When schools shut down in 2020 due to the pandemic, millions of children, parents, and teachers found their worlds upended. Without kids in school, school psychologists were unable to test students who had been referred for special education services. Initial evaluations and re-evaluations piled up. Students, many of whom needed academic accommodations and interventions, were unable to receive the help they needed.
“We paused [testing], like everyone else in the country,” said Tina S. Nguyen, PhD, a school psychologist with Washington, D.C., public schools. “Initially, we thought it would be a few weeks. But eventually, we realized we couldn’t just not do these assessments.”
The scenario was similar for Tiombe Bisa Kendrick-Dunn, SSP, MS, NCSP, the district psychology chairperson for Miami-Dade County, Florida, public schools. “We did no evaluations at all between March and July ,” she said.
Both school districts began using the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales, Second Edition Remote (RIAS-2 Remote), which was published in July 2020.
Developed specifically to support school psychologists and clinicians who need to test students and clients from afar, the RIAS-2 Remote features minimally modified and digitally packaged components. It’s administered using a videoconferencing platform, and a 2018 study showed equivalency with the paper-and-pencil version.
Nguyen had used the RIAS-2 prior to the pandemic, so, for her, “it was a no-brainer to continue to use it,” she said. “We couldn’t determine eligibility without the information. The RIAS-2 Remote allowed us to evaluate these kids. Otherwise, we would have had to table [the evaluations] or do them without all the components.”
Norma Castillo, MEd, assistant director of special education for the Clint Independent School District in El Paso, Texas, also ordered the RIAS-2 Remote that summer. With a backlog of referrals to work through and new referrals coming in, she needed a trusted tool that her team could use to reach students and get them the services they needed.
“Without the RIAS-2 Remote, we would have waited [to test],” Castillo said. “I didn’t feel comfortable using a test that wasn’t meant to be used in any other way and have the diagnosticians write in their reports that they used a test the way it wasn’t meant to be used. The nice thing about the RIAS-2 Remote is that you don’t have to do that. It’s RIAS-2 Remote. It was great.”
The quick administration time for the RIAS-2 (less than 30 minutes for intelligence assessment) can help school psychologists reach more students in less time and work through their backlog of evaluations.
“I have so many assessments to do,” Nguyen said. “It’s easier for me to get through them with the RIAS-2 Remote. It’s a time-saver.”
Kendrick-Dunn said the RIAS-2 allows her to complete more evaluations per day. “I have used it more than I typically would for children who have been referred for the gifted program, specifically because of the time,” she said. “Other tests can take 90 minutes to 2 hours. I can do the RIAS-2 in half that time.”
“It’s quick,” agreed Rachael Donnelly, MA, AC, NCSP, a school psychologist with Anne Arundel County, Maryland, public schools. “There are other things I could be doing, like working directly with students or in consultation with teachers.”
In addition to being faster, the RIAS-2 also has fewer motor demands and language requirements, making it a more accurate test of intelligence. This was one of the authors’ goals during development.
“It is not necessary to include motor-dependent tasks to assess intelligence accurately.” said co-author Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD. “Intelligence tests should emphasize thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving.”
“The RIAS-2 is just as good a measure of cognitive ability and overall full-scale IQ than any other test that maybe has a million manipulatives that may impede or impact the validity,” Donnelly said. “It does a good job of measuring intelligence purely.”
With straightforward administration and clear directions, school psychologists also find that the RIAS-2 is easier for students to understand, giving them confidence that results are valid.
“I never have any fears that a student’s response is because they don’t understand what I’m asking them,” Nguyen said. “That is helpful. It’s clear their score is their score because they [do or] don’t know the answer, not because they didn’t understand what to do.
“On other intelligence tests,” she added, “[if] there’s a subtest that the kids don’t understand. They bomb completely. The examples confuse them. I’m grateful for the RIAS-2. It’s simple, straightforward direction.”
More than two years post-pandemic, most students are now back to in-person learning. However, school psychologists continue to be overwhelmed and understaffed—and an uptick in mental health and academic concerns means more referrals and more evaluations.
With a faster administration time, the RIAS-2 and RIAS-2 Remote can help them continue to work through their case loads quicker and meet the needs of all the children they serve.
