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The procedures British Columbia school psychologists use to assess English as a second language students. Angerilli, Mark 1992

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THE PROCEDURES BRITISH COLUMBIA SCHOOLPSYCHOLOGISTS USE TO ASSESSENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE STUDENTSbyMark ANGERILLIB.A., SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY, 1978A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Language Education)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIASeptember 1992© Mark Angerilli, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of 1-44 T-taqe t-daCalircr)4The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDateDE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTThe purpose of this study was to answer the question, "Do BritishColumbia school psychologists use a multifaceted approach to assess EnglishAs A Second Language students?" Another purpose of the study was tomeasure the prevailing procedures used to psychologically assess ESLstudents in British Columbia school districts.A data collection design was developed that consisted of a mailed self-administered questionnaire that was to be completed by all of the schooldistricts in British Columbia. The questionnaire items were grouped in 3separate sections - The first section (4 items) of the questionnaire requestedpersonal and demographic information. The second section (35 items) askedparticipants to indicate on a 4 point Likert scale ( always ( 1 ) - usually(2) -sometimes(3) - never(4) ) the techniques and testing instruments they usedduring the psychological assessment of an ESL student. These techniques andinstruments were selected from the literature outlining multifacetedassessments and included (a) the use of tests translated into the student'sL I, and the assessment of the student's L 1, (b) reference to peers andsiblings, (c) use of translators, (d) parental involvement, (e) number of yearsin an English - speaking school system before assessment, (f) use of norm-referenced standardized tests, (g) assessment of the student'ssocial/cultural/linguistic background, and (h) an awareness of the biasfound in widely used tests, and the use of test results to prescribe treatment.11The third section (open-ended) invited the participants to briefly describethe guidelines, if any, that their district followed to distinguish learningEnglish As A Second Language difficulties from cognitive processingproblems.The results revealed that many B.C. school psychologists involved inthe assessment of ESL students are cognizant of the linguistic/ socio/culturalbias found in norm-referenced standardized tests and, as a result, are notextensively administering tests such as the WISC-R to ESL students, nor arethey relying exclusively on the test scores to prescribe treatment for ESLstudents. Moreover, many psychologists are using peers and siblings toestablish more realistic norms. Many of the psychologists are assessing thestudents' academic records (when available) and health records, andinvolving the ESL students' parents in the assessment process.The data also indicated that several phases of a multifacetedassessment need to be addressed by many of the school psychologists inBritish Columbia that are involved in the assessment of ESL students. Theseinclude:1) the assessment of the students' L 1, and the use (when appropriate)of standardized tests translated into the student's L 12) involving trained translators in the interview and assessment ofESL students, and the interview of the students' parentsiii3) measuring the students' current level of functioning with 'dynamic'assessment and adaptive behaviour measurement (such asFeurerstein's Learning Potential Assessment Device)4) involving the students' classroom teacher in the assessmentthrough the use of anecdotal reporting5) understanding that it takes at least five years, on the average, foran immigrant child who arrives in the host country after the ageof six to approach grade norms in L2 Cognitive Academic LanguageProficiency..This study has revealed the wide range of psychological assessmentprocedures currently employed by British Columbia school psychologists.Some psychologists are utilizing all of the data at their disposal to accuratelyassess ESL students, while others are employing practices that may produceinaccurate and misleading results. In this regard, this study has establisheda need for valid multifaceted psychological assessment of ESL studentsprocedures to be adapted by all of British Columbia's 75 school psychologists.ivTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract^ iiTable of Contents^ vList of Tables viiINTRODUCTION^ 1CHAPTER ONE Statement of The Problem^ 1Background of the Problem 1Purpose of the Study^ 4Definition of Terms 5CHAPTER TWO REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE^9Introduction^ 9Importance of L2 Proficiency^9The Use of Standardized Tests On An ESL Population 18Multifaceted Assessment^ 26Summary and Conclusions 33CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY^ 36Hypotheses 36Design of the Questionnaire^ 38The Study^ 39The Participants 40Data Analysis Procedures^ 41CHAPTER FOUR PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS^42NTCHAPTER FIVEBibliographyAppendix I:Appendix I I:Appendix III:Appendix IV:Appendix V:Appendix VI:DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONSQuestionnaireLetter to School SuperintendentsFollow-up Letter to School SuperintendentsIntroductory Letter to ParticipantsCover Letter to ParticipantsFollow-up Letter to Participants7594100109110111112113viLIST OF TABLESTable I.Table II.Table III.Table IV.Table V.Years Behind National Norms in Grade 12 Academic^11Achievement by Ethnic Group (Adapted fromColeman 1966).Comparison Between School and Home Language^14(Wells, 1982).Quantitative Description of School Districts^43Use of Translated Tests and L 1 Assessment^45Use of Translators During the Interview and^5 1AssessmentTable VI. Assessment of the Students' Previous Academic^53and Health Records, Socio-Economic Level, andMotivationTable VII.Table VIII.Table IX.Table X.The Use of the WI SC-R, Adaptive Behaviour^55Measurement, K-ABC, and T.O.N.I.Use of Peers, Siblings and Parents To Establish^59Local Developmental NormsThe Selection and Use of Culturally and^62Linguistically Fair Tests, and the Utilization of Localand/or Minority NormsUse of A District Team, Knowledge of L2 Acquisiton^65Theories, and Classroom Teacher InvolementMembers of A District Team^ 66Referral For Psychological Asessment As An Outcome^69of Difficulties With L2 Acquisition, and the Evaluationof ReferralsTable XI.Table XII.Table XIII. Years in An English Speaking School Before Allowing A 70Psychological AsessmentviiTable XIV.Table 5.1Table 5.11Table 5.111Table 5. I VTable 5.VTable 5.VITable 5.VI IThe Use of Test Results To Prescribe Treatment^72The Use of Translated Tests and L 1 Assessment^84The Use of the WI SC-R, Adaptive Behaviour^85Measurement, K-ABC, and T.O.N.I.Use of Translators To Interview and Assess Students,^86and To Interview ParentsUse of Peers, Siblings, Parents and Teachers to^87Establish Linguistic /Socio/Cultural NormsThe Selection and Use of Culturally and^88Linguistically Fair Tests, and the Utilization ofLocal and/or Minority NormsYears An ESL Student Is In An English Speaking School 89Before Being Psychologically AssessedThe Use of Test Results to Prescribe Treatment^90viiiCHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONStatement of The ProblemEnglish As a Second Language (ESL) students and native Englishspeaking counterparts experience difficulties with the academic demands ofthe school system. Teachers, concerned and/or puzzled with the lowclassroom academic performance of some ESL pupils, refer them