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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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As the new school year begins, PAR’s team of educational assessment advisors is ready to serve your school district. We can provide sample materials, conduct onsite or virtual trainings, and provide web-enabled presentations so you can better serve your students. Plus, we can  help create a cost-effective solution for your district by leveraging volume discounts and creating customized quotes. 

Need training for your school? 

Our team is available for onsite product-specific training and can arrange author presentations. It’s easy to arrange a PAR-sponsored workshop in your area. Workshops may also be given as webinars for smaller groups or to reach several sites simultaneously. 

Want NASP continuing education credit? 

PAR’s educational assessment advisors host a wide range of presentations and continuing education workshops via the PARtalks webinar platform. Our webinars and continuing education sessions are free! If you haven’t registered for our new PARtalks platform yet, it’s easy to do! Visit PARtalks for more information and to register for upcoming sessions.  

Interested in a customized quote for your district's order? 

Simply compile a list of the products you'd like to order, and then email the complete list to your assessment advisor. We'll generate a personalized price quote for the assessment materials you need and email it to you by the next business day. Your quote will include all applicable discounts and any reduced shipping rates for which your district qualifies. 

Questions? Simply contact your assessment advisor, and they will guide you through the process. If this is your first time working with an assessment advisor, call 1.800.331.8378 for more information. 

Seeking additional school resources or support? 

Your students will always need your help with various challenges, including behavioral, mental, social–emotional, interpersonal, adjustment, and learning difficulties. PAR offers many solutions to assist you and your students during the school year. 

We're ready to help! 

 

 

 

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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. 

During in-person assessment sessions, you're in control of setting up the physical environment to make it conducive to success. When you work with children and adolescents via telehealth, specifically for teleassessment, you provide not only clinical services but also  guidance to prepare younger clients for their remote sessions. Failure to do so can interrupt telehealth treatment or teleassessment, decrease remote participation and engagement, and jeopardize the ideal conditions needed to establish rapport and build a therapeutic alliance.  

Here are 10 tips to consider as you design and maintain a working teleassessment environment with children and adolescents. 

  1. Before your first remote session with your student, let them know what to expect. Replicate what you would do during an in-person session. 

  1. Before beginning teleassessment, ensure your client has all the materials they need. We developed a checklist to help you get started, available here

  1. Provide the client with a moment to adjust after entering the assessment space. Take your time. Children may need some time to orient themselves to the virtual space. 

  1. Assess the environment. Ensure your client is in a quiet and comfortable environment, has a clear working space, and has minimal distractions. Be proactive and develop a safety plan. 

  1. Establish boundaries and expectations. Expect the child or adolescent to come prepared for the session as if they were meeting you in person. 

  1. Consider factors unique to teleassessment—for example, age. For younger children, testing sessions may need to be shorter depending on the type of task the test requires. 

  1. Openly discuss technology and platform challenges. Discuss and plan for any challenges with internet connections and anything relevant to the platform you are using. 

  1. Discuss any concerns about teleassessment. Though many individuals are comfortable with technology and using devices in general, they may be fearful or lack confidence about engaging in telehealth. 

  1. Consider your physical environment and telehealth setup. Mimic your in-person setting as much as you can. Maintain neat dress, minimize distractions, display a clean background, use sufficient lighting, and have your technology devices and materials ready. 

  1. Relationship is key! Go back to the basics. What helps you establish rapport when you're in person? Apply some of the same strategies when using telehealth. 

 

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In primary care settings, it’s essential to quickly identify health beliefs and practices that may impact an individual’s health functioning. The Multidimensional Health Profile™–Health Functioning form (MHP™-H), designed for use in health-related settings, is now available for administration and scoring on PARiConnect.  

The MHP-H consists of 69 items that provide information on five major areas of concern: adult health history, response to illness, health habits, health care utilization, and health beliefs and attitudes. Using the MHP-H can help you identify patients who may need more follow-up care, support, or assistance to  improve their long-term health outcomes.

Psychological concerns can influence a patient’s vulnerability to physical illness, perceptions of their symptoms, patterns reporting, and compliance with medical advice. Furthermore, some individuals overuse medical services. A measure like the MHP-H can help you determine who may benefit from psychosocial interventions, preventive efforts, educational programs, and support groups to improve functioning and reduce health care costs.

Research supports the use of the MHP-H for gastric bypass evaluation; it can be used to determine if dysfunctional attitudes and health-compromising habits may influence recovery or use of services.

Learn more about the MHP-H on PARiConnect now!

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This week’s blog was contributed by Melissa Milanak, PhD. Melissa is a licensed clinical psychologist and internationally recognized academic. She has extensive clinical experience providing therapy and conducting assessments with a diverse array of patient populations. 

