The need for mental health services for Spanish-speaking populations has never been greater. A study published in May reveals that from 2014–2019, the Hispanic population in the U.S. increased by 4.5%, but the number of facilities providing services in Spanish decreased by 17.8%. And these statistics don’t include the overall uptick in demand for mental health services created by the pandemic.
As part of our commitment to provide access to underserved populations, PAR now offers several Spanish-language assessment tools on PARiConnect, our online assessment platform, providing you with flexible assessment options for your Spanish-speaking clients and students to assess your Spanish-speaking clients.
Administration for these products is now available in Spanish on PARiConnect:
The Parenting Stress Index™, Fourth Edition Short Form (PSI™-4-SF) can quickly identify parent–child problem areas.
The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function®, Second Edition (BRIEF®2) Parent and Self-Report forms help you assess impairment of executive function from the parent or child’s perspective.
The Trauma Symptom Inventory™-2 (TSI™-2) evaluates acute and chronic posttraumatic symptomatology.
The Emotional Disturbance Decision Tree™–Parent Form and EDDT™-Self-Report Form assess emotional disturbance from the parent’s or student’s perspective.
The Personality Assessment Inventory™ (PAI®) Spanish: Revised Translation comprehensively assesses adult psychopathology.
Visit our Spanish-Language Products page for a complete listing of the many other products we offer in Spanish, plus you can download our FREE Language Acculturation Meter!
When schools shut down in 2020 due to the pandemic, millions of children, parents, and teachers found their worlds upended. Without kids in school, school psychologists were unable to test students who had been referred for special education services. Initial evaluations and re-evaluations piled up. Students, many of whom needed academic accommodations and interventions, were unable to receive the help they needed.
“We paused [testing], like everyone else in the country,” said Tina S. Nguyen, PhD, a school psychologist with Washington, D.C., public schools. “Initially, we thought it would be a few weeks. But eventually, we realized we couldn’t just not do these assessments.”
The scenario was similar for Tiombe Bisa Kendrick-Dunn, SSP, MS, NCSP, the district psychology chairperson for Miami-Dade County, Florida, public schools. “We did no evaluations at all between March and July ,” she said.
Both school districts began using the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales, Second Edition Remote (RIAS-2 Remote), which was published in July 2020.
Developed specifically to support school psychologists and clinicians who need to test students and clients from afar, the RIAS-2 Remote features minimally modified and digitally packaged components. It’s administered using a videoconferencing platform, and a 2018 study showed equivalency with the paper-and-pencil version.
Nguyen had used the RIAS-2 prior to the pandemic, so, for her, “it was a no-brainer to continue to use it,” she said. “We couldn’t determine eligibility without the information. The RIAS-2 Remote allowed us to evaluate these kids. Otherwise, we would have had to table [the evaluations] or do them without all the components.”
Norma Castillo, MEd, assistant director of special education for the Clint Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, also ordered the RIAS-2 Remote that summer. With a backlog of referrals to work through and new referrals coming in, she needed a trusted tool that her team could use to reach students and get them the services they needed.
“Without the RIAS-2 Remote, we would have waited [to test],” Castillo said. “I didn’t feel comfortable using a test that wasn’t meant to be used in any other way and have the diagnosticians write in their reports that they used a test the way it wasn’t meant to be used. The nice thing about the RIAS-2 Remote is that you don’t have to do that. It’s RIAS-2 Remote. It was great.”
The quick administration time for the RIAS-2 (less than 30 minutes for intelligence assessment) can help school psychologists reach more students in less time and work through their backlog of evaluations.
“I have so many assessments to do,” Nguyen said. “It’s easier for me to get through them with the RIAS-2 Remote. It’s a time-saver.”
Kendrick-Dunn said the RIAS-2 allows her to complete more evaluations per day. “I have used it more than I typically would for children who have been referred for the gifted program, specifically because of the time,” she said. “Other tests can take 90 minutes to 2 hours. I can do the RIAS-2 in half that time.”