toLearning-Assistance Centres, Speech Therapists, School Counsellors, andDistrict Psychologists for diagnostic psychological testing. (Berry &Lopez,1976; Cummins,1984).Once referred, the students are often assessed through the use ofnorm-referenced standardized psychometric tests. In many cases ESLstudents, as a result of the cultural and linguistic biases of the testinginstruments, are erroneously labelled as 'slow learners', mentallyhandicapped, learning disabled, and in some cases are inappropriately placedin special education classes (Bernstein, 1988). This faulty labelling andplacement can have a serious effect on the students, on their future and ontheir learning and performance (Mercer, 1971; DeBlassie and Franco, 1983;Cummins, 1984). The problem is that placing too much reliance on norm-referenced standardized tests to determine whether or not an ESL student isin need of special placement can be misleading, and damaging to thestudent.Background of the ProblemA brief examination of the literature on the historical roots ofintelligence testing in the United States (origin of the vast majority of norm-referenced psychological tests) is necessary to appreciate the current state of1affairs. Mental or I.Q. testing in the United States started at the beginning ofthe twentieth century as an outcome of a continuing need to justify thedifferences between the races ( Beckum, 1983; Williams, 1983). Beckum(1983) writes that later tests were used to "identify and stratify thepopulation of Americans entering World War I, to curb the immigration ofsouthern and eastern European races into America, and to justify thesubjugated condition of blacks" ( op.cit., p.40). Up until the late 1950's,however, most students progressed through the school system without theinfluence of scores on norm-referenced standardized tests. In 1958 fundsappropriated under the National Defense Education Act in response to thedesegregation of the American school system led to mass norm-referencedtesting and counselling . Beckum (1983) cites many studies and lawsuitsfrom the 1960's that decried the administration of norm-referenced tests tominority students when they had been omitted from the normingprocedures - a violation of the three basic tenets of psychometricassessment: validity, reliability, and standardization. It was not until 1978that the American courts in Larry P. v. Riles ( Beckum, 1983; Taylor &Payne, 1983) decreed that norm-referenced standardized tests, such as theStanford Binet and the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children - Revised(WISC-R), had not been validated for the purpose of placing black childrenin self -contained EMR classes; and the use of such tests indicated an unlawfulsegregation intent.In the modern context, Cummins (1984) states that the practice ofadministering a test formed on a predominantly white native-Englishspeaking population to minority students is potentially damaging to thosestudents who, as a result, are tracked into remedial skill development2activities that do not stimulate the development of students' self -image ascompetent learners. Deblassie and Franco (1983) go as far as to charge thatstandardized assessment of minority children serves as 'a gatekeeping'function. They go on to explain that the use of standardized tests representsone of the major elements in retarding the social mobility of the culturallydifferent bilingual child and in blocking the paths for those who are poor anddeprived to share in the educational opportunities and, by extension, thegoods of society. Tracking leads inevitably to ehnic and socio-economicseparation and it reinforces the stereotypes of inherent intellectualinferiority (Samuda , 1977). Ebel (1966) notes four outcomes of testing forall youth. He suggests that tests may:1. Place an indelible stamp of intellectual status on a child, therebypredetermining his or her social status as an adult and possibly doingconsiderable harm to his or her self -esteem and educational motivation.2. Lead to an overly narrow conception of ability, thereby eliminating thediversity of talent sometimes associated with creativity.3.Place testers in a position to control education.4. Encourage impersonal, inflexible and mechanistic processes of evaluationand determination with a corresponding loss in essential human freedom.Samuda (1975) indicates that there is a widespread belief amongteachers that it is educationally beneficial when classes are homogeneous.He goes on to say that ability grouping, which is usually based onstandardized test results, exercises harmful influence on the attainment andself -concept of those students placed in the lower ability classes.3The placement of minority students in lower ability classes hasreceived much attention. Leal (1976) found that Mexican-American childrenscore 10 to 20 points below their Anglo counterparts on standardizedmeasures, and as a result of this 'difference', the Educatably MentallyRetarded classes in California contain a higher proportion of Spanish studentsthan found in the general population. Leal's 1969 ethnic survey showed thatSpanish surname pupils made up 15% of the general school population, but28% of the EMR enrollment Mercer's (1971) eight-year study indicated thatpublic schools send children to EMR classes based on the following criteria:1.The almost exclusive reliance on IQ test scores.2.The utilization of a high cutoff score (IQ of 79) or below as compared to arecommended IQ of 69 or below.3. The failure to take into account sociocultural factors when interpreting IQtest results.Mercer (1971) suggests that if the IQ scores used to place these minoritychildren were reinterpreted with the knowledge that sociocultural factorscontaminate them, the social imbalance in EMR classes disappears. Mercer'sstudy points out that approximately 75% of the minority children enrolled inEMR classes, during the period of her investigation, "were mislabelled,incorrectly placed, and suffering from stigmatization and lowered self-esteem in a learning environment far from optimum."Purpose of the StudyThe purpose of this study is to ascertain the procedures used in theBritish Columbia public school system to assess ESL students' cognitive45learning processes. In particular, the study attempts to assess theappropriateness of these procedures in light of the students' linguistic andcultural backgrounds and to determine if the testing professionals are awareof linguistically and culturally appropriate assessment procedures. Thecentral objectives are:( I) to examine and describe current policies and practices in thetesting and assessment of ESL students within the British Columbia schoolsystem.(2) to evaluate the adequacy of the testing and assessment and thevalidity of related practices in the light of the needs of the studentpopulation for which they are designed.(3) to determine how often and to what extent during a multifacetedevaluation school psychologists employ techniques designed to reducelinguistic and cultural bias.(4) to develop a data base in order to facilitate further research intothe assessment of ESL students.(5) to provide guidelines for further research into the testing andassessment of ESL students.Definition of Terms- - English As A Second Language (ESL) students are defined as studentswhose first or home language (L 1) is different from the language of thewider community and its schools (L2)- - A standardized test is a sample of norm-referenced behaviour taken at apoint in time from which certain behaviours are inferred and/or predictedabout any individual. Classic examples of norm-referenced tests are theStanford Binet Intelligence Test, and the Weschler Intelligence Scale forChildren-Revised (WI SC-R). Norm-referenced standardized tests are used topredict school performance. If a student scores high, the student accordingto the predictive function of the test will do well in school. On the otherhand, if the student scores below a set score then the student, againaccording to the predictive function of the test, will not do well in thestandard setting and some type of remedial classroom setting might berequired. Standardized tests assume that previous learning is a goodindicator of future learning in school (i.e. potential) so the tests attempt todiscover the range of the student's academically relevant knowledge andskills.