• 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

    A New National Center for School Mental Health

    In partnership with the University of Wisconsin



    Purpose: The mission of the School Mental Health Collaborative (SMHC) is to facilitate and promote access to high-quality, evidence-based, school mental assessments and interventions. The SMHC will develop a national, interconnected network of researchers, practitioners, and family and youth advocates over the next 3-5 years focusing on:

    1. Reviewing and disseminating evidence-based school mental health interventions and assessment tools via a freely accessible online platform (akin to a ‘What Works Clearinghouse’).
    2. Developing consumable evidence briefs and blueprints that will serve as effective catalysts to guide advocacy and inform school mental health policy and practice.
    3. Developing school-university research partnerships that include expert technical assistance to facilitate essential implementation processes and provide program evaluation expertise.
    We are currently developing our scope and mission of the center, as well as individual, transdisciplinary research hubs at both the University of South Florida and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Access our implementation guide for Universal Screening Here.

    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 Wiconsin-Madison

    & Hillsborough County Public Schools

    Purpose: The overarching purpose of this 4-year project (2017-2021) 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 three of this project and will be conducting a series of single case design, social skills group interventions this year.



    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 collected 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 rated themselves on a variety of psychosocial dimensions. In addition, research assistants conducted 30-minute observations one time per week (varying days and times) for four weeks, for a total of four observations per teacher.


    Spencer: We are currently pursuing multiple funding sources to support the next phase of this work involving the development of an efficient and evidence-based intervention to support teacher wellbeing.





    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, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) does not engage in universal screening for mental and behavioral health needs. 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).





    Development of Universal Screening Tools to Inform Tiered and Targeted Intervention: Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavioral Risk Screener - Student Report Scale (mySAEBRS), Teacher Report Scale (SAEBRS-TRS), Parent Report Scale (SAEBRS-PRS) and Early Childhood Screener (SAEBRS-EC)

    In partnership with: the Preschool for Creative Learning, University of Wisconsin, FastBridge Learning

    Purpose: The purpose of this research program is to develop a comprehensive and complete universal screening assessment suite that will inform tiered and targeted intervention in schools. This includes both evidence-based tools for different raters (parent, teacher, student) and age ranges (K-12, early childhood) as well as critical processes (e.g., teacher training) and data interpretation models (e.g., multi-information decisional systems).


    Teacher training: developing evidence-based methods for training teachers in the use of universal screening and how to interpret data to inform intervention, both in-person and online.


    mySAEBRS and SAEBRS-TRS: Continuous psychometric development using existing databases of over 250,000 respondents.


    Multi-informant screening: examining teacher-student dyads to determine weighted multi-informant models using Bayesian analyses to develop single risk scores


    SAEBRS-Early Childhood: active development and data collection with early childhood centers in Florida and Wisconsin


    Development and 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 provides valuable data on when and how to intervene for test anxiety. Collaboration is ongoing with partners in England to further develop and refine the scale.




    A project supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration

    In partnership with: Pasco County Public Schools

    Purpose: Project PROMOTE (Providing Research-based training On Mental health for Organizations, Teachers, and Educators) is a three-year project funded by SAMHSA that trains middle school teachers in Pasco County to identify mental and behavioral health risk in the classroom. The project utilizes Youth Mental Health First Aid, paired with training in universal screening and verbal de-escalation to improve the assessment to intervention process. Access our school-based mental and behavioral health Consultation Guide Here.





    Developing a Cost-Effectiveness Model of Universal Screening and Tiered Systems of Support within Schools

    Purpose: The cost-effectiveness of school-based services is an on-going project meant the help educators understand the cost associated with school-based services within multi-tiered systems of support meant to address youths' social, emotional, and behavioral concerns.

    Objectives: The project aims to provide educators with an open-access tool to estimate the cost of universal screening and subsequent service delivery, estimate the cost of business as usual discipline techniques (office discipline referrals, suspensions, expulsions), compare the cost estimations between the two models while incorporating the discipline cost savings as a result of the implementation of universal screening and tiered systems of supports, and to create a model to help educators assess the personnel needs for the implementation of tiered systems of support.

  • Meet Our lab members

    Dr. Nate von der Embse

    Dr. Nate von der Embse is an associate professor of school psychology at the University of South Florida and 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 the 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 fifth year doctoral candidate 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 fourth-year doctoral 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 and reading.

