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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Culturally-Competent Assessments

Culturally competent practice in assessment is essential to improving outcomes for all students. It can reduce the achievement gaps and the disproportionate placement of minority students in special education. Nonverbal cognitive and alternate assessment strategies are strongly recommended by NASP. Alternate assessment strategies such as curriculum-based assessment, test-teach-test and performance monitoring over time should also be conducted.

Despite these recommendations, the field has been unable to develop culture-free intelligence tests. This is due to a myriad of factors, but an underlying explanation is that different cultures value different views of intelligence. As school psychologists, we will be responsible for assessing children from a variety of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. How do we mitigate the limitations of the test in order to get a more accurate picture of the child's capability? What types of assessment do you plan to use for children from different cultures, socioeconomic statuses, linguistic backgrounds, etc.? How do you plan to address the assessment's limitations in your report?
Posted by Roxane Nassirpour.


Tammarra said...

After testing a child whose first language is French-Creole, I learned that many children of African descent perform better on the Vocabulary subtest of the WISC-IV, when words are defined holistically. This was helpful in interpreting those scores.
We know that assessments are flawed. What we can do is be aware of assessment flaws and find ways to compensate for them.
Assessment must be a multi-leveled process, and parents can be our greatest allies. They are in most cases, the real experts about their children.
In order to prove ourselves culturally-competent, much will have to change in the way we practice.

tjasa said...

I believe that before we asess a child we will have to take into consideration where does that child come from and whether that child understands the English language. For example, if a child just came to the United States and has limited English speaking/understanding skills, we will not find out anything about his/her abilities if we decide to administer the WISC-IV. Further, certain sections of the WISC-IV ask about things that children from other cultures would not necessarily be familiar with.

Jessica S said...

If the student has limited English skills, we can do a battery of nonverbal assessments. However, this should also be interpreted with caution. I have tested a number of studnets whose first language is English, and they scored very low on nonverbal measures yet quite high on verbal measures. It's important to consider work samples, portfolios, and other curriculum based measures in order to gain an accurate picture of the child's functioning.

SBartolozzi said...

I agree with what everyone is saying. Standard tests like the WISC may not be an accurate measure of a student's intelligence when they do not have a full understanding of English. There are many parts of the WISC where this would be a large issue. I believe that we would have to alter our assessment measures on a case-by-case basis depending on their particular skills and knowledge.

I agree with Tammarra that parents are often the best source about a child and we would need to discuss their background and abilities with them. Sometimes, though, the parents do not understand or speak English either. This could bring up many other issues within a case. However, it's hard to generalize these situations.

Courtney said...

I recently attended a workshop wherein the key speaker was Samuel Ortiz Ph.D. His presentation of the exact nature of the current culurally and linguistically classification testing used today had a significant impact on me and my understanding of cuturally competent assessments. For example, Dr. Ortiz (2009) stated, "the majority of tests used by psychologists were developed and normed by the U.S. and inherently reflect native athropological contnent as well as the culturally bound conceptualizations of the test developers themselves. Many tests require specific prior knowledge of and experience with mainstream U.S. culture". I believe that statement alone, says alot about the assessment procedures we utilize, as well as reflective of our interpretations. Clearly we are setting up this group of culturally and linguistically group of individuals for an assessment that is flawed in its exact nature. Even the bilingual assessments batteries are insufficient in measuring the exact cognitive ability of an individual in a meaningful and accurate way. Eloquently summerized, Sattler stated(1992), "Probably no test can be creaed that will entirely eliminate the influence of learning and cultural experience. The test content and materials, the language in which the questions are phrased, the test dircections, the categories for classifying the responses, the scoring criteria, and the validity criteria are culturally bound".