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. Today she imparts a little advice on how stepping away has helped her create balance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lately, it seems like we’re stuck in a stanza from Billy Joel’s hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
Toilet paper, “Tiger King,”
PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING!
Wearing masks, stay on task,
DO NOT LEAVE HOME!
It’s pretty shocking to think that what we’re going through right now will be in history books for students to read about in awe and, hopefully, not in recognition. Being in Florida, we’re used to having to hunker down for hurricanes and dealing with power outages from what seems like a tiny summer storm. This, of course, is on a totally different level—the kind of level that can be overwhelming. Well, I have some advice:
STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. STEP AWAY FROM THE TV.
Seems simple, right? Not so fast. If you’re like me, you want to know what is going on in the world and even your neighborhood. You want facts, data, information! Lately, though, it’s been a bit too much. Commercials are even referencing COVID-19, so you don’t even get a break when the show you are watching takes one. Is the information we’re getting even correct? Does anyone really know what they’re talking about? Separating fact from fiction is more frustrating than ever, it seems. So, just step away (but not like out of your yard, though, unless you are wearing a mask). I’m really just saying take a break from it all in any way that you can. Turn off the electronics. Pick up a pen, take a walk, take some pictures, take a break from it all.
I’ve had to embrace my inner introvert since this started. Around the three-week mark, I had to step away. For a full day, I didn’t so much as look at my phone. This was so helpful and really made me feel a lot better about myself, my family, and what we are doing to stay safe. After that day, I made an effort to balance my time. Think of a work–life balance situation but make it more of a COVID–no-COVID balance. Also, let your support group be your support group. Reach out and commiserate. Then, just step away for a bit.
PAR prides ourselves on providing the very best Customer service in the test publishing industry. Here’s a peek into how our Customer Support team has adjusted our services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lauren Williams, Customer Support Specialist II: Customer Support has made some really great efforts in alleviating stress from our Customers in any way that we can. Aside from continuing regular services, we’ve also started to offer digital manuals for every printed manual purchased in the past. It’s also been really great having the opportunity to assist Customers with remote testing and teaching them about all the great aspects of PARiConnect.
Julia Klein, Customer Support Specialist II: I think most of us have become more in tune with our Customers, understanding their tone of voice, recognizing the stress or anxiety they may feel and altering how we speak or how fast we talk though something. Matching pace has probably been the most beneficial during the current climate to working with our Customers.
Kim Doscher, Customer Support Specialist: The current situation has created an immediate switch to telehealth that has brought along a whole new technological world for many of our Customers. These are unprecedented times that generate many questions and concerns. Our focus is on talking to our Customers and listening to their needs so that they can continue serving their clients. Whether it be learning how to use our online platform PARiConnect, navigating remote administration, or figuring out how to access our materials digitally, we are here to help!
Tamara Dwoskin, Customer Relationship Manager: Our Customer Support department has really adapted to what’s going on, staying on the pulse of what our Customers are asking for. We’re intent on developing creative solutions for what they need. A lot of folks were caught very unexpectedly with this pandemic, like we all were, and they are in pickles with what they are trying to accomplish, whether it’s training students as part of a university class, or maybe they had assessments scheduled and now they have to switch to teletherapy to get those things done. It’s on us to talk them through it. We want to be with them every step of the way if we can and develop those creative solutions that will really carry them through and help them accomplish their goals. We are up for that challenge. We already had the infrastructure to offer the support that’s needed during this time frame and we’re adding more as time goes on. We are constantly looking to how we can evolve to better meet the needs of our Customers. We’re here. We’re here for you. We’re here to listen. So call us and give us a chance to assist you at some point!
The COVID-19 crisis has changed the world as we know it. On a professional level, social distancing and safer-at-home guidelines mean that many practitioners are now using the internet and other technologies to stay in touch with their patients, clients, and students.
Although they can no longer come into the office, older patients with conditions causing cognitive impairment or dementia still need to be evaluated and monitored. Many of these patients may not be familiar or comfortable with video chatting or other common online tools.
The Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS) can help. In clinical and research use for more than 30 years, the TICS was the first measure developed specifically for remote cognitive assessment. It provides a quick and easy way for clinicians to screen patients and clients for cognitive impairment and has proven itself in hundreds of studies and clinical trials. It has also been translated into several foreign languages and is available for licensing.
“The TICS is meant for remote assessment,” said test coauthor Jason Brandt, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Even if you can’t see the patient in person, you can still get an indication if he or she is having difficulty thinking, remembering, or communicating.”
Consisting of just 11 items, the TICS takes about 10 minutes to administer by telephone. A family member or other proctor is required to be with the examinee to ensure the environment is appropriate for testing. An S-level product, it can be administered by anyone with appropriate training, including nurses and trained research assistants. Results are reported using a qualitative impairment range and T scores.
With the current constraints of COVID-19, checking up on elderly patients who have or are at risk of having cognitive impairment is essential. “In just minutes,” Brandt said, “the TICS gives you a snapshot of the person’s cognitive functioning and allows you to make more informed clinical decisions.”
Learn more or order.
As everyone is aware, COVID-19 continues to be of significant concern in the U.S. and worldwide. We want to assure everyone that we are closely monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the Federal Government to ensure we are following their recommendations to protect the safety of our staff, Customers, and partners.
As part of these measures, we are discouraging all business travel into the foreseeable future.
In response to the recent outbreak in Florida, PAR has implemented our emergency response procedures. To protect the health and safety of our staff, we have put in place a remote working schedule for most of our team members. We do not anticipate any interruptions in service and will continue to provide the same best-in-class Customer support you have come to expect.
While this is an unprecedented moment, it’s important that we approach it with a sense of calm and responsibility.
In the meantime, please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.