    Andrew Jenkins

    Andrew is a fourth-year doctoral student in the school psychology program at The University of South Florida (USF). Before graduating from East Carolina University in 2016, he provided in-home services to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. During his time at USF, Andrew has worked in multiple primary and secondary education settings and within clinical settings in the Greater Tampa Bay Area, most recently at A.P. Leto High School in Hillsborough County, FL. Andrew's research interests broadly include preventative school mental health service delivery (e.g., screening, assessment, and intervention); training educators in school mental health identification and service delivery; and examining the cost-effectiveness of school-based service delivery. After graduation, Andrew aspires to work at a NASP accredited school psychology program at a university to train future school psychologists to impact the lives of youth and their families and promote equitable services within schools.

    Sarah Thoman

    Sarah Thoman is a fourth-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.

    Joe Latimer

    Joe is currently a third-year Ph.D. student in the school psychology department at the University of South Florida (USF). He specializes in educational leadership and school-wide system implementation. Prior to coming to USF, Joe graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and minor in Special Education. During his undergraduate years, he worked within an Academic and Human Development Clinic to provide comprehensive services for local families. His dream profession is a position of educational leadership and membership within a school-based research or consultation team. Similarly, his professional research goal is to examine the influence of educational leadership on school-wide system implementation. Currently, he works for the University of South Florida’s Problem Solving and Response to Intervention Project to help multiple school-based leadership teams evaluate their implementation of systems. Specifically, within the RAISE lab, he is providing professional development training for teachers and consultation services in areas such as data-based student behavioral decision making, utilizing school-wide behavioral screeners, and Youth Mental Health First-Aid. On a personal note, Joe loves to hang by the pool reading a book or exploring the city of Tampa.

    Faith Reynolds

    Faith Reynolds is a third-year 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.


    Tatiana Broughton


    Tatiana Broughton is a second-year doctoral student. Tatiana graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in psychology. Her research interests 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 second year Education Specialist (EdS) student in the school psychology program at the University of South Florida. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis, where she worked as a registered behavior technician providing behavior analytic services to children in the clinical, home, and school setting. Her research interests include behavioral assessment and intervention, and providing equitable services to all students in schools. In her free time, she enjoys trying new restaurants, traveling, drinking good coffee, and spending time with loved ones.

    Alexis Sanchez

    Alexis Sanchez is a second-year doctoral student in the school psychology program at the University of South Florida (USF). They received their B.A. in Psychology and Criminology with an English minor at The Florida State University. During their time at USF, Alexis has worked in primary and secondary settings in Pinellas County and Pasco County in the Tampa area. Alexis' research interests include social justice for minoritized populations, advocacy and policy change that promotes success in education and beyond, promotion of youth mental health supports for students, selective interventions based in Motivational Interviewing (MI) to help students with stress and coping, and multi-tiered systems of support. In their free time, Alexis enjoys creative writing (stories, poems, songs, etc.), reading, and listening to/collecting CDs.

    Katrina Scarimbolo

    Katrina is a second-year doctoral student who received her B.A in Psychology and minors in Creative Writing and Disaster Studies from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2018. Her research interests include anxiety disorders, the impacts of trauma, and promoting evidence-based mental health interventions for students. She is currently involved in the SAMSHA Project in the RAISE Lab providing Youth Mental Health First Aid and related trainings to educators, Positive Psychology, and Pediatric School Psychology Labs. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, going to the beach, and law and order marathons.

    Ali Simons

    Ali is a second-year Ed.S. student from Jacksonville, FL, where she graduated with her B.S. in Psychology at the University of North Florida. Before Ali entered the program, she practiced as a registered behavior technician with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a clinic, homes, schools, and other community settings. She also provided care for children with ASD in military families' homes. Her research interests include behavior intervention, early childhood, and social justice. Currently, Ali works with the Florida Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports Project at USF. After graduation, Ali plans to work as a practitioner. In her free time, Ali enjoys reading, being outside, baking, crafting, traveling, and spending time with her friends, fiancé, and pup.

    Chelsea Salvatore

    Chelsea is a first-year doctoral student from Trumbull, CT. She graduated from Fairfield University, where she received her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Educational Studies. Her current research interests include culturally responsive interventions and multi-tiered systems of support. In her spare time, she enjoys discovering new music and going to concerts.

    Bethany Goodhue

    Bethany Goodhue is a first-year doctoral student from Old Saybrook, CT. She graduated from Yale in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology, then spent three years working full-time as a Research Assistant in the Yale School of Medicine Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Lab. Her current research interests include school-based mental health services and behavioral interventions for children, focusing in particular on problem-solving, prevention, and early intervention for youth and their families.

