Parental experience as a function of therapeutic assessment-infused versus standard practice school-based psychological assessment of their child

Fowler, Johnathan Leas
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This dissertation investigated the effects of infusing therapeutic assessment practices into school-based psychological assessments on parent experience. Fourteen assessment professionals from a medium sized public school district in central Texas were assigned to one of two groups based upon previous exposure to Finn’s Therapeutic Assessment (2003) model. Those in the Therapeutic Assessment-infused (TA-I) group were trained on collaborative assessment concepts, while those in the standard practice group were asked to conduct assessments as usual, while being required to conduct initial and feedback meetings with parents. Outcomes were measured using the Parent Experience of Assessment Survey – I (PEAS-I), Parents’ Positive and Negative Emotions (PPNE), the Experience of School Investment and Collaboration Scale (ESICS), and post-interviews with parents and assessors. Parent ratings from both groups were compared using a MANOVA. It was hypothesized that parents in the TA-I group would report having learned more, more positive parent/assessor and child/assessor relationships, more collaboration with the assessor, less negative emotion related to the assessment, and a higher perception of family involvement in their child’s problems. Parents in the TA-I group were also hypothesized to report a greater sense of home-school collaboration and school investment in their child. Finally, it was proposed that parents in the TA-I group would report feeling more positive and less negative about their child’s future. The group difference was not statistically significant, due in part to limited sample size. However, small to medium effect sizes were achieved for several outcome scales, including parents’ positive emotions following participation, positive parent-assessor relationship, and parental sense of collaboration throughout the assessment. An exploratory measure indicated a significantly greater sense of future collaboration with their child’s school for parents in the TA-I group. Post-participation interviews indicated clear appreciations of the TA-I model. Parents experiencing standard practice assessments, however, also expressed high satisfaction, though the requirement of two face-to-face parent meetings may have contributed to a notable departure from standard practice. Results suggest that infusing TA-I practices into school assessments may be effective in increasing parental satisfaction and home-school collaboration. Further research is warranted, and discussion of potential improvements for future research is provided.