With great appreciation, Kristin
It’s a simple reminder, but a powerful message. At PAR, we strive to live by these values. It’s part of our culture.
be kind. We are kind when we treat people with respect and compassion, when we offer support and sympathy, and when we help in ways large and small.
do good. We do good by helping others as we can and by contributing resources to our communities.
We want to promote these values around the world—one sticky note, note pad, bookmark, and thank you note at a time—as a reminder that sometimes doing the little things can make a big difference.
Each year, PAR will contribute a minimum of $25,000 to its bkdg fund, and all profits from the sales of our be kind. do good. merchandise will be added to this account. These funds will be donated during the year to organizations that are doing good things.
We invite you to help spread our be kind. do good. message in your community. Learn more or order now!
With several students each day to evaluate, assess, and refer, your time is at a premium. Finding time to score assessments, interpret results, and write reports is never easy, but your job is to help students on the path to academic success, so you do what it takes.
The Feifer Assessment of Mathematics (FAM) is a comprehensive assessment of mathematics that determines if a student is at risk for dyscalculia. It is useful for educators, math specialists, and school psychologists not only because it identifies possible neurodevelopmental causes of math learning difficulties—but also because it offers intervention recommendations based on a student’s specific areas of strength and weakness. It truly helps put “individual” back into your IEP.
A new Interpretive Report—available only on PARiConnect—uses the power of the FAM to get your students the help they need and saves you valuable time.
After entering scores from a FAM administration, the report generates a detailed score summary and profiles that you can easily copy and paste into your own report; comprehensive interpretations of all FAM indexes, index discrepancies, and subtests; targeted math intervention strategies and programs based on your student’s age and unique profile of strengths and weaknesses.
With quick scoring, thorough interpretation, and tailored recommendations, the FAM Interpretive Report saves you time and helps you get your students on the path to math success. Volume pricing is available.
When you need to measure visual organizational ability in patients or clients with traumatic brain damage or central nervous system compromise, you need a tool that’s not only reliable and valid but also one that uses clear and realistic illustrations, one with up-to-date normative data, and one that requires low motor demand.
Identi-Fi is a new measure of visual organizational ability that can be used to assess the effects of traumatic brain injury or central nervous system compromise, monitor recovery following a brain injury, evaluate visual perceptual or processing skills deficits (as seen in some reading disorders), determine right hemisphere dysfunction, and measure visual attention.
It was conormed with the Trails-X, a measure of adaptive planning and executive function, and standardized with individuals ages 5 to 79 years. Normative data is representative of 2017 U.S. Census statistics, and percentile ranks, T scores, z scores, normal curve equivalents, and stanines are available.
Unlike similar measures, Identi-Fi features two subtests. The Visual Organization subtest requires the examinee to view a series of cut-up, puzzle-like images and identify what each would be if assembled. Visual Matching uses the same cut-up images but provides a series of foils for each from which the examinee must choose the correct assembled image. Administration takes only 10 minutes.
Designed with large, full-color stimuli that feature modern illustrations, Identi-Fi is more salient to current populations and more adaptable to mildly visually impaired individuals. And without the confounds that accompany similar tests (such as the rapid assembly of physical puzzle pieces) Identi-Fi is an easier-to-interpret and more accurate measure of visual organization.
It’s time for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Convention. This year’s event will take place February 18 to 21 in Baltimore and PAR will be there. If you’re going to NASP, please stop by the PAR booth (#413) to visit us. You can see samples of our products, pick up some giveaways, and enter a raffle to win a BRIEF2 or FAR kit!
While you’re at NASP, make sure to attend some of the many presentations being hosted by PAR authors. For a complete listing of sessions, dates, and times, see our author presentation schedule.
Yet another reason to visit the PAR booth—we will be offering special discounts on all purchases made at our booth during NASP. You’ll save 15% on your order plus we’ll include free ground shipping!
One of PAR’s core values is to give back to the community, and our dedicated staff provide time and resources to a variety of causes. This blog is the first in a series about what drew our staff members to become involved with various charities. Today’s blog focuses on Jim Eddy’s relationship with Trinity Café.
When he was in high school, PAR Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jim Eddy’s mother left for good. Soon after, his father decided to leave town. He told Jim he had minutes to move out. Suddenly, Jim found himself without a home.
The youngest of five children, he needed to find a way to support himself, so he walked into First Florida Bank in Fort Myers looking for work.
“Gotta eat; need a job,” he told them. They walked him into the computer room—which no one in the bank wanted to learn. He didn’t know how to operate a computer, either, he told them. A woman pointed to some manuals nearby and told him, “That’s what the big books are for. You better start reading.” That was the day Jim started on his career path in computers.
About six years ago, Jim, who came to PAR in 2013, learned about Trinity Café. A program of Feeding Tampa Bay, Trinity Cafe is a free full-service restaurant for those in need. Seven days a week, guests take part in a restaurant-style experience, complete with a three-course meal. Volunteers serve, act as hosts, and bus tables. Trinity Café’s message resonated with Jim, and he organized a group of volunteers from PAR—known for its commitment to community—to serve. Today, Jim spearheads a group from PAR to make the trip to Trinity Café three times each year.
“You do a lot of things and often never see the outcome,” Jim said. “At Trinity Café, you serve and you see the outcome as you do it. It’s not abstract.” Jim believes that many other PAR staff members continue to volunteer at each opportunity because they can see how their work helps someone in an immediate way.
“My career has been fast-paced and I’ve raised a family with my wife Shari,” said Jim, who sees his involvement with Trinity Café as one way to integrate his strong Christian faith into the workplace, “but it limited my time to help others. It bothered me that I wasn’t able to do more. If you aren’t helping others, then faith is meaningless. PAR makes it easy to help others.”