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For more than 100 years, the 11th day of the 11th month has been set aside as a day to recognize and honor America’s servicemembers—it’s a day to publicly say “thank you” to all living veterans—all ages, all ranks, all branches, all years.  

At PAR, we recognize that freedom is not free and we thank America’s service members for their dedication, bravery, and courage. We would also like to acknowledge PAR employees who have spent time in uniform: Adam Barrett-Clarke, Teri Lyon, Mike Nolan, and Greg Schmitt.  

We know veterans can face unique obstacles while serving and after separation or retirement from the military. Several of our assessment tools can help you better serve those clients and patients. The Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) evaluates a broad range of disorders, including PTSD, anxiety and depression, and substance use. The Trauma Symptom Inventory-2  (TSI-2) evaluates the effects of traumatic events including combat, sexual and physical assault, abuse and neglect, and more. And for those service members who aren’t sure how they should follow their military careers, this Veteran SDS white paper can help you help them find a rewarding career.  

 

 

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The week of November 7–11 is National School Psychology Week (NSPW). Being a school psychologist has always been crucial, and given the current shortage of school psychologists, along with increasing demand for your services, your role is more demanding—and important—than ever. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, here are some resources and supports that may help.    

Sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the theme for NSPW this year is “Together We Shine.” The events of the past few years have led to disconnection and even isolation. While we each have an inner light, when we work together, we can shine brighter to help others in our schools and in our communities. 

Here are some suggested activities for NSPW: 

Counselors: Help students see the power of working together by focusing on these skills. 

  • Help students develop their social and active listening skills. 

  • Engage students in discussions about building self-esteem and confidence. 

  • Encourage students to develop social connections. 

Schools: Offer additional activities that emphasize togetherness. 

  • Hold a scavenger hunt, asking students to find someone who makes a positive contribution to the school. 

  • Initiate classroom discussions that encourage active listening, and discuss how different opinions can lead to enlightenment. 

  • Inspire students to express gratitude by having school administrators, teachers, and staff model the behavior. 

PAR would like to thank all school psychologists for the essential services they provide to their students, and for placing your trust in our instruments. 

Looking for more information about PAR school resources and assessments? Visit our school resources page

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November may conjure up images of colorful leaves, cornstalks, and turkey, but, for the past 57 years, it has also been National Career Development (NCD) Month. 

Championed by the National Career Development Association (NCDA), the purpose of NCD Month is to focus on activities that can help individuals find, grow, or change career paths. Career professionals, students, and employees are encouraged to engage in a variety of activities like career workshops, résumé refinement, and career exploration and awareness.  

Here are some activities for individuals interested in promoting career development: 

  • Participate in NCDA’s annual poetry and art contest, which promotes career development. 

  • Encourage students to dress up for their dream careers for a day. 

  • Hold a career fair. 

  • Help students or employees update their résumés. 

  • Inform students about job shadowing opportunities, internships, and tours. 

  • For businesses, set up a mentor program for your employees. Encourage your staff to be mentors or get a mentor. 

For career professionals (or any professional looking to provide career guidance to clients or students), the Self-Directed Search is a time-tested career assessment tool that matches an individual’s aspirations, activities, and talents to the career choices and educational opportunities that fit them best.  

To learn more, visit self-directed-search-com. 

 

 

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One of PAR’s core values is to give back to the community. We participate in many special events during the year that benefit organizations in the Tampa Bay area. Here’s a look at some of the activities and events PAR staff have participated in recently. 

In August, PAR CEO Kristin Greco participated in the 2022 CEO Soak to raise money for the ALS Association Florida Chapter. The event, which took place at ZooTampa, raised more than $50,000 to help raise awareness and funds to support those living with and impacted by ALS.  

In September, PAR took part in our annual United Way campaign. We had 100% staff participation and exceeded our fundraising goal—raising $113,278 in staff contributions to benefit those in need in the Tampa Bay area. Visit unitedway.org to learn about United Way in your area. 

In October, a group from PAR joined a sold-out crowd of animal lovers for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay’s annual gala fundraiser, Tuxes and Tails. This black-tie event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars while finding homes for adoptable dogs and cats from the shelter. 

Also in October, a team from PAR participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Raymond James Stadium. The walk benefits the Alzheimer's Association, the largest voluntary health organization benefitting Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The team raised $8,300 to support those living with Alzheimer’s. 

We are so grateful to be able to give back to our community with our time, energy, and resources. To learn more about what we are doing to make a difference in the Tampa Bay area, visit our Community PARtners page. 

 

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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. 

  

 

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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! 

 

 

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Each year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and other advocates sponsor activities related to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), dedicated to educating the public about mental illness, including issues such as available treatments and methods of support.   

This year’s theme for MIAW is “What I Wish I Had Known.” Individuals who have dealt with mental illness will have an opportunity to share their lived experiences, with an emphasis on learnings that could have helped them if they’d known them sooner. You can view videos from people sharing these experiences.  

Other organizations such as Mental Health America (MHA) also have events planned during the week, including a free webinar on navigating barriers to treatment. NAMI Minnesota is offering a free week-long series of classes on various aspects of mental illness.  

When you are looking for solutions to help your clients, patients, or students facing mental illness, PAR has a wide variety of mental health resources that can help across constructs.  

 

 

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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 

 

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PAR is proud of our ongoing support of United Way Suncoast. For more than 20 years, PAR staff have taken part in an annual fundraising campaign. We hosted our 2022 fundraising drive last week, where we spent time learning more about the impact United Way has on our community and taking part in team challenges and interdepartmental games.

We are thrilled that we had 100% staff participation and exceeded our fundraising goal—raising $113,278 in staff contributions to benefit those in need.

In the Tampa area, United Way aims to break the cycle of generational poverty through initiatives targeted at education, literacy, financial education, disaster services, neighborhood programs, and strategic community partnerships. We were fortunate to have leaders of our local United Way visit this week and share the impact our donations have had on our community.

Want to learn more about how you can help United Way where you live? Visit unitedway.org.

 

One of PAR’s core values is to give back to our community. Learn more about some of the ways we do that throughout the year.

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Suicide is a major mental health concern that devastates lives and causes unimaginable pain. In fact, in 2020, suicide was the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S., with nearly 46,000 people dying this way. What can we as mental health professionals do to help conquer this issue? 

We need to understand better the clinical reasons behind the decision to commit suicide. Suicide doesn’t have a clear etiology, and many factors influence whether a person will become suicidal, including their neurobiology, personal and family history, stressful events they may have experienced, and sociocultural environment. However, suicide can be viewed as “a behavior motivated by the desire to escape from unbearable psychological pain.” Psychological factors, including personality and emotions, also contribute. Interestingly, decision-making impairment seems to be an increasingly important influence. 

It's critical that we promote within our own organizations and communities the fact that suicide is preventable. Years ago, researchers found that almost half of people who commit suicide visit a primary care doctor within 1 month of death but don’t admit to or consult with the doctor about any suicide intent or ideation. Many people who commit suicide are social and active—they are struggling under the surface and do not seek help.  

September 5–11 is National Suicide Prevention Week. This week, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) encourages everyone to put the topic of suicide prevention top of mind. Make sure your patients, clients, and students know about suicide risk factors, warning signs, and what they can do to prevent suicide. And be sure to emphasize the new three-digit phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline—made active across the country in July: 988. 

For more information about what you can do this week to promote suicide prevention, visit this site.  

If you are treating patients and need more information about tools you can use for assessing suicide intent, visit our mental health resources page. 

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, you are not alone. Dial 988 to reach the Suicide Prevention Lifeline for immediate help, 24/7. 

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