- - Culture is the set of institutions, rituals, values, world views, artifacts, andthe rules of behaviour (including language) used by a group of people for thepurpose of relating to their environment. The concept of culture is notisomorphic with race, although members of a given culture are often of thesame race. In fact, members of the same race need not share the sameculture.- - Assessment refers to the process by which data about a person aregathered and critically evaluated in an attempt to obtain an accurate view ofthe person and his or her adaptation to the environment.- - Testing, one of several approaches to assessment, is the use of specifictests or defined test procedures for the purpose of generating a score orrating for an individual.6- - Measurement is the process of generating objective scores, subjectiveratings, or other quantitative or qualitative values or information that can beused in the assessment process.- - Culturally valid assessment is a data collection process. Testing,measurement, and evaluation are conducted using instruments andprocedures that discriminate only in those areas for which they weredesigned and do not discriminate unfairly either for or against a subject forcultural reasons or because of social variations within a culture based onsuch factors as age, gender, socioeconomic class, cultural background,language or even dialect.- - WISC-R (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Revised) The WISC-Ris an individually administered intelligence scale designed to assess mentalabilities found to play a part in students' aptitude toward school work. Itconsists of twelve individual subtests that measure skills primarily inverbal comprehension and perceptual organization and to a lesser extent inshort term memory, numerical reasoning, and speed of eye/handcoordination. Frequently only ten of these subtests are administered withthe other two considered optional.The Full Scale I .Q. score is a composite which reflects an average of astudent's performance on both the Verbal and Performance Batteries.Intellectual abilities measured by the WI SC-R closely follow a curve ofnormal distribution. The mean score is set at 100 and a standard deviationis set at 15. The Verbal Scale is composed of six subtests, althoughfrequently only five are administered. These subtests measure a student's7Verbal Comprehension by requiring him to orally answer questionsinvolving vocabulary, range of information, analogies and common problemsituations. The Performance Scale consists of six subtests that are designed toassess a child's perceptual organization skills. Commonly only five subtestsare used. Students are required to find missing parts in pictures of commonobjects, assemble designs using a model from colored blocks, put togetherjigsaw like puzzles, perform a coding task, put pictures in logical order to tella story, and solve mazes. High scores are achieved by those who workquickly as these subtests are timed. The Performance subtests require verylittle expressive language and only enough language to understand therequirements of the task.A discrepancy between a student's Verbal and Performance I .Q. scoresmay arise. This usually means that the student's I.Q. measures on the twoscales differ by at least 12 points, which is statistically significant. Thisdifference usually indicates a high probability that the student is stronger ineither verbal or non-verbal skills. For example, when a student's Verbal I .Q.is significantly higher than his Performance I .Q., the psychologist shouldgather further information about the student's visual-motor discriminationskills, his problem-solving ability, copying skills, and response to timepressures. When Performance I .Q. exceeds Verbal I .Q. by a significantdegree, problems with reading are likely, and the student's languagedevelopment should be examined.8CHAPTER TWOREVIEW OF THE LITERATUREIntroductionThe following issues relating to the psychological assessment of ESLstudents which are relevant to the present study will be presented:1)What effect does language proficiency have on academic achievement?2) What are the effects of using standardized tests on an ESL population?3) What are the effects of using a multi-faceted assessment?As an introduction to the research on the above issues, a brief outlineof the linguistic limitations of ESL students and the academic problems theyface as an outcome of their linguistic limitations will be presented . This willhelp to link the research problem and the current research on thepsychological assessment of ESL students.Importance of L2 ProficiencyIt is evident that acquisition of the language of instruction in all itsphases is crucial for the non-English or Limited English Proficiency (LEP)student in order to make full use of the resources within the school system.Linguistic limitations may be present in varying degrees. Taylor (1974) hasclassified them as:1. Total language deficiency - students who speak and write only aForeign language. They have had very limited contact with thelanguage of instruction prior to arrival in the new country.2.Partial language deficiency - students who have a limited commandover the language of instruction, but another language is used athome.93. Dialect impediments - students whose first language is the same asthe host language but it is spoken with a different dialect. This is aproblem, for instance, for some West Indian students.The development of language is crucial to the cognitive and affectivegrowth of the young learner (Brown,1978; Cummins, 1984; Langdon, 1989).There is not a single concern in education that has more importance thanlanguage learning because of its varied and long term consequences.Academic and personal worth, career expectations, and career achievementsare all influenced by the students' linguistic abilities - or lack of them.(Cummins, 1984).Addressing the topic The Language Barrier", Brown (1978) offers aview of the difficulties encountered by the non-English speaking LEPstudent.Not only will the child be unable to comprehend the teacher, but hemay not be able to make himself understood. He cannot communicatewith other children, unless there are others who speak his language;he cannot ask any questions; he cannot express or explain his feelingsto anyone. He cannot, through language, share in any discussions,stories, or rhymes, however carefully they are linked with his homeexperiences. Although he has the ability to talk, any effort to do sofails miserably and perhaps for the first time in his life, he is unableto invoke a satisfactory response to speech (p. 12).Some academic problems that are a result of being unable to learn becauseof a language deficiency are presented in Table 1. These results show thatsome ESL students are, in some cases, severely disadvantaged in two modesof school learning: Reading and Verbalizing.10Table IYears Behind National Norms in Grade 12 Academic Achievement by EthnicGroup (Adapted from Coleman, 1966).Reading Verbal AbilityMEXICAN-AMERICAN 3.3 3.5PUERTO RICAN 3.2 3.6ASIAN AMERICAN 1.6 1.6The above table illustrates that minority students can be over threeyears behind their native English speaking peers in the areas of Reading andVerbal Ability. The following section of the review examines some theoriesrelating to learning a