• raise lab

    Research on Assessment and Intervention to Support Equity

  • Our mission statement

    “The mission of the Research on Assessment and Intervention to Support Equity Lab is the empirical pursuit of evidence-based practices for the promotion of socio-emotional and academic outcomes for all children. Infused within all of our work is the advancement of social justice, leadership development, and focus on systemic change processes.”


    Lab Manual

    Current Projects

    Development of Assessment Tools and Educator Training to Support Tier 2 Behavioral Intervention Selection

    Funding Source: Institute of Educational Sciences (Goal 5)

    In partnership with: University of Missouri at Columbia

    & Hillsborough County Public Schools

    Purpose: The overarching purpose of this 4-year project is to support the development and validation of two Tier 2 problem identification tools, which together comprise the Intervention Selection Profile (ISP) suite of tools (see below). We are currently in year two of this project and will be conducting various educator trainings in local school districts in the Spring based.



    The ISP-Skills will inform the adaptation of instructional interventions to student needs by detecting acquisition deficits within three broad skill domains: Social Skills, Academic Enablers, and Emotional Competence.


    The ISP-Function is a brief functional assessment tool (5 items), intended to support the adaptation of contingency management interventions to student needs via the determination of the function of problem behavior.



    2017-2018: Develop and refine the two ISP tools, as well as the decision making structures upon which they will be founded. Development efforts will be guided by item response theory (IRT) and diagnostic classification modeling (DCM) procedures (Rupp & Templin, 2008).


    2018-2019: Identify the most efficient yet effective approach to training teachers to collect and use ISP data. Studies will examine varying approaches to teacher training, including basic exposure, as well as training with practice and performance feedback.


    2019-2020: Through single-case design studies, we will evaluate the extent to which interventions that are individualized to a student based on ISP data are more effective than generic or randomly assigned interventions.


    2020-2021: Through a randomized control trial (RCT), evaluate the treatment utility of ISP tools and the broader ISP procedural framework. Of specific interest will be the extent to which ISP tools affect student behavioral and academic performance in conjunction with universal screening tools.



    Teacher’s emotional health matters: A mixed-method study of the contextual influences on psychosocial wellbeing among first year teachers in urban schools

    Funding Source: Spencer Foundation

    In partnership with: University of California, Los Angeles

    & Pasco County School District

    Research Questions:

    (1) Are there variations in teacher wellbeing through the day, week, and month at school?

    (2) What are the environmental conditions that are associated with teachers’ psychosocial functioning?

    Design: This study will collect intensive individual real-time longitudinal data using a mobile electronic device (i.e., smartwatch) throughout the day (three times per day), week (Monday through Friday), and month (across four weeks), for a total of maximum 60 ratings per teacher. At the conclusion of the real-time data collection period, teachers will rate themselves on a variety of psychosocial dimensions. In addition, research assistants will conduct 30-minute observations one time per week (varying days and times) for four weeks, for a total of four observations per teacher.


    Spencer: In the spring of 2018, the RAISE lab conducted systematic direct classroom observations of first-year teachers while simultaneously collecting real-time emotional health responses as part of a grant from the Spencer Foundation. The team is working hard on generating a follow-up interview protocol to obtain richer data about how first-year teachers reflect on their experiences and classroom practices. We hope to conduct these interviews in the spring of 2019.





    A Model of Trauma-Informed Mental and Behavioral Health Service: Implementation in the School District of Philadelphia

    Funding Source: ScatterGood Foundation and the National Institute of Justice

    In partnership with: Devereux Center for Effective Schools

    Purpose: We propose to increase availability of evidence-based preventative, mental and behavioral health intervention, as well as improve access to such approaches for vulnerable children and families via technical assistance and professional development for educators.


    Objectives: At present, SDP does not engage in universal screening for mental and behavioral health needs and CBH does not systematically evaluate the effectiveness of provided services. Thus, a primary function of this project will be to provide training for educators and technical assistance for schools in the implementation, data analysis, and use of data to inform intervention decisions via universal screening using the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS).