“If the student for some reason is not able to come to school, it’s okay because they can do a portion of the evaluation remotely now,” Castillo said. “It’s another piece of mind.”
“I’m glad that we [will continue to] have the remote option,” Kendrick-Dunn said, “so we can make the best clinical decision based on the needs of the child.”
Learn more about remote assessment and using the RIAS-2 in one of our free PARtalks webinars available on the PAR Training Portal. Learn more about the development of RIAS-2 from coauthor Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD, in this video.
This week’s blog was contributed by Carrie Champ Morera, PsyD, NCSP, LP. Carrie is a licensed school psychologist and the lead project and content director at PAR.
The increased use of telehealth—including teleassessment—has changed psychological assessment practices. Although many of us have adjusted our assessment practices to keep up with the times, we have to keep in mind that, when engaging in teleassessment, our practices must be ethical—just as if we were providing in-person assessment services.
Here are 10 ethical considerations for practitioners to consider when providing services via teleassessment.
1. Obtain informed consent. Just as you would do with in-person assessment practices, obtain informed consent prior to providing telehealth services. Informed consent is more than a form—it’s a process.
2. Train and practice. Carefully review standardization procedures for the assessment. Practice the assessments several times using the technology and platforms with which you plan to administer them.
3. Consult with colleagues. Talk about ethical dilemmas with colleagues, consult the literature, and continue to update your ethical guidelines. It’s important to lean on one another for practice, support, and guidance.
4. Follow the publisher’s guidelines. PAR developed a statement on telehealth that addresses test security and measurement concerns. The integrity and security of the tests must always be maintained.
5. Keep forms and data secure. Make sure paper protocols and electronic forms are stored securely. Consider password protections, encryption, and malware protection and keep backups.
6. Establish and maintain professional boundaries. It can be tempting to relax your professional boundaries in a telehealth setting. Dress professionally, reduce distractions, and set clear expectations with your clients.
7. Consider cultural factors. Consider the implications for clients from traditionally marginalized backgrounds or various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds or those with less computer experience.
8. Document the use of digital and remote assessments. Include a statement in your report that assessment was conducted via telehealth. Record any technical issues, and disclose any modifications or alterations of standardized procedures.
9. Consider the psychological effects of the pandemic in digital and remote assessment. We’ve seen a general increase in anxiety, depression, grief and loss, and isolation. Go beyond scores and evaluate individual item responses. Stressors all contribute to these psychological effects, perhaps now more than ever.
10. Take advantage of PAR resources. We have many teleassessment resources and a wide selection of products available for administration, scoring, and/or interpretation on PARiConnect—and we are always adding more! Need to brush up on your teleassessment skills? Check out this video from PAR’s Director of Customer Support, Daniel McFadden, or visit the PAR Training Portal for more insight. You can use PAR products via telehealth technology while retaining the integrity and security of the measures. PAR has several tools available to help you navigate this challenge.
Digital options to help us complete the work we do are increasingly important as digital interactions become more common in psychological assessment. We at PAR are committed to helping you serve your clients and recognize your increasing need for digital materials. Digital assessment options (like online and remote products, e-Stimulus Books, and e-Manuals) offer several benefits, including improved flexibility and support for your practice—whether you work in school, hospital, private practice, or other settings. Digital solutions can also provide increased accessibility and security in addition to environmental benefits like reduced use of paper.
We want to provide you with more options for test administration (e.g., on-screen vs. paper-and-pencil) while reducing the number of materials you need for administration and addressing concerns about hygiene with printed materials. We are expanding our library of e-Manuals, e-Stimulus Books, and remote assessment tools and adding more products offering administration, scoring, and interpretation via PARiConnect. We now offer more than 100 e-Manuals, which are easily accessed from our new Digital Library in PARiConnect. These digital versions of PAR professional manuals are also downloadable (limited to a single user and device). See our full list of e-Manuals.
Our In-Person e-Stimulus Books allow for easy, safer administration of stimuli via tablet and are designed for in-person testing sessions. Convenient and user friendly, these digital tools provide flexibility and confidence in testing and are hygienic and easy to clean. Visit parinc.com/e-stim to see what’s new. We also offer remote tests designed to be administered via videoconferencing. Learn more about our remote assessment solutions.