new language in a school environment, and therelationship between the new found language abilities and academic success.L2 Language Proficiency and Academic AchievementThis part of the review will examine some of the theories that havebeen put forward to explain the learning of a second language in the contextof school, and the relationship between proficiency in the new language, L2,and academic success. Donaldson (1978) points out that early pre-schoollanguage and cognitive processes develop from a meaningful context, forexample, goals, intentions, and familiar events. However, she goes on to saythat language and cognitive processes that do not involve meaningfulinterpersonal context make entirely different demands on the learner in thatthe learner must focus on the linguistic forms themselves. She adds that11children are able to perform at much higher cognitive levels when the task ispresented in an embedded context.. Her argument presents a strong case forthe hypotheses that disembedding of early instruction in reading and otherschool-tasks contribute to educational difficulties.There can be a discrepancy between students' face-to-face Englishlanguage ability and their academic level and use of English. Skuttnabb-Kangas (1984) draws attention to the phenomenon of having fluency in onlyone of the two languages; 'surface' fluency in L2 and not the academically-cognitive aspects of the L2. His study indicates that Finnish immigrantstudents who were either born in Sweden, or who migrated at a relativelyyoung age appeared to converse in the L2 (Swedish) in appropriate ways ineveryday face-to-face situations (context embedded) despite literacy skillsthat were very much below age-appropriate levels in both L 1 and L2.Cummins (1984) defines surface fluency as basic interpersonalcommunicative skills (BICS) and conceptual-linguistic knowledge as cognitiveacademic language proficiency (CALP). Cummins elaborates on BICS as themanifestation of language proficiency in everyday communicative contextswhile CALP is defined as the manipulation of language in decontextualizedacademic situations. Cummins (1980) also notes that it takes students fromsix months to two years to reach fluency in BICS but " that it takes at leastfive years, on the average, for immigrant children who arrive in the hostcountry after the age of six to approach grade norms in L2 Caip" (p.148).These distinctions become much more evident when the language and theuse of language in the school context is considered.12Schools and Language LearningThe basic tenet in Canadian schools is that teachers have to impartknowledge or skills that they possess to students who do not yet have theknowledge or skills. The transmission model of teaching (Barnes, 1976)implies that the teacher initiates the topic and guides it towards the ultimategoal - the instructional objective. This emphasis on conveying context-reduced knowledge and content, which demands CALF, goes against mosttheories about how language and cognitive skills are acquired by L 1students. It may be the case then, that many L2 learners who areexperiencing difficulty with learning (labelled as low-achievers, mildlymentally retarded, learning disabled, etc.) are, in fact, having difficulty withdisembedded or context-reduced learning situations that have no relation totheir lives outside of the classroom. It may also be the case that thetransmission model does not encourage motivation and involvement inlearning. Essentially, the learning difficulties experienced by many L2students could be a result of methodology and may not be intrinsicproblems. Coles (1978) states, "By positing biological bases for learningproblems, the responsibility for failure is taken from the schools,communities, and other institutions and is put squarely on the back, orrather within the head of the child" (p.333).Lindfors (1980) sees children as 'active and powerful languageacquirers interacting with people and things in a responsive environment'(p.198). That is to say, children acquire their first language through activelyexploring meanings in the context of interaction with significant others.Donaldson (1978) points out that young children infer the meanings of wordsbased on prior understanding of the meaning of the situation in which the13words are embedded. The use of context-embedded language can, accordingto Donaldson, facilitate the acquisition of language.Wells ( 1982) notes that children learn language at the same time asthey are using language to learn other things. He points out that most of thechildren in his study experienced 'a reciprocal form of interaction, in whichmeanings were negotiated, not unilaterally imposed' (p.206). He goes on tosay that the parents of children who acquired language quickly andefficiently treated their children as equals in conversation, encouraged themto initiate topics, and helped them to extend the topics. His study alsolooked at the differences between the typical patterns of interaction in thehome and in the school. He points out that the one-to-one ratio in the homecan be seen as one of the variables in the results, but the differences in ratioof adults to children cannot explain all of the differences found in the twosituations. Some of Wells' findings are presented in the following chart forcomparison purposes.Table IIComparison Between School and Home Language (Wells, 1982).14topic initiated by childasking of display questionsadults' utterances whichextend child's utterancechild pursuing adult topicSchool Home16% 73%52% 20%14% 38%40% 14%Wells' evidence seems to indicate that compared to parents, teachers aremore concerned with their own topics rather then accepting and expandingtopics offered by the students. Teachers who explicitly or implicitly followthe transmission model of instruction try to use every situation to conveynew knowledge or to evaluate prior knowledge. Wells notes:that teachers only listen to the child's contribution long enoughto decide how best to use it to advantage from their own point ofview. They never really discover what it is about the experiencethat the child finds sufficiently significant to want to share it inthe first place (p. 211) .Cummins (1984) expands on the notion of teachers' personal agendas.He points out the trend in the school system to maximize student 'on task'time encourages teachers to maintain even tighter control over classroominteraction. Teachers and administrators, according to Cummins, have moreconfidence in presequenced and predictable interactions as opposed to lesspredictable active involvement to keep students on task. Cummins predictsthat teachers will have their students completing ditto sheets which requirefactual recall, but which keep students on task, to the exclusion of taskswhich require active, unpredictable problem-solving which could involvehigher level language and cognitive processes.Lindfors (1983) labels the contrast between the patterns of languagechildren experience in their home and in the school as a 'mismatch of majorproportions' (p. 146). Lindfor's model has the the child, in the home, activelyexploring their own world through language. While on the other hand, she15sees schools encouraging performances, that is, having the studentsdemonstrate what they have learnt as opposed to using language to explorein order to advance their knowledge.Cummins (1981), Wells (1982) and Lindfors (1983) all hypothesizethat ESL students can experience learning difficulties as a result of thediscrepancy in the use of language between their home and the school. Long(1983) posits that second language acquisition is dependent not just onexposure to the target language, but also on interaction with target languageusers who provide access to language input which has been modified tomake it comprehensible.The language problem facing ESL students