    An additional function of this project is to provide teachers with specific in-service professional development that is aimed at (1) improving overall classroom structure, (2) promoting the use of preventive behavior management strategies (3) encouraging active engagement, and (4) self-management. Teachers will be trained in skills such as increasing opportunities to respond, active supervision, providing behavior-specific praise, and structuring transitions.


    NIJ: As a part of a multi-site study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the RAISE lab is working to provide training and capacity-building on implementing and supporting School-wide Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (SWPBIS), classroom PBIS, and trauma-informed care through sustainable universal screening initiatives. The lab is building modeling flowcharts for data-based decision making processes for universal screening, in addition to creating an online platform to train educators in universal screening for social-emotional, behavioral, and academic skills. This project is through a collaboration with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), the School District of Philadelphia, and the Devereux Foundation's Center for Effective Schools (CES).





    Continuous Validation of the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavioral Risk Screener - Student Report Scale (SAEBRS-SRS) and the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavioral Risk Screener - Teacher Report Scale (SAEBRS-TRS)

    In partnership with: Wichita Public Schools, Upper Merrion School District, & University of Washington-Tacoma "Whole Child Initiative"

    Purpose: Specifically, the purpose of this study is to use data from the SAEBRS assessment administrations to determine the degree of convergence between the student and teacher SAEBRS forms. Such information will permit our evaluation of the degree to which each form contributes unique and valuable information to the detection of behavioral risk among students. It is expected the study will further justify the use of SAEBRS screeners in school settings.



    • Continuous validation and examination of stability of SAEBRS Scores
    • Do SAEBRS scores differentiate success of the Second Step curriculum? 
    Upper Merrion:
    • Initiation of a universal screening program using the SAEBRS
    • How can schools be supported in the process of implementation of universal screening?
    University of Washington-Tacoma "Whole Child Initiative"

    Development and Initial Validation of a Multidimensional Test Anxiety Instrument

    In partnership with: Dr. David Putwain at Liverpool John Moores University

    Purpose: The purpose of this research project is to develop a new test anxiety scale. This scale uses a multidimensional approach to identifying test anxiety (physiological, emotional, and social), and specifies temporality (anxiety before, during, after the test) to facilitate evidence-based intervention. The new test anxiety instrument may provide valuable data on when and how to intervene for test anxiety therefore supporting a number of UDSD priorities and programs by helping students to maximize test performance. The instrument is intended to be completed once, and will take students approximately 5 to 8 minutes to complete.





  • Meet Our lab members

    Dr. Nate von der Embse

    Dr. Nate von der Embse is an assistant professor of school psychology at the University of South Florida and co-chair of the National Association of School Psychologists Government and Professional Relations Workgroup (NASP GPR). Nate utilizes a social justice framework to examine the intersection of education policy and school mental health. His research program is focused in three primary areas, including:

    (1) An examination of teacher stress and student test anxiety surrounding high-stakes exams;
    (2) The development and validation of behavioral and mental health screening tools;
    (3) The training of teachers and schools in population-based assessment methods to inform tiered and targeted intervention.
    Nate completed his educational specialist degree in school psychology from Miami (OH) University and a school-based internship in the Hamilton City School District. He then received his Ph.D. from the school psychology program at Michigan State University with a specialization in educational policy analysis. He completed an APA/APPIC pre-doctoral internship at Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health in Omaha, NE. In his role with NASP GPR, Nate has presented to state school psychological associations, conducted advocacy trainings, and collaborated with state and federal elected officials on legislation. He has served as principal investigator, senior study personnel, co-principal investigator, and project evaluator on funded research from the Institute for Educational Sciences, Scattergood Foundation, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Society for the Study of School Psychology. He is on the editorial boards of School Psychology Review and School Psychology International and is an Associate Editor for Journal of School Psychology. Nate lives in Tampa with his wife Meghan, son Quintin, and daughter Ava. Nate enjoys traveling, college basketball, micro breweries, and sarcasm.