    Emily Ferron

    Emily Ferron is a first-year doctoral student from Tampa, FL. She received her B.S. with a major in Psychology and minor in English. Her prior experience working in criminal and immigration law and being a Guardian ad Litem in the court systems, her experience doing research both on aggression in an Evolutionary Social Psychology lab and on oxytocin and vasopressin’s effects on pair-bonding and intimacy in a Social Neuroscience lab, and the research project and article on Trauma-Informed Behavioral Parenting and Early Intervention she worked on with Dr. Heather Curtis Agazzi, alumna and clinical faculty at USF’s pediatric clinic, all inspired her to pursue School Psychology. Her research interests are in policy and legislative system reform for education systems focused in mental health as well as social behaviors that have an impact on the child’s ability and motivation to thrive and reach their academic potential.

    Gabrielle Franics

    Gabrielle is a first-year doctoral student from Trinidad and Tobago. She attended the University of Delaware where she received her BA in Psychology with minors in Women Studies and Human Development and Family Services. After graduating in 2018 she spent her gap year working with the Trinidad and Tobago Children's Authority, which is an organisation that receives and acts on reports of child abuse and neglect as well as organises foser care and adoption for the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Gabrielle's researchinterests broadly include professional development for teachers and positive psychology. In her spare time she enjoys writing (she wrote and self-published a book on Amazon!), exercising and reading.

    Brianna Chin

    Brianna is a first year EdS student in the school psychology program at the University of South Florida (USF). She has earned her bachelors' in both Psychology and Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Chemistry from Florida International University (FIU). Before attending USF, she was a student success coach for the nonprofit organization, City Year Miami. Her current research interests include the effect and implementation of peer intervention spaces, finding cheap and effective interventions for high schools, and assessing the validity of academic assessments.

    Rachael Hite

    Rachael is a first year doctoral student from Jacksonville, FL. She earned her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Child Development at the University of North Florida. Her current research interest are school-wide system and policy changes and the home-school relationship as it pertains to student success. In her free time, she enjoys cooking/baking and watching anything true crime

  • 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.

    Publications (student denoted by *):
    von der Embse, N.P., *Jenkins, A., *West, G., Eklund, K., Kilgus, S. P., & *Morgan, M. (in press). Comparing Teacher and Student Report of Behavioral Risk in Predicting Elementary Student Math Outcomes. Assessment for Effective Intervention.
    Moulton, S., von der Embse, N.P., Kilgus, S., & *Drymond, M. (in press). Building a better behavior progress monitoring tool with item response theory and change sensitivity analyses. School Psychology.
    von der Embse, N.P., Kim, E., Kilgus, S. P., Dedrick, R., & *Sanchez, A. (in press). Multi-informant universal screening: Evaluation of rater, item, and construct variance with a trifactor model. Journal of School Psychology.
    Kilgus, S. P., von der Embse, N.P., Eklund, K., *Izumi, J., *Peet, C., *Meyer, L., & *Taylor, C. (in press). Reliability, Validity, and Accuracy of the Intervention Selection Profile–Function: A Brief Functional Assessment Tool. School Psychology.
    von der Embse, N.P., Rutherford, L., *Mankin, A., & *Jenkins, A. (2019). Implementation of a trauma-informed assessment to intervention model in a large urban school district. School Mental Health, 11, 276-279. doi: 10.1007/s12310-018-9294-z



    Jenkins, A., & von der Embse, N. (November, 2019). An Evaluation of the Cost Effectiveness of Universal Screening. Paper presentation at the annual meeting of the Florida Association of School Psychologists, St. Augustine, FL.


    Morgan, M., Jenkins, A., West, G., & von der Embse (November, 2019). Predicting Student Math Outcomes: Comparing Teacher and Student Risk. Poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Florida Association of School Psychologists, St. Augustine, FL.


    Sanchez, A., Latimer, J., Morgan, M., Scarimbolo, K., Jenkins. A., & von der Embse (February 2020). Youth-Mental Health First Aid: Evidence, Applications, and Future Directions. Paper presentation at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Psychologists, Baltimore, MD.


    Morgan, M., Jenkins., A., West., G., & von der Embse (February, 2020). Comparing Teacher and Student Risk in Predicting Student Math Outcome. Poster presentation at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Psychologists, Baltimore, MD.


    Jenkins, A., & von der Embse, N. (February, 2020). Evaluating the Cost Effectiveness of Universal Screening. Paper presentation at the annual meeting of the National Association of School Psychologists, Baltimore, MD.



    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

    Annual Conference, 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.

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