is two-fold: they areexpected to develop a basic interpersonal communication proficiency in anenvironment that, according to Wells (1982) and Lindfors (1983), is notconducive to language development, and they are also expected to make atransition to cognitive/academic language proficiency in order to accesshigher level knowledge. Cummins (1984) argues that once BICS has beenattained it is only a matter of developing CALP. His assumption is based onthe notion that ESL students can acquire BICS after approximately two yearsin the host country (p. 132). This very well might be the case for somestudents who are fortunate enough to not only have the benefit of additionallanguage support (for example, ESL instruction) in the school system, butwho also have access to interaction with native speakers outside of theclassroom. As Wells (1982) and Lindfors (1983) succinctly point out: theclassroom itself is not an ideal environment for language acquisition.16The above studies seem to indicate that an L2 deficiency could be aresult of a language learning environment the ESL students find themselvesin. This L2 deficiency, as seen in Table II, could in turn lead to low academicperformances. Houston (1970) refutes the assumption that a linguisticdifference is a cognitive deficit. He indicates that the majority of ESLstudents are neither linguistically impoverished nor cognitivelyunderdeveloped. Even though their language deficit presents a barrier to astudent trying to negotiate meaning in their new environment, it isnevertheless a fully developed, highly structured system that is more thanadequate for higher-level thinking (Baratz & Baratz, 1970).Another possible cause of ESL students' low-achievement is theexpectations teachers hold for their ESL students. Expectations teachers holdmay be powerful determinants of students' actual performances becauseteachers translate their expectations into responses that affect the students'own expectations for themselves (Merton, 1957). These expectations areinfluenced by two categories of student behaviours (Samuda, 1975):1. Cultural characteristics (physical appearance, skin colour, clothing,mannerisms, etc) that are totally irrelevant to academic performance.2. Characteristics that students manifest as a result of their academicachievements (academic performance, educational abilities, conformity, etc.)Even if it has not been proven conclusively, the belief exists thatteacher attitudes exert a major influence on the achievement of ESL studentswho are expected to achieve poorly and consequently to require17psychological assessment ( Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968; Samuda, 1975). Theteacher, faced with an ESL student, who could be over three years behind inReading, Verbal and Math skills, might refer the student to the schoolpsychologist whose mandate is twofold: one, to discover the cause of this lagin the student's progress, and two, to suggest ways in which to remedy it.Algozzine, Christenson, and Tsseldyke's (1983) study indicates that92% of students referred to psychologists for low-achievement weresubsequently administered psychoeducational tests. The importance of thedecision to administer psychoeducational tests is highlighted by the researchthat indicates that, once a student has been tested, the probability is veryhigh that s/he will be placed in a special education setting. ( Shepard &Smith, 1981; Tsseldyke Algozzine, 1982; Foster, Ysseldyke, Casey, &Thurlow, 1984; ). Cummins (1980) states " that psychological or educationalassessment of immigrant children in L2 within their first five years in thehost country is likely to seriously underestimate their potential academicabilities" (p. 148).The Use of Standardized Tests On An ESL PopulationThis part of the review will examine the literature that deals with thelanguage/cultural mismatch between standardized tests and ESL students,and the possible outcomes of the mismatch.Recognition of the impact of cultural and linguistic differences onlearning problems is a relative new concern in special education. Bernstein,(1989) points out that it is only recently that educators have begun to realize18that norm-referenced standardized tests can be meaningfully used onlywith students from the same cultural and linguistic backgrounds as theoriginal sample on which the tests were normed. Within this growingawareness of the need for culturally valid assessment some issues havereceived attention: inappropriate assessment procedures and tools,inaccurate differential diagnosis (inability to separate language and culturefrom learning problems) and inappropriate placements (Mercer,1973;Oakland,1977;Feurerstein,1979; Omark and Watson,1983; Manni et al.,1984;Olion and Olion,1984; Cummins,1984).Once referred, the low performing ESL student will be tested by adistrict psychologist who will use any one of a battery of standardized tests." A standardized test is usually defined as a sample of behaviour taken at aspecific point in time from which certain behaviours are inferred and/orpredicted about an individual.' (Deblassie and Franco, p.62). That is to say,standardized tests are used to predict school performance. If a studentscores high, the student, according to the predictive function of the test,should do well in school. On the other hand, if the student scores below a setscore, the student, again according to the predictive function of the test, maynot do well in the standard classroom setting and some type of remedialsetting might be required. Cummins (1984) notes that standardized testsassume that previous learning is a good indicator of future learning in schoolso they ( the tests) attempt to discover the range of the student'sacademically relevant knowledge and skills.Standardized tests begin with the test constructor gatheringappropriate items and presenting these items to a sample of children to see19how they do. Tests that are well designed tend to prove the general rulethat intelligence stays the same as the student develops, has newexperiences, encounters new social pressures, and progresses through theschool system (Deblassie and Franco,1983). However, it takes manipulationof the questions to make sure that the predictive function of the test ismaintained. It is during this standardization process that cultural bias firstappears. For example, of the the 2,200 children who formed the sample forthe standardization of the WI SC-R (Weschler Intelligence Scale For Children -Revised) there were only 330 non-white children, 305 of who were black(Cummins, 1984).Cummins states: "Thus, in the pilot stage of item development, themajority of items selected for try-out will reflect the prior learningexperiences of the majority Anglo group" (p.70). Taylor and Payne (1983)write "most standardized tests, if used in accordance with the publisher'sinstructions, would be culturally discriminatory because no specific normshave been established for various cultural groups and becauserepresentation of diverse cultural groups were not used in thestandardization sample." What, then, do the tests measure when they areadministered to various cultural and linguistic groups when they have, infact, been designed for a majority native English speaking population?Intelligence or Language ??The issue of what is being measured, intelligence or language isexamined by Duran (1989). He notes that for a non-native English speaker,every test given in English becomes a language or literacy test. Omark andWatson (1983) note that the examiner, most likely a white, monolingual20psychologist, is going to attempt to explain the test to the limited Englishproficient student who is not going to understand the directions no matterhow warm and responsive the examiner is if there is a language barrier. Ifthe student cannot follow the directions, or is bewildered, then