    Casie Peet

    Casie is a fourth year doctoral student in the School Psychology program at USF. She is originally from Denver, Colorado and received her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Kansas. She has experience working in the school system and in a residential setting with students who have severe emotional and behavioral needs. At USF, she is trained in the Helping Our Toddlers, Developing Our Children's Skills (HOT DOCS) program, a parent training curriculum for parents of toddlers with challenging behaviors to help them use more effective and positive behavior management skills. She has also received her Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) therapist certification. Her research interests include teacher training, promoting the use of positive behavior management techniques, and social emotional assessment and learning (SEL) with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. In her free time, Casie loves to take her dog, Sasha, to the dog beach, traveling when her student budget allows it, taking barre classes, and going geocaching.

    Mikayla Drymond

    Mikayla Drymond is a third year student from upstate NY. She completed her undergraduate degree at SUNY Cortland and is a former preschool teacher. Mikayla's current research interests revolve around PBIS, trauma-informed care and the impact of trauma on students and families, and the impact of teachers' sense of self-efficacy and emotions on classroom instruction. In her spare time Mikayla teaches HOTDOCS, a parenting class that addresses challenging behavior in young children. She also enjoys traveling, reading, and long walks on the beach.

    Andrew Jenkins

    Andrew Jenkins is a third year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at USF. He is originally from Statesville, North Carolina and received his B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Political Science at East Carolina University. He has experience working with children with autism as an A.B.A. therapist. Andrew’s current research interests include PBIS, student well-being, identifying and providing mental health services to student within the context of the tiered system of support, and advocating for systems-level changes to help improve our education system. He loves the beach, the mountains, and enjoys being outdoors over anything else.

    Sarah Thoman

    Sarah Thoman is a third year doctoral student from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She completed her undergraduate degree at Hope College in Holland, MI where she participated in a program evaluation of a nature-based science enrichment program for preschool children. Sarah's current research interests include providing effective services for all students through multi-tiered systems of support, building capacity for school reform through systems coaching, and professional learning. Sarah enjoys home-cooked meals, visiting local farmers markets and coffee shops, and exploring new destinations.

    Courtney Deforest-Williams

    Courtney is a third year student originally from Southern California where she attended the University of California, Riverside. Her current research interests include school-based mental health services, emotional and behavioral disorders, trauma-informed care, and the effect of parenting behaviors on adolescent mental health. In her spare time she enjoys reading, gardening, and traveling.


    Joe Latimer

    Joseph Latimer is a second year student who is originally from Monroe, Wisconsin. He received his B.A in psychology with a minor in Learning Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. During his undergraduate years, he did research on Brief Experimental Analysis, reading and math interventions and professional issues in school psychology. His current research interests are multi-tiered systems of support, policy and system change and professional issues. In his spare time, he runs, watches TV/sports and hangs out by the pool.

    Faith Reynolds

    Faith Reynolds is a second year School Psychology doctoral student from Orlando, FL. She received her B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of South Florida. Her current research interests include behavioral interventions and providing equitable services in schools. In her free time she enjoys traveling, theatre and the outdoors.


    Marie Tanaka

    Marie is a second year doctoral student in the School Psychology program at USF. She is excited to be working in the lab to examine the validation and use of screening tools for emotional and behavioral risk in students, teacher training for interventions, and teacher wellbeing. Her research interests include cultural proficiency in teachers, student-teacher relationships, newcomer immigrant student adjustment, and applying a social justice lens throughout the school psychology practice. Since graduating from Brown in 2013, Marie has worked with students with emotional-behavioral disabilities, taught abroad as part of a Fulbright scholarship, and worked with ELL students in a middle school in Cambridge, MA. She loves practicing and learning languages, traveling, and going on hikes with her dog.

    Tatiana Broughton


    Tatiana Broughton is a first year graduate student. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in psychology. Her research interest include autism spectrum disorders, school readiness, and early intervention. In her free time she enjoys cooking, watching Netflix, and going to concerts.

    Sarahy Durango

    Sarahy is a first year Ed.S. student from West Palm Beach, FL. She attended the University of South Florida (Go Bulls) where she received a BA in Psychology and minored in Applied Behavior Analysis. Throughout her college career she worked in various clinic settings providing behavioral therapy as a registered behavior technician and also volunteered as a mentor to at risk youth in the Tampa area. Her research interests include behavioral interventions, applied behavior analysis and how to integrate both fields to better aid students, providers, and the community at large, and multi-tiered systems of support. In her free time she enjoys exploring new coffee shops and restaurants, traveling, and spending time with loved ones.

