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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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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.

  • Use with confidence. Proven to be equivalent to the paper-and-pencil version.
  • Get the same results in less time. Indicates risk for dyslexia using phonological and comprehension subtests in just 12 minutes.
  • Ensure your students’ safety. Stay socially distant and safe while testing via teleconferencing.
  • Boost your ability to flexibly serve students. Screen for reading ability from a distance in a variety of circumstances, even beyond pandemic needs.
  • Easily learn to administer. Learn more in the available technical paper and white paper.

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.

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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!

We’ll be looking for you in Baltimore! 
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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.  



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Last year we posted a blog about our commitment to provide our Customers with additional sources of information about our products through a series of white papers.

Since that time, we’ve released a number of new white papers that are available to you at no cost.

The Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function–Preschool Version (BRIEF-P). This resource helps readers learn about enhanced interpretation of the BRIEF-P, complete with illustrative case samples. You can find the new white paper under the Resources tab on the BRIEF-P page or via this direct link.

The Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). This white paper provides you with insights into the creation and use of a research repository for the PAI. Customers can find the new white paper under the Resources tab on the PAI page or via this direct link.

The Self-Directed Search (VeteranSDS). This white paper explains how the VeteranSDS report and other tools can be used to assist military veterans transitioning to civilian careers. The new white paper can be found under the Resources tab on the SDS page or via this direct link.

The Feifer Assessment of Reading and the Feifer Assessment of Mathematics (FAR and FAM). This resource will help you learn more about using built-in skills, error, and behavior analyses to assist in the development of more effective reading and math interventions. To see this new white paper, go to the Resources tab on the FAR or FAM page, or use this direct link.

The PDD Behavior Inventory (PDDBI). A new white paper explains the process and rationale behind the release of the Spanish translation of the PDDBI Parent Form. The new white paper can be accessed under the Resources tab on the PDDBI page or via this direct link.

We hope you find that these documents enhance your use of our instruments. Watch for more white papers in the future!  

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The Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) is a comprehensive reading assessment that uses a neurological approach to determine if a student is at risk for specific subtypes of dyslexia. It is useful for educators, reading specialists, and school psychologists not only because it identifies a possible cause of reading difficulties—but also because it offers intervention recommendations based on the student’s specific type of reading difficulty.  It truly helps put the individual back in an Individualized Education Program.

The new FAR Interpretive Report takes this individualized approach a step further, using scores from all 16 FAR tasks as well as index scores and index discrepancy scores to provide targeted reading considerations and strategies based on research from more than 200 current reading programs. Don’t spend hours researching reading strategies and intervention tools–we’ve done the work for you! With the click of your mouse, you have the information you need to help your students succeed.

Save even more time by copying and pasting report recommendations directly from the FAR Interpretive Report into other documents.

The FAR Interpretive Report is available only on PARiConnect, our online assessment platform. Not yet connected? Sign up now and get your first three administrations and reports for free!

Learn more about the FAR.

During the next month, PAR will be offering free Webinars on many of our newest products. Whether you have already begun using these assessments and are seeking a deeper understanding of the science behind the test or you are considering adding the assessment to your professional library, these Webinars will offer insight into the measure, explain administration and scoring details, and assist in interpretation. Each Webinar will give you the opportunity to ask questions and interact with knowledgeable PAR staff.

If you’ve been wondering about PAR’s newest assessments, take this opportunity to learn more!

Space is limited, so register today!

Introduction to the Academic Achievement Battery (AAB)–Screening Form
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
2:30 to 3 P.M. ET
Register here
Assess four areas of achievement throughout the life span

Introduction to the Academic Achievement Battery (AAB) –Comprehensive Version
Thursday, September 29, 2016
1 to 2 P.M. ET
Register here
Assess seven areas of achievement throughout the life span

Introduction to the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales, 2nd Edition (RIAS-2)
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
1 to 2 P.M. ET
Register here
Assess intelligence and its major components

Introduction to the Child and Adolescent Memory Profile (ChAMP)
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
1 to 2 P.M. ET
Register here
Assess visual and verbal memory in children, adolescents, and young adults

Overview of the Feifer Assessment of Reading
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
1 to 2 P.M. ET
Register here
Examine the underlying cognitive and linguistic processes that support proficient reading skills

Introduction to DBR Connect
Thursday, September 15, 2016
12 to 1 P.M. ET
Register here
Rate student behavior in minutes

Register today! Space is limited!
We recently sat down with Steven G. Feifer, DEd, author of the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™) and Feifer Assessment of Mathematics™ (FAM™) for an interview to discuss how to use cognitive neuroscience to better understand why students struggle in school. This is the second part of a two-part interview. Did you miss Part 1? Catch up here.

How do the FAR and FAM go beyond just using an aptitude/achievement discrepancy perspective?

SF: The FAR and FAM represent a more ecologically valid way to understand the core psychological processes involved with both reading and mathematics. Many psychologists are used to measuring executive functioning, working memory, visual perception, and processing speed using stand-alone instruments, and then must clinically bridge these results into the worlds of reading and math. In other words, how does poor performance on executive functioning tasks impact the ability to read on grade level? These can be very difficult questions to answer.