“It’s quick,” agreed Rachael Donnelly, MA, AC, NCSP, a school psychologist with Anne Arundel County, Maryland, public schools. “There are other things I could be doing, like working directly with students or in consultation with teachers.”
In addition to being faster, the RIAS-2 also has fewer motor demands and language requirements, making it a more accurate test of intelligence. This was one of the authors’ goals during development.
“It is not necessary to include motor-dependent tasks to assess intelligence accurately.” said co-author Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD. “Intelligence tests should emphasize thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving.”
“The RIAS-2 is just as good a measure of cognitive ability and overall full-scale IQ than any other test that maybe has a million manipulatives that may impede or impact the validity,” Donnelly said. “It does a good job of measuring intelligence purely.”
With straightforward administration and clear directions, school psychologists also find that the RIAS-2 is easier for students to understand, giving them confidence that results are valid.
“I never have any fears that a student’s response is because they don’t understand what I’m asking them,” Nguyen said. “That is helpful. It’s clear their score is their score because they [do or] don’t know the answer, not because they didn’t understand what to do.
“On other intelligence tests,” she added, “[if] there’s a subtest that the kids don’t understand. They bomb completely. The examples confuse them. I’m grateful for the RIAS-2. It’s simple, straightforward direction.”
More than two years post-pandemic, most students are now back to in-person learning. However, school psychologists continue to be overwhelmed and understaffed—and an uptick in mental health and academic concerns means more referrals and more evaluations.
With a faster administration time, the RIAS-2 and RIAS-2 Remote can help them continue to work through their case loads quicker and meet the needs of all the children they serve.
“If the student for some reason is not able to come to school, it’s okay because they can do a portion of the evaluation remotely now,” Castillo said. “It’s another piece of mind.”
“I’m glad that we [will continue to] have the remote option,” Kendrick-Dunn said, “so we can make the best clinical decision based on the needs of the child.”
Learn more about remote assessment and using the RIAS-2 in one of our free PARtalks webinars available on the PAR Training Portal. Learn more about the development of RIAS-2 from coauthor Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD, in this video.
This is the third part in a series on the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR). Catch up on the first part here and the second part here.
The Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) stands out from other reading tests not only because it measures several aspects of reading and identifies likely dyslexic subtypes, but also because it provides targeted interventions based on a student’s strengths, weaknesses, and age.
“The FAR is able to say, This is what the kid is really good at in the area of reading, so that tells us we can play into their strengths to help them compensate for their weaknesses,” said Angela Hodges, EdS, NCSP, a school psychologist from Aiken, South Carolina. “It gives a much better diagnostic and even research-based assessment of reading than just basic reading comprehension or reading fluencies or word recognition.”
The FAR features 15 subtests that measure various aspects of reading, from vocabulary and phonological awareness to word memory and reading fluency. Detailed interpretations of index, index discrepancy, and subtest scores are provided in the FAR Interpretive Report, available on PARiConnect, along with targeted reading interventions based on current reading research.
“It helps me tell the team what to focus on in the special education IEP,” said Angela Hoffer, PsyD, NCSP, a school psychologist. “Sometimes, the recommendations or interventions become so general when you say, It’s a reading disability. … Knowing how they perform qualitatively on specific subtests on the FAR can help me with recommendations.”
“The big thing about the FAR is it gives so much more information about the different processes in reading,” Hodges said. “The more you know about the deficit, the easier it is to intervene.
“It helps teachers know where the gaps are and where they need to drill into those developing skills versus a universal screener, which just places a child in a ranking,” she added, “and gives us a clearer picture of the specific areas where the child needs help.”
A FAR Screening Form and FAR Screening Form Remote are also available.
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!
Note: This is the first in a series about using the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) to find out why students struggle with reading.
Several years ago, when Jacqui Veitch-Richie, a school psychologist in Aiken, South Carolina, wanted to evaluate students for reading disabilities, she cobbled together subtests from a variety of academic instruments to evaluate the things she knew were important to measure, like spelling skills and phonemic awareness.
