment with children and adolescents.
Before your first remote session with your student, let them know what to expect. Replicate what you would do during an in-person session.
Before beginning teleassessment, ensure your client has all the materials they need. We developed a checklist to help you get started, available here.
Provide the client with a moment to adjust after entering the assessment space. Take your time. Children may need some time to orient themselves to the virtual space.
Assess the environment. Ensure your client is in a quiet and comfortable environment, has a clear working space, and has minimal distractions. Be proactive and develop a safety plan.
Establish boundaries and expectations. Expect the child or adolescent to come prepared for the session as if they were meeting you in person.
Consider factors unique to teleassessment—for example, age. For younger children, testing sessions may need to be shorter depending on the type of task the test requires.
Openly discuss technology and platform challenges. Discuss and plan for any challenges with internet connections and anything relevant to the platform you are using.
Discuss any concerns about teleassessment. Though many individuals are comfortable with technology and using devices in general, they may be fearful or lack confidence about engaging in telehealth.
Consider your physical environment and telehealth setup. Mimic your in-person setting as much as you can. Maintain neat dress, minimize distractions, display a clean background, use sufficient lighting, and have your technology devices and materials ready.
Relationship is key! Go back to the basics. What helps you establish rapport when you're in person? Apply some of the same strategies when using telehealth.
This week’s blog was contributed by Melissa Milanak, PhD. Melissa is a licensed clinical psychologist and internationally recognized academic. She has extensive clinical experience providing therapy and conducting assessments with a diverse array of patient populations.
Learning more about assessment products can improve our ability to provide the best care for our clients, patients, and students. However, continuing education can also directly relate to other professional duties, such as keeping our license current and educating trainees.
For example, when your job is to train future providers, having accurate, easily accessible resources not only saves time but also engages trainees in new and exciting ways. PAR’s Training Portal features product-specific videos, resources, and practical applications that can provide hours of didactic support for trainees. These tools are also ideal for established providers who want to learn more about a new product or get a refresher on an instrument they might not have used recently. PAR’s Training Portal is completely free of charge and available on demand, 24/7. New content is added regularly, so it’s good practice to check back frequently for information relevant to your practice.
You can easily put products into practice using the 40% discount we offer on training materials that provide hands-on, practical experience. With PAR’s University Partnership Program (UPP), you can determine the tests that best fit your syllabus and get access to concierge support to design your own training (including PowerPoint slides, free test kits, and products), along with student discounts and faculty research discounts.
In addition, as a licensed provider, you must receive continuing education (CE). Though requirements can seem arduous and tedious, it’s important for you to continually learn about the tools and practices that can best help your patients and clients—and it can often be an exciting way to learn about what’s innovative and new in the industry. Even gold-standard assessments are updated and renormed as the literature grows and new insights are uncovered. The key as a provider is to balance relying on the assessments we know and love and have served us well (and helped many of our patients and clients over the years) while also keeping current with updates and edits, new product offerings, and useful new applications of our reliable tools!
PARtalks, our webinar platform, offers a vast array of CE sessions on products and applications. Featuring experts from a variety of backgrounds and topic areas, as well as insight from product authors and knowledgeable PAR staff, our webinars cover many topics relevant to psychological practice. Check out PARtalks frequently to see what webinars are coming up and which offer CE credits. And if you miss a live session, head back to the PAR Training Portal to view a recording.
Whether you are working with trainees or looking to further your own education on a topic, PAR offers a number of options to help you!
The increased use of telehealth—including teleassessment—has changed psychological assessment practices. Although many of us have adjusted our assessment practices to keep up with the times, we have to keep in mind that, when engaging in teleassessment, our practices must be ethical—just as if we were providing in-person assessment services.
Here are 10 ethical considerations for practitioners to consider when providing services via teleassessment.
1. Obtain informed consent. Just as you would do with in-person assessment practices, obtain informed consent prior to providing telehealth services. Informed consent is more than a form—it’s a process.
2. Train and practice. Carefully review standardization procedures for the assessment. Practice the assessments several times using the technology and platforms with which you plan to administer them.
3. Consult with colleagues. Talk about ethical dilemmas with colleagues, consult the literature, and continue to update your ethical guidelines. It’s important to lean on one another for practice, support, and guidance.
4. Follow the publisher’s guidelines. PAR developed a statement on telehealth that addresses test security and measurement concerns. The integrity and security of the tests must always be maintained.
5. Keep forms and data secure. Make sure paper protocols and electronic forms are stored securely. Consider password protections, encryption, and malware protection and keep backups.
6. Establish and maintain professional boundaries. It can be tempting to relax your professional boundaries in a telehealth setting. Dress professionally, reduce distractions, and set clear expectations with your clients.
7. Consider cultural factors. Consider the implications for clients from traditionally marginalized backgrounds or various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds or those with less computer experience.
8. Document the use of digital and remote assessments. Include a statement in your report that assessment was conducted via telehealth. Record any technical issues, and disclose any modifications or alterations of standardized procedures.
9. Consider the psychological effects of the pandemic in digital and remote assessment. We’ve seen a general increase in anxiety, depression, grief and loss, and isolation. Go beyond scores and evaluate individual item responses. Stressors all contribute to these psychological effects, perhaps now more than ever.
10. Take advantage of PAR resources. We have many teleassessment resources and a wide selection of products available for administration, scoring, and/or interpretation on PARiConnect—and we are always adding more! Need to brush up on your teleassessment skills? Check out this video from PAR’s Director of Customer Support, Daniel McFadden, or visit the PAR Training Portal for more insight. You can use PAR products via telehealth technology while retaining the integrity and security of the measures. PAR has several tools available to help you navigate this challenge.