The FAR and the FAM seek to measure these psychological constructs while the student is actually engaged in the academic skill itself, allowing the examiner to directly determine the impact of each neurocognitive process on the academic skill itself. Typical achievement tests are important to determine where a student is functioning with respect to a nationally normed sample, but the FAR and FAM were designed to explain why. This is the key to really bringing back the “I” into an “IEP,” so practitioners can more readily inform intervention decision making.

Do the instruments give you a reading/math level?

SF: Both the FAR and FAM give you an overall composite score, but the true value of these instruments lies within the factor scores. We chose grade-based norms due to the variability of ages in each grade and thought it was only fair to compare a student’s performance with students in the same grade-level curriculum. In other words, it did not seem fair to compare a 10-year-old in the 3rd grade with a 10 year-old in the 5th grade with two more years of formal instruction.

Academic skills should be based upon the current grade level of the child, especially when we have an educational system where 43 of 50 states follow a common core curriculum. If practitioners are uncomfortable with grade-based norms, there is a conversion by age proxy table included.

Do you need a neuropsychology background to administer and/or interpret any of these instruments?

SF: I think you need a reading or math background to administer and interpret these instruments, which is why these are B-level qualification instruments.  This means most teachers can readily administer the FAR and the FAM. It is not necessary to understand the neuroscience behind each learning disorder subtype, but it is necessary to understand the learning dynamics involved with each skill. For instance, most educators readily understand the role of phonics, fluency, orthography, and comprehension in reading. The FAR can catalogue the relative strengths and weaknesses within each of these processing areas to best inform intervention decision making.

To learn more about the FAR or the FAM, visit their product pages.
We recently sat down with Steven G. Feifer, DEd, author of the Feifer Assessment of Reading™ (FAR™) and Feifer Assessment of Mathematics™ (FAM™) for an interview to discuss how to use cognitive neuroscience to better understand why students struggle in school. This is the first part of a two-part interview. Come back next week for the conclusion.

 

What influence did neuroscience and research in this area have on your work in test development?

Steven Feifer: I have spent most of my career as a school psychologist trying to coalesce the fields of neuropsychology and education. I suppose it stemmed from my utter frustration in trying to explain learning simply through the lens of an IQ test score. After all, when was the last time somebody wrote a meaningful goal and objective on an IEP because a psychologist said a child’s Full Scale IQ was 94?

Why was an instrument like the FAR needed?

SF: The FAR was created for a number of reasons. First, I am especially grateful to PAR for recognizing the need for an educational assessment tool based upon a neuropsychological theory: the gradiental model of brain functioning. Second, I think the FAR represents a new wave of assessment instruments that does not simply document where a student is achieving, but explains why. This allows practitioners to better inform intervention decision making. Third, with the reauthorization of IDEA in 2004, school psychologists and educational diagnosticians no longer have to use a discrepancy model to identify a learning disability. However, most examiners are a bit leery about switching to a processing strengths and weaknesses model because of the sheer complexity and loose structure of this approach. The FAR identifies the direct processes involved with reading and makes the process easy without having to rely on a cross battery approach. Lastly, many states have now required schools to screen for dyslexia in grades K-2. The FAR Screening Form is ideal to function in this regard.

How did using a brain-based perspective guide you when developing the subtests and subtypes for the FAR and the FAM?

SF: I have conducted more than 600 professional workshops worldwide to both educators and psychologists. Most educators readily understand that there are different kinds of reading disorders, and therefore different kinds of interventions are necessary.

By discussing reading, math, or written language from a brain-based educational perspective, I try to point out specific pathways in the brain that support phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, comprehension, and other attributes inherent in the reading process. I also illustrate what a dyslexic brain looks like before an intervention and then after an intervention.

Cognitive neuroscience greatly validates the work of our educators and reading specialists. In addition, cognitive neuroscience also provides the foundation for various subtypes of reading disorders based upon the integrity of targeted neurodevelopmental pathways.

Come back next week for the second part of this interview!

 
Are you headed to New Orleans for NASP? Be sure to stop by booth #306. PAR will be there to demonstrate PARiConnect, show you how to access our free online Training Portal, and give you a hands-on look at our latest products.  The following PAR authors will be at the booth to answer your questions:

The following PAR authors will be presenting at the conference. Make sure to check out these can't-miss sessions:

  • Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales™ (RIAS™-2): Development, Psychometrics, Applications, and Interpretation (MS061), Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD, Wednesday, February 10, 12:30 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.

  • The Neuropsychology of Mathematics: Diagnosis and Intervention (MS057), Steven G. Feifer, DEd, Thursday, February 11, 8 a.m. to 9:50 a.m.

  • Unstuck and on Target: An Elementary School Executive Function Curriculum (MS155), Lauren Kenworthy, PhD, Friday, February 12, 8 a.m. to 9:50 a.m

  • DBR Connect™: Using Technology to Facilitate Assessment and Intervention (MS140), Lindsey M. O’Brennan, PhD, and T. Chris Riley-Tillman, PhD, Friday, February 12, 4 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.

  • Concussion Management Skill Development for School-Based Professionals (DS006), Gerard A. Gioia, PhD, Friday, February 12, 1 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.

  • Introducing the BRIEF®2: Enhancing Evidence-Based Executive Function Assessment (WS038), Peter K. Isquith, PhD, and Gerard A. Gioia, PhD, Saturday, February 13, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.


Plus, all orders placed at the PAR booth during NASP will receive 15% off as well as free shipping and handling!

Follow PAR on Facebook and Twitter for updates throughout the conference!

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