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.
Already the most reliable platform in the industry, PARiConnect continues to grow by adding features that complement your online practice.
One of our newest additions to PARiConnect is the introduction of the interactive bell curve, where you can personalize the interactive bell curve, input multiple scores, quickly assess and visually capture how a client scores in relation to others, and easily explain assessment results to clients/parents. The interactive bell curve can be accessed within the PARiConnect Quick Links section.
Another new feature is the Digital Library. The Digital Library is an online location within PARiConnect that stores all e-Manuals purchased from PAR in one convenient place. Simply log into your PARiConnect account to access all your materials. Once you are logged in, you can find the Digital Library under the Quick Links section. Now you can easily access your materials from most internet-connected devices.
Plus, we’ve added new assessments to the platform, like the Dementia Rating Scale—2™ (DRS-2™), Brief Visuospatial Memory Test—Revised™ (BVMT-R™), the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test—Revised™ (HVLT-R™), the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test® (WCST®), and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test® 64-Card Version (WCST-64™).
Don’t have a PARiConnect account? Register for free and get 3 free assessments and reports.
Want to learn more? Join Daniel McFadden for a free webinar on the Digital Library and the ChecKIT family of products on February 10. Register here! Can’t make this one? We have other PARiConnect tutorials and webinars located on our Training Portal. Sign up or login for free.