the testresults will not be a valid representation of the student's potential andmisguided programming or placement may take place (De Avila andHavassy, 1974).Some test-producing companies have tried to deal with the languagebarrier aspect of their tests by translating their product into minoritylanguages such as Spanish. DeAvila and Havassy(1974) suggest thattranslating existing intelligence test for non-English speaking students oftencreates problems:1.Regional differences within a language make it difficultto use a single translation in a standardized testingsituation where examiner and examinee are permittedvirtually no interaction.2.Monolingual translations are inappropriate becausethe language familiar to non-English speaking childrenis often a combination of two language as in the case ofTex-Mex . (Haitian Creole in Canada)3. Many non-English-speaking children have never learnedto read in their spoken language. For example, manyChicano children speak Spanish,but have had no instructionin reading Spanish.21The notion of using regional or ethnic norms instead of national normsis addressed by Howell and Morehead (1987) and Tucker (1985) who reporton the increasing utilization of local curriculum or school based norms. Theuse of local norms allows the ESL student to be compared to students, whofor the most part, are members of the same socio/cultural/linguistic group.Williams and Mitchell (1977) contend that cultural loading enablesstudents whose experiences parallel the content of intelligence and aptitudetests to perform better than students with culturally different backgrounds.Ribeiro, cited in Cummins (1984), draws heavily on his administration of 350WISC-R's to low income Portugese-speaking students from the Azores whohad been referred for psychological assessment, to demonstrate the fallacyof establishing a minority student's intelligence as an outcome of experiencesas measured by a standardized test. As an example of culture determiningthe response to a question, Ribeiro writes that one WISC-R question asksthe student if it is better to give money to an organized charity or to abeggar on the street. The correct response is that it is better to give themoney to an organized charity because the beggar might squander it.However, all 350 students from the Azores answered that it was better togive money to a beggar on the street. Their answer was an outcome of thebelief in the Azores that giving money to beggars was the same as givingmoney to God. Ribeiro's analysis of the Azorean students' responses clearlydemonstrates that the WISC-R can not do an adequate job when it comes tomeasuring the intelligent behaviours of a minority student, "yet these sametests label children as 'deficient' or low-ability' because the children lackknowledge and skills that they have never had the opportunity to acquire"( Cummins,1984, p.74).22De Avila and Havassy (1974) point out that it is impossible todetermine the source of the student's error on a norm-referencedstandardized test: the student may not have ever been exposed to the wordor the student actually lacks the capacity to understand the word. Cummins'(1980) analysis of psychological assessments of over 400 children from non-English speaking backgrounds shows that in many cases there is no logical orempirical basis for psychologists to decide whether poor test performance isa reflection of students' true ability or of their non-English-speakingbackground, but rather they rely on intuition.In an attempt to measure children's intelligence, but without theinfluence of limited English, the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Childrenwas developed. The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC), wasdesigned following many criteria, one being "to be sensitive to the diverseneeds of preschool, minority groups, and exceptional children' (Kaufman,1983. p.5). This standardized test attempts to measure the intelligence ofstudents while at the same time keeping the influence of languageproficiency to a minimum. Why then are ESL students still being assessedwith cultural and linguistically biased tests?Watson et al. (1980) indicate that most psychologists do not utilize awide array of psychoeducational tests, but continue to use the same toolsthey were trained to use in graduate school. Johnson, Vickers and Williams(1987) suggest that few school psychologists are trained in the area ofnonbiased assessment. Finally, Mehan, Hertwick and Meihls' (1986) studyindicates that psychologists continue to administer tests to children until23they find a disability that can be used to explain the student's academicdifficulties.Outcomes of Pyschological AssessmentWhat happens to the student who, because of a cultural/linguisticbiased test, is labelled deficient or low-ability? Mercer (1974) reports thatthese students are often erroneously placed in EMR (Educable MentallyRetarded) classes.She also points out that:Criteria for selection and placement in such classes were based on(a) the almost exclusive reliance on IQ test scores and the almosttotal absence of medical diagnosis; (b) the utilization of a highcutoff score (IQ of 79 or below as compared to recommended IQof 69 or below) and (c) the failure to take into account socioculturalfactors when interpreting IQ results (p. 54).Mercer also discovered four times as many Mexicans and twice asmany Blacks in the classes for the mentally retarded, a disproportionatenumber for their population in California. When she used a 'two-dimensional' definition of retardation: (intellectual performance andadaptive behaviour) and when the IQ scores were examined in light of thesociocultural background of the students, then the racial imbalance in EMRclasses disappeared. Mercer found that approximately 75% of the ESLstudents in EMR classes "were mislabeled, incorrectly placed and sufferingfrom stigmatization and lowered self-esteem in a learning environment farfrom optimum. In similar studies of EMR classes Fisher's (1977) results24indicate the full-scale IQ approach led to the classifying of 75% of theminority language students in his study as being EMR. Using Mercer'sAdaptive Behaviour for Children led to 26 of the students being classifiedas EMR. Findley and Bryan (1971) found that the effect of ability grouping isto deprive the low groups not only of self -respect, but of stimulation byhigher achieving peers and often of helpful teaching expectations. Samuda(1977) notes that tracking leads inevitably to ethnic and socio-economicseparation and it reinforces the stereotypes of inherent intellectualinferiority.Finally then, the above mentioned studies indicate that very littleother than a rather sketchy picture of the student's language proficiency canbe gained by trying to assess the intelligence of an ESL student with a norm-referenced standardized test.. A test formed on the dominant culture doesnot measure an ESL student's intelligence and it cannot accurately predictthe student's true potential.The decision to test or not to test is a difficult one. The tests do notadequately measure intelligence, but by not assessing, the ESL student'slegitimate learning disability may not be discovered, and he or she may notreceive the proper placement or program. The answer to this dilemma couldlie in the area of a broader assessment of the student; that is, looking atmore than a number on a test. Multi-faceted assessment will be addressedin the final section of this chapter.25Multifaceted AssessmentIt is of paramount importance to the minority student for the schoolsystem to know if the student's academic difficulties are a result oflanguage/sociocultural differences or are a product of a more seriouscognitive processing problem. The diagnosis of a minority student'scognitive functioning problems as much research has shown (Cummins,1984:Feurerstkin,1979; Manni