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St. Cloud School District Story

School psychologists use digital clinical assessments, increasing student engagement

St. Cloud Area School District 742, Minnesota

School psychologists in the St. Cloud Area School District 742, a large district in Minnesota, administer clinical assessments to approximately eight hundred students a year. To save time and increase efficiency, they decided to switch from paper-and-pencil to digital assessments.

In the 2015–2016 school year, District 742's nine psychologists began using Q-interactive® from Pearson, an iPad®-based system for administering and scoring clinical assessments, and Q-global®, a web-based platform for scoring paper tests and administering online questionnaire-type tests.

Q-interactive is now the district's primary tool for intellectual testing, although it still uses paper and pencil for a few clinical assessments not on the digital system. The main tests the district administers on Q-interactive are the WISC-V®, WPPSI™-IV, and the WAIS-IV. It primarily uses the BASC-3™ rating scale on Q-global.

According to Tyson Zitzow, one of the school psychologists and the district EL evaluation consultant, and Patrick Russell, another school psychologist, the two digital systems have a number of key benefits for practitioners and students:

1. Save time. Zitzow estimated that using Q-interactive saves him 30 minutes per test. He saves 10 minutes by administering a digital clinical assessment instead of a paper-and-pencil version. The system's automatic scoring saves him another 20 minutes since he no longer has to hand-score tests. He also appreciates that "with a click of a button," he can generate reports.

Russell emphasized the convenience and efficiency of using the BASC-3 on Q-global. He estimated that by using the online rating scale instead of a paper form, he has cut his administration time by 20 percent.

By spending less time on the assessment process, Zitzow and Russell now have more time to provide information to the teachers who support students. They've gained time to observe struggling students in the classroom, review outside data on students, and do teacher consultations.

2. Adjust test batteries during administration. Compared to paper-and-pencil administration, Q-interactive makes it more efficient for psychologists to get an accurate picture of a student. That's because the system provides real-time scoring and enables psychologists to adjust test batteries as they administer clinical assessments.

"I really like that you can edit your battery on the fly," Zitzow remarked. Describing his experiences testing a student earlier that day, he said, "I just clicked 'edit' and added two subtests and got additional information that will really help me with my interpretation."

3. Increase student engagement. "I love the WISC-V on Q-interactive because it causes the student to be more involved in the testing itself," Russell said. "I was actually just testing a student last week, and when he sat down and saw the iPad sitting there, he was all excited. 'Wow, I get to use the iPad?' He just couldn't wait to start."

According to Zitzow, "the iPad helps engage all students because most students are visual learners by nature." Looking at just a screen on an iPad, as opposed to a whole test booklet, also reduces stimuli, "which is helpful for many students who are easily overwhelmed."

"Q-interactive saves me time, the students are more engaged, and it's more efficient."-Tyson Zitzow, School Psychologist and District EL Evaluation Consultant, District 742

Zitzow recognizes that switching from paper-and-pencil to digital assessments is a huge change for psychologists. But he urges them to make the switch. The information District 742's psychologists are gaining about students by using the digital systems is more reliable, he observed. By standardizing the administration of clinical assessments, Q-interactive makes test results more accurate. Prompts that pop up as practitioners administer tests and timers for timed subtests help ensure that practitioners are following testing protocols. The automatic scoring prevents practitioners from making scoring errors. Because assessments are "very structured on the iPad, it helps things to be more valid," he explained.

"The whole reason we're in the field that we're in is because we want to support kids," Zitzow said. "If there's a way we can do that and get more accurate results, then we really need to be doing it."

To learn more about how school psychologists and students are benefiting from digital clinical assessments in District 742, read the full success story.

Read for full success story