Learning more about assessment products can improve our ability to provide the best care for our clients, patients, and students. However, continuing education can also directly relate to other professional duties, such as keeping our license current and educating trainees. 

For example, when your job is to train future providers, having accurate, easily accessible resources not only saves time but also engages trainees in new and exciting ways. PAR’s Training Portal features product-specific videos, resources, and practical applications that can provide hours of didactic support for trainees. These tools are also ideal for established providers who want to learn more about a new product or get a refresher on an instrument they might not have used recently. PAR’s Training Portal is completely free of charge and available on demand, 24/7. New content is added regularly, so it’s good practice to check back frequently for information relevant to your practice. 

You can easily put products into practice using the 40% discount we offer on training materials that provide hands-on, practical experience. With PAR’s University Partnership Program (UPP), you can determine the tests that best fit your syllabus and get access to concierge support to design your own training (including PowerPoint slides, free test kits, and products), along with student discounts and faculty research discounts. 

In addition, as a licensed provider, you must receive continuing education (CE). Though requirements can seem arduous and tedious, it’s important for you to continually learn about the tools and practices that can best help your patients and clients—and it can often be an exciting way to learn about what’s innovative and new in the industry. Even gold-standard assessments are updated and renormed as the literature grows and new insights are uncovered. The key as a provider is to balance relying on the assessments we know and love and have served us well (and helped many of our patients and clients over the years) while also keeping current with updates and edits, new product offerings, and useful new applications of our reliable tools! 

PARtalks, our webinar platform, offers a vast array of CE sessions on products and applications. Featuring experts from a variety of backgrounds and topic areas, as well as insight from product authors and knowledgeable PAR staff, our webinars cover many topics relevant to psychological practice. Check out PARtalks frequently to see what webinars are coming up and which offer CE credits. And if you miss a live session, head back to the PAR Training Portal to view a recording. 

Whether you are working with trainees or looking to further your own education on a topic, PAR offers a number of options to help you! 

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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. 

 

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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! 

 

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This week’s blog was contributed by Maegan Sady, PhD, ABPP-CN. In addition to being a licensed psychologist and board-certified neuropsychologist, Maegan is a project director in PAR’s research and development department. She worked as a pediatric neuropsychologist for nearly a decade before joining PAR. 

 

Psychological assessment allows for three types of clinical decisions: diagnosis, treatment planning, and measuring change over time. Assessment involves integrating information from multiple sources—tests, rating scales, observations, and interviews—to answer a given referral question and provide recommendations. 

To best serve clients and patients, providers should engage in evidence-based assessment (EBA; related terms include evidence-based medicine, evidence-based practice, empirically based assessment, and evidence-based instruments). EBA relies on scientific knowledge to help providers make clinical decisions. Although EBA has been a longstanding goal in psychology, clear documentation of EBA standards has been in place for only the past 15–20 years. 

Choosing reliable, valid assessment tools is the foundation of EBA. Basic psychometric strengths include representative normative samples, strong internal consistency, sound construct validity, and test–retest statistics (built-in change metrics are a bonus!). Because validity applies to the use of a test for a specific presenting problem in a particular individual, studies using discriminant function analyses and base rates identify the clinical utility of tests for given populations. 

To use an EBA approach, ask: What tools can I use to rule the proposed diagnosis in or out? For which related conditions do I need to screen? What else do I need to know about this client to recommend an appropriate treatment? Which tests are sensitive to change in the constructs being targeted? 

Increasingly more tools are available to providers to address real and perceived barriers to practicing EBA. Special issues of journals are devoted to using EBA for various conditions, books contain systematic reviews of instruments, and professional organizations have position papers on topics including serial neuropsychological assessment and effort/malingering. 

To keep up with advances in research relevant to your practice, create Google Scholar or PubMed alerts to generate periodic emails (use search terms like “evidence-based assessment,” “meta-analysis,” or “systematic review,” along with key disorders) and organize the literature in a free citation manager. For an informal approach, follow known researchers and EBA gurus and join social media groups for your clinical interests. Subscribe to professionally focused podcasts and queue up relevant episodes for your next commute, walk, or hammock session. 

At PAR, we aim to propel the growth of EBA by working with our customers to make it easier to search for information about tests and to collaborate on clinical data repositories. Visit the PAR data collection page for more information. 

Browse parinc.com/resources for training and supplemental materials, put our products to the test in your clinical research, and reach out to us if you have data on clinical samples. Though the initial adoption of EBA practices takes time and effort, you’ll see the results via more precise decision making and buy-in from clients. It’s never too late to jump on the bandwagon! 

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