    Myesha Morgan

    Myesha Morgan is a first year student from North Myrtle Beach, SC. She received her B.A in Psychology with a minor in African-American studies from the University of South Carolina. Since graduating from USC, she has worked with adults and adolescents battling eating disorders. Her research interests include the impact of racial trauma on minority students, resilience, and school based mental health. In her free time, she enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling, and going to concerts.

    Alexis Sanchez

    Alexis Sanchez is a first year graduate student from Miami, FL. They received their B.A. in Psychology and Criminology with an English minor at The Florida State University. Alexis' research interests include socio-emotional intervention for children, the teacher's role in student behavior and performance, and multi-tiered systems of support. In their free time, Alexis enjoys creative writing (stories, poems, etc.), reading, and listening to/collecting CD's.

    Katrina Scarimbolo

    Katrina went to the State University of New York at New Paltz where received a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Creative Writing and Disaster Studies. Her research interests include how anxiety disorders and trauma impact students and pediatric school psychology. In her free time I enjoy cooking, the beach, and law and order marathons.

    Ali Simons

    Ali Simons is a first year Ed.S. student from Jacksonville, FL. She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of North Florida in 2016. Following graduation, Ali practiced as a registered behavior technician. Her research interests include behavior prevention and intervention, early childhood studies, and social justice issues within the education system. Her hobbies include swimming, shopping, cooking, watching tv, traveling, eating good food, and spending time with her friends and boyfriend.

    Andrea Guarnieri


    Andrea Guarnieri is a first-year graduate student. Andrea earned a JD from Stetson Law School and a BA in Philosophy and a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida. Her research interests include social justice in education, school readiness, and school-based mental health. In her free time (haha) she enjoys running, yoga, playing with her kids, eating yummy food and going to concerts.

    Austin Alonso

    Austin is a senior at USF, where he is an undergrad majoring Psychology. He currently interns at a local site that helps youth with social issues. Austin plans to go on to get his Masters in school counseling and becoming a school counselor in a high school. Some of Austin’s hobbies include working out, camping, and playing video games.

  • Updates

    Presentations, Conferences, Celebrations

  • Presentations and Publications

    We strive to disseminate our research so that our efforts can inform future research and practice towards improvement of socio-emotional and academic outcomes for all children.


    Peet, C.; Thoman, S.; von der Embse, N. (February, 2019) Improving

    Universal Screening with Multi-Informant Decision-Making.

    Presentation at the National Association for School Psychologists

    AnnualConference, Atlanta, GA.




    Peet, C.; Thoman, S.; von der Embse, N. (February, 2019) Improving
    Universal Screening with Multi-Informant Decision-Making.

    Presentation at the National Association for School Psychologists

    AnnualConference, Atlanta, GA.

    Kilgus, S., von der Embse, N.; Eklund, K.; Taylor, C., Demarchena, S.; Peet, C.
    (February, 2019) ISP-Function: A Brief Tool for FBA at Tier 2.
    Presentation at the National Association for School Psychologists
    Conference, Atlanta, GA.

    von der Embse, N.; Peet, C.; Jenkins, A. (October 2018) A Multi-Tiered
    Decision-Making Framework for Emotional and Behavioral Health.
     Presentation at the annual Florida Association of School Psychologists
    Conference, Orlando, FL.

    Shakir, A., Jenkins A., Tanaka, M., & Wingate, E. (October, 2018). Becoming

     “Woke”; Tips for Starting the Conversation on Social Justice. Small

    group presentation at the annual meeting of the Florida Association

     of School Psychologists, Orlando, FL.


    Thoman, S.; Peet, C.; Jenkins, A.; von der Embse, N. (July, 2018) Improving
    Universal Screening With Multi-Informant Decision Making.
    Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychological
    Association, San Francisco, CA. Blue ribbon winning poster; Division 16.

    Jenkins, A. & von der Embse, N. (August, 2018). Reducing Mental Health

    Problems Among School-Aged Youth. Poster presentation at the

     annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San

    Francisco, CA. Blue ribbon winning poster; Division 16.

    All Posts