“I actually put together what I considered a rubric of tests that I was separating out myself,” she explained. “There was no standardization, but I was getting samples of the child’s performance. I tried to pull out those processes separately the best I could.”
When a colleague learned what Veitch-Richie was doing, she suggested using the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) instead.
“She said, ‘that’s pretty much what the FAR does for you. You should take a look at it,’” Veitch-Richie, the District 504 Coordinator, recalled, “and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so wonderful!’”
Standardized achievement tests, commonly used by school psychologists for initial evaluations, don’t typically offer much beyond a reading score and a rating. And while they may indicate that a student has a problem with reading, they don’t explain why that student struggles—or provide ways to help.
“If all I’m showing is a weakness in reading, that doesn’t generate any kind of conversation,” Veitch-Richie said, “and it doesn’t give me the tools to help it or fix it any way.”
In contrast, the FAR comprehensively deciphers the neurocognitive processes responsible for reading—and measures them within the actual context of reading—to explain why a student may struggle with reading instead of merely reporting the level at which a child can read.
Another benefit of the FAR is its robust interpretive report, available only on PARiConnect. Along with student scores and score interpretation, it generates specific recommendations, based on those scores, along with resources designed to help educators develop their own tailored interventions.
“You have to know what you’re doing with your interventions and your remediation,” stressed Veitch-Ritchie. “I think that is what teachers are missing. What I’m starting to see with the FAR and the interpretive report is there are lots of interventions that we can use.”
Learn more at parinc.com/FAR
In primary care settings, it’s essential to quickly identify health beliefs and practices that may impact an individual’s health functioning. The Multidimensional Health Profile™–Health Functioning form (MHP™-H), designed for use in health-related settings, is now available for administration and scoring on PARiConnect.
The MHP-H consists of 69 items that provide information on five major areas of concern: adult health history, response to illness, health habits, health care utilization, and health beliefs and attitudes. Using the MHP-H can help you identify patients who may need more follow-up care, support, or assistance to improve their long-term health outcomes.
Psychological concerns can influence a patient’s vulnerability to physical illness, perceptions of their symptoms, patterns reporting, and compliance with medical advice. Furthermore, some individuals overuse medical services. A measure like the MHP-H can help you determine who may benefit from psychosocial interventions, preventive efforts, educational programs, and support groups to improve functioning and reduce health care costs.
Research supports the use of the MHP-H for gastric bypass evaluation; it can be used to determine if dysfunctional attitudes and health-compromising habits may influence recovery or use of services.
Learn more about the MHP-H on PARiConnect now!
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.
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.
This week’s blog was contributed by Maegan Sady, PhD, ABPP-CN. Maegan is a project director in PAR’s research and development department in addition to being a licensed psychologist and board-certified neuropsychologist. She worked as a pediatric neuropsychologist for nearly a decade before joining PAR.
As we emerge from the pandemic, the need for flexibility in assessment is here to stay. The only way to begin to combat socioeconomic and technological disparities is to offer more options, but how do we do it? Several themes on flexible assessment have emerged from what we learned during the pandemic, and PAR is ready to help.
Many psychologists have adopted a hybrid, in-person/telehealth assessment model, necessitating careful deliberation over personal and professional implications. Which tests can be given remotely, and what evidence is needed to make that decision? Which clients are a good fit for teleassessment? Which tests can be given while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE)? If we sit six feet away from our client, how do we indicate where to start on the response page? How do we assess patients who cannot travel and do not have high-speed internet? In essence, how can we answer every referral question without compromising our ethical obligations to our tests, our patients, and each other?
Thankfully, timely guidelines emerged from the American Psychological Association; the Inter Organizational Practice Committee, which focuses on neuropsychology; and a new book, Essentials of Psychological Tele-Assessment. More recently, journal articles are beginning to present viable models for teleassessment and hybrid practice, both generally and for special populations (e.g., older adults, pediatric medical patients, historically underserved populations). Evidence is building that testing remotely or with PPE can be valid for many tests and within many populations. A few articles even address the impact of teleassessment on trainees, with recommendations for supervisors.
