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
We’re happy to welcome a new member to the Feifer family of products. The only remote dyslexia screening tool currently available, the FAR Screening Form Remote is a digital adaptation of our trusted dyslexia screener, designed specifically for testing your students when you’re apart.
Visit the PAR Training Portal for an in-depth demonstration of FAR Screening Form Remote administration, hosted by Dr. Feifer.
To learn more or to order, click here.
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. She enjoys punk music and painting.
I like to watch CBS Sunday Morning every weekend. Recently, I watched a segment on the prevalence of dyslexia in the prison population, which immediately caught my attention. Working at PAR and knowing Dr. Steven Feifer, I know how important it is to diagnose dyslexia and other learning disabilities early so a student can achieve his or her full potential. What I did not realize are the numbers behind this issue.
The segment told of a study that shows almost 50% of the prison population in Texas has dyslexia. In addition, approximately 80% of inmates are functionally illiterate. The segment went on to talk about how prisons are addressing this issue with more funding and prison reform. Although these things certainly help people in prison lead better lives, this does not prevent these individuals from ending up there in the first place.
Although this is not a case where you can throw money at a problem, we do know that schools in more affluent communities have higher test scores and graduation rates. While the parents and students may have more resources and may not have concerns like how to study while hungry, you can’t ignore how much better they do. Recently, the thinking on spending in education has changed. Studies show significant long-term gains for students when educational spending increased. The issue is that districts need to determine the best way to use their money.
Currently, the U.S. spends more on prisons than we do on education. California alone spends $53,147 more per year on a prisoner than it does a student. Overall, there are 15 states that spend more than $27,000 a year more per prisoner than they do per student.
Even with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), there are kids who fall between the cracks of education and into the justice system. It’s clear that this issue is multifaceted and complicated. From starting mandatory schooling at an earlier age, to better training for teachers, there are many ways this issue can be addressed. One thing is clear, though, we have to start somewhere.
I think it’s important to take a step back and realize how PAR instruments can help with greater societal issues. Because this is such an important topic, I immediately sent letters to both my congressman and senator letting them know my thoughts. Hopefully, this will get a very important subject the attention that it deserves.
Teachers and parents have long known that when students are diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, tailored reading interventions and accommodations can help them achieve academic success. However, until a few years ago, there were few legal mandates that defined how (or if) schools should screen for dyslexia and implement interventions. Many students with dyslexia were not being identified, and many of those students who needed help still weren’t getting it.
In 2013, only two states required universal screening for dyslexia in schools. Now, thanks in part to a push for mandatory early screening tests, teacher training, and remediation programs from the grassroots group Decoding Dyslexia, there are only five remaining states that don’t have dyslexia legislation that’s either been passed or is pending.
One of the most common elements of these laws is the implementation of universal dyslexia screening and intervention. However, dyslexia is not a one-size-fits-all reading disorder–there are different subtypes with different symptoms that require different interventions. It is important to screen all students for dyslexia—but it’s just as important to screen accurately to ensure appropriate intervention.
The Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) Screening Form measures phonemic awareness, rapid automatic naming, and semantic concepts and indicates risk of dyslexia in just 15 minutes.
For students who need a more comprehensive evaluation, the FAR's 15 subtests evaluate four specific subtypes of reading disorders: dysphonetic dyslexia, surface dyslexia, mixed dyslexia, and reading comprehension deficits. Dyslexia is a brain-based disorder, and the FAR uses a brain-based approach to measure the underlying cognitive and linguistic processes that support proficient reading skills and inform diagnosis. The available FAR Interpretive Report scores all subtests and includes detailed interpretations and targeted reading interventions based on the student’s age and scores.
Learn more on our free training portal and help your struggling students go FAR.