Finally, our online assessment platform, PARiConnect, allows you to administer and score tests from most internet-connected devices. Designed in strict adherence with HIPAA, this flexible tool is adaptable for any organization, from small, solo practitioners to large, multilocation groups. More than 75 assessment tools are currently available, and we are continually adding new products. New to PARiConnect? Get three free uses just for signing up.
No matter your setting, we have a digital solution that can help take your practice beyond paper and pencil!
An Interpretive Report for the Dementia Rating Scale–2™ (DRS-2™) is now available on PARiConnect. The DRS-2 measures mental status in adults with cognitive impairment and assesses an individual’s overall level of cognitive functioning.
The DRS-2 Interpretive Report provides:
Save money and valuable clinical time by letting PARiConnect handle scoring and interpretation of your DRS-2 administrations without the investment of purchasing the entire software program.
Don’t have a PARiConnect account? It’s easy to sign up—plus you get three free administrations and three free reports! Learn more.
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:
The interactive bell curve can be accessed within the PARiConnect Quick Links section.
Don’t have a PARiConnect account? Register for free and get 3 free assessments and reports.
Whether you are new or experienced PARiConnect user, Director of Customer Support Daniel McFadden will teach you tips and tricks to help you get the most out of PAR’s online assessment platform.
On Thursday, February 4, new users can get a real-time tour of the platform. This webinar is ideal for users who are just getting started.
On Friday, February 5, users who are looking to delve deeper into the lesser-known features of the platform will get an opportunity to learn time-saving shortcuts and understand advanced settings and options.
Furthermore, both sessions will introduce users to the newest features on PARiConnect—the interactive bell curve and Digital Library!
Register now for these free webinars! Space is limited.
Administration and scoring for the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) is now available on PARiConnect! The WCST assesses perseveration and abstract thinking, and is considered a measure of executive function due to its reported sensitivity to frontal lobe dysfunction. Now with the WCST on PARiConnect, you can assess for executive functions in a way that fits your practice and your patient’s needs. Plus, the WCST on PARiConnect allows you to:
Practice social distancing by administering remotely.
Save valuable clinical time by letting PARiConnect score for you.
Choose 64- or 128-card version—one inventory gives you added flexibility!
Know that research has demonstrated general equivalence between computerized and card administration of the WCST.
Now you can purchase the quantities you need without the expense of software or licenses! Learn more about the WCST on PARiConnect!
Earlier this year, PAR welcomed A. Jordan Wright, PhD, for a webinar concerning best practices in teleassessment. Dr. Wright is the Director of the Center for Counseling and Community Wellbeing at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, where he also coordinates the psychological assessment curriculum in the Counseling Psychology program. He is the author of the upcoming Essentials of Psychological Tele-Assessment. As teleassessment has become an increasingly important part of many clinician’s lives, we are republishing selected questions posed by webinar attendees looking for ways to incorporate teleassessment into their practices. For a full list of the questions asked of Dr. Wright and his responses, click here.
Q: What are your thoughts about using personal protective equipment (PPE) during assessments? If we use PPE, is it okay to change the order in which subtests are administered?
A: Currently, we have absolutely no research into the potential impact of using PPE on the data that emerge during an assessment. Remember, the more you veer off from standardized administration, the greater the threat to validity. So, changing the order of subtests adds one large variable that changes standardized administration procedures. PPE adds another (and in a way that is likely to be quite significant).
Q: My school district is asking us to only report confidence intervals due to breaking standardization with PPE during in-person testing. What are your thoughts on only reporting confidence intervals?
A: Because we know there are not systematic effects of teleassessment, confidence intervals are helpful (they can remind us and readers that scores are imperfect). However, with PPE, we don’t have research studies to confirm where children's scores would likely fall, so even confidence intervals can be misleading.
Q: Is there a disclaimer about teleassessment that could be used in reports? Is there specific language that should be used to make it more legally defensible when doing teleassessment?