Digital tools are more flexible
Whether you’re testing someone face-to-face, from the next room, or fully remotely, electronic materials make life easier. Digital versions of more than 150 test manuals allow you to access administration and normative information from your home office and clinic any day of the week. Digital stimulus books, available for some of PAR’s most popular tests, allow you to cut back on the number of items you’re transporting and cleaning. They also make it easier to switch to a new test in the moment. To provide full remote administration options, we modified or specially designed eight performance-based tests for remote administration, and indirect evidence supports the remote utility of multiple others.
To use these tools most effectively, you can find white papers and video demonstrations for digital and remote administration on our website. Our digital materials do not confine you to a single device type, and our E-stimulus books do not require Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
Screening as a model of care
With longer waitlists, pressure to assess more patients in less time, and more complex presenting problems, screening approaches are becoming more valuable. Screening can assist with triage, and doing so within a telehealth format has been shown to reduce wait times, increase satisfaction, and lead to more timely intervention and referral. Questionnaire-only assessment can be an efficient way to make treatment recommendations for patients with primarily emotional or behavioral concerns. More than 60 rating scales are available on PARiConnect as well as in print, meaning this evaluation approach can save time whether it’s executed remotely or in-person.
Screening in the context of a full evaluation allows you to cover more domains in less time. With 15 screeners/short forms of rating scales available on PARiConnect and several more in print, you can quickly add a measure of suicide risk, substance abuse, trauma, or depression to your battery. You can also use one of our performance-based screening tests to efficiently determine whether mental status, intellectual ability, or academic performance requires a closer look.
New presenting problems
In addition to new formats, testing is also changing in terms of content. Psychologists know all too well that the past two years have magnified or introduced multiple forms of stress and trauma, including anxiety, grief, effects of systemic racism, and food and housing insecurity. As a result, experiences of PTSD, depression, substance abuse, and parenting stress have increased. Adding a few extra measures to your test library is a good way to ensure you’re able to assess for a wide range of presenting issues.
With new procedures come new potential threats to validity. Practitioners must consider the integrity of testing remotely, in PPE, and under the general stress of a pandemic, in addition to more traditional considerations around effort and applicability of tests. There are creative ways to mitigate these threats, and we must document our efforts in our reports, citing limitations in interpretation where necessary.
Poised for success
In spite of challenges, psychologists have persisted. Testing settings are fluid, clinical conclusions have more caveats, and the list of areas for future research is longer than ever—but patients continue to depend on you. We have our work cut out for us, but together we can make psychological assessment more accessible, meaningful, and innovative.
Learn more about our digital assessment options.
This week’s blog was contributed by Melissa Milanak, PhD, PAR’s clinical assessment advisor–national accounts. 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.
It comes as no surprise we’ve seen a steady increase in mental and behavioral health concerns as our society continues to face challenges resulting from a global pandemic and ongoing social justice issues. This leaves many mental health providers questioning what they can do to positively impact those affected by this mental health crisis. Some patients and clients will have a clear presentation of symptoms and diagnosis. Many others may underreport, not realize there is any concern, or simply be on a slow decline, where small decreases in functioning go undetected over a prolonged period. This is compounded in those who have been isolated (whether they live alone or recently lost a companion), meaning they lack an accountability partner or someone to notice potentially harmful changes in mindset and behavior.
As these stressors persist, even the most resilient individuals are showing an increase in burnout and fatigue, a decrease in healthy behaviors like prioritizing quality sleep, and more frequent reliance on unhealthy coping strategies like an extra drink after work to try to unwind or induce sleepiness.