et al.,1984; Olion and Olion, 1984) should not bebased solely on the results of a conventional IQ or achievement test.Cummins (1984) points out that standardized tests do have their place:Although specialized assessment can play an important role,it also has obvious limitations in that few assessment procedureshave any demonstrated validity for bilingual students (p.182).Olion and Olion (1984) and Manni et al. (1984) outline procedures that utilizemore strategies than standardized testing for the assessment of bilingualexceptional children. They see decisions regarding the placement andprogramming of bilingual exceptional children stemming from a collection ofdata - not just based on an individual test, or even a battery of tests. AsOlion and Olion (1984) make clear: "Assessment is a multifaceted process ofcollecting the data necessary for making educational decisions" (p.201).This part of the review will examine some of the sources of data andsome of the decisions that have to be made when assessing a bilingualstudent in order to determine the extent of the student's learning problems.This examination will include: looking at the literature concerning the choice26of language for standardized testing; methods of determining the influence ofthe child's sociocultural background; the role of the classroom teacher andparents of the child, and finally; Feurerstein's (1979) Learning PotentialAssessment Device (LPAD) - an alternative to standardized testing.Testing in L 1 or L2?The choice of language to conduct aspects of the assessment in, forexample norm-referenced standardized testing, is of crucial importance. Inthe attempt to differentiate linguistic and cultural factors from learningproblems, many researchers have recommended a more comprehensivefocus on first language proficiency, and more native language achievementand intelligence testing (011er,1983; Mattes & Omark, 1984; Ortiz, 1984). DeBlasie & Franco (1983) indicate that the professionals collecting the datashould be aware that some bilingual children often lack languageproficiencies in either language . Cummins (1984) also points out thatweaknesses that show up in the results of a translated test could stem froman L 1 cognitive/academic proficiency because of a lack of L1 instruction inthe schools. The decision to use a test in the student's L 1 is not as easy as itfirst appears. As mentioned above, it is exceedingly difficult to translatepsychometric properties from one language to another. However, in the caseof recently arrived immigrant students with no or minimal English, the useof L 1 (where available) is highly appropriate as the only other alternative isa trial and error approach to assessment ( Cummins, 1984).Use of TranslatorsBernstein (1989) indicates that interpreters or translators must bepresent during the administration and interpretation of standardized tests.27She goes on to say that it is very important that the interpreter providefeedback to the psychologist about forms of testing that may be culturallyinappropriate. She gives the example of a culture where children are taughtnot to comment on facts that are perfectly obvious to adults. In the samevein, Langdon (1989) notes that students being assessed may be morewilling to talk to a person from their own culture. Watson et al. (1986) writethat because it so difficult to cross linguistic and cultural boundaries withtests, the time taken in training interpreters is a good investment.Adjusted NormsMercer's (1979) 'System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment(SOMPA) expresses a child's sociocultural status by utilizing adjusted normsfor the Bender-Gestalt test, the Adaptive Behaviour Inventory for Children(the ABIC attempts to measure the ability of an individual to cope withnatural and social demands of the environment) and the WechslerIntelligence Scale for Children-Revised (many critics, notably Cummins(1984), indicate that the WISC-R is totally inappropriate for administrationto minority students because of its language and cultural bias). It should alsobe noted that 'the WISC-R test publisher has warned that the test is not to begiven to Limited English Proficient students ( Palmer et al., 1989). Thestudent's test results are interpreted in relation to norms developed fromthe scores for children from similar sociocultural backgrounds. That is,norms can be used to compare a black or Hispanic child to other childrenfrom the same racial/ethnic/linguistic background. The SOMPA uses foursociocultural scales for the comparisons: family size, family structure,socioeconomic status, and urban acculturation. Cummins (1984)acknowledges that the SOMPA is useful to predict the extent to which a2 8student is likely to benefit from an educational program that takes thestudent's sociocultural background into consideration.The Classroom TeacherOlion and Olion (1984) indicate that the student's classroom teacher isin a position to observe the student coping with an array of academicactivities and thus has a wealth of information on the student's strengthsand weaknesses. They continue by saying that the teacher should, however,be trained not to place value judgements on observed behaviour. Theteacher should be aware for example that loud talking could be the result ofcultural background and not the result of boisterous or aggressive behaviour.The authors reiterate this point when they write:Our ethnocentrism encourages us to measure the behaviourof others against our own internal standards. Each of us mustlearn how to look at a child within the context of that child's owncultural setting before any conjecture is made about ability orbehaviour. (p.208)The classroom teacher, through the use of anecdotal reporting,should also be keeping systematic records of the child's academicachievements and social behavior. This data could be used to validateinformation provided by standardized instruments; for example, the child'sresponse style, impulsivity, and tolerance for frustration. (Taylor & Payne,1983, Samuda, 1975; De Blassie & Franco,1983; De Avila & Havassy,1974).Manni et al. (1984) summarizes this aspect of the assessment procedurewhen they write, "the use of observation results in the establishment of amore direct link between assessment and intervention' (p.165).29Omark and Watson (1983) warn the psychologist to be aware of thestudents who are referred who do not meet their teachers' expectations.They continue by stating emphatically that the psychologist must carefullyexamine why the student is being referred in the first place. They indicatethat acculturation can be accompanied by periods of either extremely activeor extremely passive behaviour as the students adjust to freedom not foundin their native educational system. Some teachers, according to the authors,may view this behaviour as indicative of a learning disability.ParentsParents can play a role in the assessment of their child (De Blassie &Franco,1983; Omark & Watson, 1983; Langdon, 1989). The child's parentsspend large amounts of time with their children and thus can be animportant source of information. The parents might be aware, for example,of the games the child plays (Are they age appropriate? How complex arethe rules?). The parents can be useful in defining the extent of their child'slearning problems by helping to determine if the child's problems areexclusive to school-related tasks, or if they are found in all of the child'sactivities in and out of the classroom. The parents should be consulted todetermine if they perceive a difference between their child who is beingassessed and his or her siblings. Such comparisons can eliminate anybeginning concerns as to whether the problem is due to social, cultural orpoverty issues.Omark and Watson (1983) emphasize the importance of thepsychologist being familiar with