A: Mine is evolving. Here's the gist of the language I include: 1. It should be noted that the evaluation was conducted using teleassessment (remote) procedures. 2. It is known that administering tests in this way may have some effects on the validity of the data that emerge from the tests. 3. However, the teleassessment was conducted in alignment with the best and most current research evidence to elicit data that constitute a valid representation of the client's functioning.
Q: In your experience, how are teleassessment reports received by schools, testing boards like ETS, etc.?
A: Many school districts have developed their own rules. Check with your school district and the state psychological associations in your state. Advocacy is a role that we as psychologists need to take on so kids can get resources they need. If a school district or company has a blanket statement that they will not accept teleassessments, work toward educating them about the evidence base of conducting teleassessments.
Q: What information can we share with parents, families, and schools about equivalence and validity?
A: We have reviewed the current state of equivalence/validity research across all tests for the Essentials of Psychological Tele-Assessment book. It is of course fair and ethical to discuss the limitations of the evidence base with the interested parties. But you can also summarize the current state of support (for the most part, across IQ and achievement tests, research has shown very little, if any, impact of conducting testing remotely on scores that emerge).
Q: What’s your best advice when remote testing ELL students with chaotic settings at home (lots of siblings, distractions, limited ability from parent to support)?
A: This is really tough, and it's a social justice issue. Obviously, we cannot only provide services to those with “perfect” home environments. A remote, in-office setup is one way that we can balance the safety of tele-assessment with better controlling the environment. If you set up an office with a laptop, any manipulatives and response booklets, etc., and have students come into that office to do their remote assessment, this provides a much more controlled environment. This is also the solution when students/clients do not have access to the necessary technology (e.g., a stable internet connection).
Want help with remote and teleassessment? We can help here!
Want to view the entire webinar? Visit the PAR Training Portal!
Have you tried the new PARiConnect 3.0? Now PARiConnect isn’t just the most reliable platform in the online assessment industry, it is the fastest, as well! Plus, its new intuitive design and upgraded features make it the platform you enjoy using! We’ve taken Customer feedback and used it to make the platform even better for you! Here are a few features that we’ve added:
Group clients to keep organized! PARiConnect allows you to create groups of clients. Organize clinicians with their own client rosters, as well.
Change labels as needed. Account settings allow you to customize the labels used throughout the system to better suit your purposes. Personalize terms like client or student, depending on your setting.
Filter your caseload easily. New filter capabilities allow you to easily search by assessment, Client ID, name, and more!
Save your favorites. Save your most-used assessments under My Favorites and quickly access the tools you use most.
Established users can sign right in to your account to see the upgrades for yourself. All client data and inventory has transferred over seamlessly. New users can get started with 3 FREE uses. Simply sign up!
To learn more about PARiConnect 3.0, view an on-demand video tour now or read more about the new features.
We can’t wait for you to try it for yourself!
PARiConnect isn’t just the most reliable platform in the online assessment industry, its new intuitive design and upgraded features make it the platform you enjoy using! Here are five things you should know about the updates we’ve made to make your experience even better!
1. Updated home, client, and report screens. An improved home screen offers a quick view of your most recently added clients as well as links to the most commonly used functions. For Account Supervisors, PARiConnect 3.0 offers a new page that allows you to view the entire client roster in aggregate across all clinicians. Finally, an enhanced report screen provides easy access to completed reports. This screens offers the ability to filter and sort by client name, client ID, group, report, assessment, and test date range.
2. New e-mail templates. You now have the ability to save e-mail templates for future use. This feature is available to all users with the ability to assign assessments. The ability to save a user's chosen settings for future e-mailed assessments has also been added.
3. Multi-client assessment abilities. All users will now have the ability to assign a single assessment to multiple clients at the same time. This new feature will help to accelerate the assessment process, particularly when e-mailing assessments.
4. Search for assessments. A more streamlined filter was added to the Assess page, which allows users to type in the name of a client or an assessment. Furthermore, selecting all will display all assessments and forms available on PARiConnect; selecting My Favorites will display the assessments you have selected to appear in that list.
5. Assessment filter abilities. A more streamlined filter appears on the Assess page. This allows you to view your client or group list alphabetically or by date created.