As individuals’ anxiety goes up, their mood goes down—and unhealthy ways of coping (such as drinking) increase. This in turn impacts and reduces the restorative abilities of sleep and can impair psychological factors such as memory, focus, concentration, and physical recovery. This cycle perpetuates as patients and clients feel more exhausted but continue to struggle to achieve relaxation and sleep.
Mental health providers need support in their efforts to stay connected with patients and clients. You may need to track mood and anxiety levels to detect early signs of symptoms, to allow for preventive strategies and interventions, and to provide ongoing progress monitoring.
To assist you in these efforts, PAR recently launched a new assessment product line, ChecKIT. With ChecKIT, you can quickly and regularly send industry gold-standard assessment measures for mood (Patient Health QUenstionnaire-9 [PHQ-9]), anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 [GAD-7]), alcohol dependence (Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test [MAST]), and depression (Geriatric Depression Scale–Short Form [GDS-SF]) to clients through a secure, HIPAA-compliant link. Tests are easy to complete, even on a mobile phone.
Though collecting qualitative reports from patients and clients is incredibly valuable, ChecKIT solutions augment provider sessions, allowing for more frequent monitoring. This enables you to effectively and efficiently identify which patients and clients may need follow-up sooner and to identify a disconnect between subjective experience and reporting and assessment scores.
Learn more about ChecKIT today!
Looking for additional mental health resources? Visit our mental health resources page.
This week’s blog was contributed by Theo Miron, PsyS. Theo is a licensed specialist in school psychology and a nationally certified school psychologist. He spent nearly 18 years providing psychological services to public school students in Minnesota, Arizona, and Texas.
School psychologists in the U.S. report that completing student assessments is the task they perform most frequently. These psychoeducational and psychological tests are based on the basic principles of measurement theory, standardized testing, and normal distributions. Practitioners receive extensive training in measurement theory—maybe even to the extent that their dreams are filled with visions of the normal or bell curve.
The normal curve is a fundamental concept psychologists use to help measure and explain student performance; that is, how a student functions in comparison to other children of the same age or grade level. We psychologists love to throw around the numbers associated with standard scores, percentile ranks, T scores, and scaled scores, knowing our fellow psychologists and well-versed teachers will know exactly what we’re talking about. Unfortunately, though, measurement theory is a relatively obscure field, so this type of language may puzzle parents, students, and clients.
During my first few years as a school psychologist, I struggled to find an effective way to explain these types of results. As a visual learner, I thought adding visual aids to my results meetings might help explain the information more clearly. So one year, I harnessed my inner artist and drew a nice normal curve with standard deviations clearly marked out. I then headed to the copy machine and generated a hundred more. During results meetings, I’d break out my box of colored markers and a ruler and start mapping out the standard scores from the different tests I had given, with the normal curve as the back drop. Once done, I’d have a few marked-up normal curves for each measure the student had taken.
Using these visual aids during results meetings helped both parents and teachers start to understand what the different scores meant. Not only did I receive some nice compliments on my “art projects,” but I also started noticing that more parents had questions and comments about the results. One parent explained she’d sat through several of these types of meetings over the years, but mine was the first one where she completely understood what the scores meant and how her child compared to other students his age.
These days, you can keep your art supplies in your drawer. Simply log on to PARiConnect, our online assessment platform, scroll to the Quick Links section in the bottom right corner, and click Interactive Bell Curve.
This new interactive tool allows you to enter relevant student data, and then add scores for up to three different tests on the same normal curve. You can enter the name of the specific assessment, the type of score you’d like to report (standard, scale, T score, or percentile), and up to 10 index or subtest raw scores. The system plots each score across the normal curve using vertical lines color-coded to the specific tests entered. When finished, you have a few options to explain results to parents, teachers, and clients: present “as is” on-screen, print out a paper copy, or print to a PDF file that can be presented (and shared) digitally.
The interactive bell curve is a free feature available to every PARiConnect user, and it can be used for any test on the market—not just those published by PAR. So put those markers away, log on to PARiConnect, and try it out yourself.
Interested in or have questions about other assessment products for schools? Visit our school resources page.