The measurement of Executive Function (EF) difficulties is a hot topic in assessment these days. This issue of The PAR Connection is designed to help school psychologists define EF and understand the critical factors to consider when choosing an EF measurement instrument—an instrument that will provide the information they need to design effective interventions that target a student’s specific needs.
Executive Function is a multi-dimensional construct that is responsible for managing cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functions. EF affects planning, decision making, abstract thinking, cognitive flexibility, rule acquisition, initiating appropriate actions, and inhibiting inappropriate actions. It is particularly important during active, novel problem solving. EF is an important component of how individuals function at home, in school, and at work. For many students, its impact is greatest at school, where they are required to transition from one task to another. A large body of research shows a strong link between EF and how students perform in the classroom (Clark, Pritchard, and Woodward, 2010).
There are many excellent resources for families, school personnel, and others who work with young people who have Executive Function problems. For parents, a good choice is Late, Lost and Unprepared: A Parent's Guide to Helping Children with Executive Functioning by Joyce Cooper-Kahn, PhD and Laurie Dietzel, PhD. School personnel should consider Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention by Peg Dawson, ED and Richard Guare, PhD. LDOnline (www.ldonline.org), a website about learning disabilities and ADHD, includes a series of articles about helping children with EF problems tackle everyday challenges such as managing homework and curbing inappropriate behavior.
Developed by pediatric neuropsychologists who routinely work with parents and children in their practice, the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function® (BRIEF) is:
“The BRIEF was designed by outstanding clinicians working with parents to meet a clinical need,” says Elaine Fletcher-Janzen, EdD, NCSP, ABPdN, Associate Department Chair of School Psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. “It became the gold standard for understanding how executive functions translate into behavior in the real world and continues to be the measure with which all newcomers seek to correlate. The BRIEF forged a way for us all to incorporate these kind of data into the comprehensive examination—the perfect example of translational neuropsychology at work!”
The BRIEF family of products includes assessments at the preschool, school-age, adolescent, and adult levels. The BRIEF Software Portfolio can be used to score the BRIEF and generate reports with intervention recommendations. To learn more, visit www.parinc.com to see all of the available options in the BRIEF family of products.
PAR’s Test of Executive Control (TEC) is a recent addition to the EF toolkit. The TEC uses a novel approach to EF assessment that looks at two fundamental components of EF: working memory and inhibitory control. Visit www.parinc.com to learn more about how the TEC can work for you.
Clark, C.A.C., Pritchard, V.E., & Woodward, L.J. (2010). Preschool executive functioning abilities predict early mathematics achievement. Developmental Psychology, 46(5), 1176-1191.
Gioia, G. A., Isquith, P. K., Kenworthy, L., & Barton, R. M. (2002). Profiles of everyday executive function in acquired and developmental disorders. Child Neuropsychology, 8(2), 121-137.
From its modest beginnings in Bob and Cathy Smith's home years ago, PAR has grown into a leading publisher of psychological assessment materials designed to help our Customers better serve their clients.