the home environment of the student. Theynote that it is one of the major criteria of a nondiscriminatory assessmentthat the psychologist consider at all times the effects of poverty or extreme30deprivation. (They define deprivation as ' an extensive amount of absenceor lack of schooling' (p.45). Watson et al. (1980) assert a need on the part ofthe psychologist to become familiar with the many aspects of the culture ofthe population they serve.Peers and SiblingsContinuing with the notion of the psychologist being familiar with thestudent's environment the psychologist needs to be familiar with thelanguage experiences of the student being tested. Omark & Watson,(1983)and Langdon, (1989) indicate the importance of determining if the student'slearning is progressing at the same rate as other students with similarsocio/cultural/linguistic backgrounds. If students can be found who appearto come from a similar background as the child being referred then abenchmark can be established as to how much growth in language or inacademic skills one might expect from a student from that particularbackground.Watson et al.,(1980) advocate the use of 'focal child assessment' ornaturalistic observations. The psychologist, they point out, should ensurethat the settings, tasks, protocol, and participants are compatible with thecommunicative and interactional rules of the student being observed. Aswell, the settings must be varied to allow the student to demonstrate a broadspectrum of his or her behaviour and communicative range. The analysis ofthe data should include linguistic, pragmatic and contextural parameters.Reschly (1981) writes that behavioural assessment provides psychologistswith means to assess and develop interventions in the natural setting. Healso notes that it is extremely useful in evaluating referrals and clarifyingproblem behaviours by focusing on the natural environment.31Dynamic AssessmentThe professional collecting the data on a child must always be alert tothe notion that good assessment should lead to informed instruction.Feuerstein (1979) through the means of his "Learning Potential AssessmentDevice' (LPAD) advocates the use of 'dynamic' assessment which attempts todetermine the students ability to profit from training to solve problems.Most testing procedures use what he calls 'static' assessment. That is, theyare concerned only with measuring the student's current level offunctioning.Dynamic assessment, on the other hand, utilizes a test-train-testprocedure to measure a student's potential for being modified by training.The student is taught initial problem-solving principles along with workhabits and study skills. The student's capacity to utilize the taught skills onprogressively different and complex tasks is then measured and decisionsregarding placement and programming can then be made. He presentsmany case studies that appear to indicate that students who had beenpreviously diagnosed as mentally retarded by standardized psychometrictests achieved average levels of cognitive functioning when they had beentaught how to effectively use their cognitive abilities. That is to say, thestudents' academic and intellectual potential was enhanced through directintervention.Feurerstein (1979) notes the sombre prospect that many children willnever reach their potential because they are labelled retarded bystandardized tests and are placed in special schools and programs wheretheir cognitive development is tampered by the reduced intellectual32stimulation engendered by the assumption that such children have limitedaccess to abstract and representational thinking' (p.317).Summary and ConclusionsThe review of research concerning the psychological assessment ofE.S.L. students highlighted the dilemma facing school psychologists - how todetermine, through the use of assessment techniques and testinginstruments designed for, and normed on, North American English-speakingstudents, if an ESL student's academic problems are a result of a languagelearning problem, or are a result of a cognitive processing problem?Brown (1978), Cummins (1984, 1989), and Langdon (1989) report onthe importance of language learning, and its impact on a student's overalllearning. Coleman's (1966) study isolated academic deficiencies related tolimited English proficiency (see Table I). Cummins (1984) explores twodifferent, but nevertheless related types of proficiency - BICS (BasicInterpersonal Communicative Skills, and CALP (Cognitive AcademicLanguage Proficiency - the academic language found in schools). His findingsfocus attention on the need for school psychogists to be aware that it cantake up to five years, on the average, for an immigrant student to reachgrade norms in L2 CALP - which is the language of norm-referencedpsychological tests.The academic problems an ESL student experiences could be anoutcome of a school system that does not allow ESL students to easily learnthe language (Lindfors, 1980; Wells, 1982). These academic problems, inturn, could lead to the ESL student being psychologically assessed. The3334potential tremendous impact of being psychologically assessed isemphasized by the research (Shepard & Smith, 1981; Ysseldyke & Algozzine,1982; Foster, Ysseldyke, Casey & Thurlow, 1984) that indicates that once astudent has been psychologically assessed, the probability is very high thatshe/he will be placed in a special education setting. For the ESL student, theprobability of a special program placement could increase as a result of thelinguistic and cultural biases inherent in the psychological assessmentprocedure.Norm-referenced standardized tests (the mainstay of psychologicalassessment in North America) which were designed for, and normed on,native English speaking students who have been exposed to mainstreamNorth American education and culture, have resulted in many ESL studentsbeing erroneously placed in EMR (Educable Mentally Retarded) classes(Mercer,1974; Fisher,1977). A multifaceted assessment approach has beenadvocated given the serious limitations of norm-referenced standardizedtesting. A multi-faceted approach includes assessment of the ESL student'sLi proficiency, a thorough examination of the student's previous health andacademic records, interviewing the student's parents in their first language,consideration of the student's socio-cultural background and its influences onpresent school performance and finally, the use of a dynamic assessmentsuch as Feurerstkin's Learning Potential Assessment Device.The evidence presented suggests that ESL students will not beadequately and fairly psychologically assessed and, as a result, schoolpsychologists will end up with little more than a sketchy picture of the ESLstudent's English language proficiency. This present study was designed toascertain if the procedures being used to psychologically assess ESL studentsin B.C. public schools are fair and unbiased.35CHAPTER THREEMETHODOLOGYThis study was designed to answer the following question, " Do BritishColumbia public school districts use a multifaceted approach topsychologically assess English As A Second Language students?" Eight muchmore specific hypotheses were generated from this rather broad question.Hypotheses1)ESL students in B.C. school districts are being psychologically assessed inEnglish rather than in their native language.2) B.C. school psychologists do not examine ESL students' academic, health,socio-economic, cultural background, and levels motivation, as part of apsychological assessment3) B.C. school psychologists make regular use of the WI SC -R or otherstandardized intelligence tests when psychologically assessing ESL students.4) B.C. school psychologists, as part of an assessment of ESL students,reference them to norms that do not include ESL students.5) ESL students in B.C. school districts are assessed by psychologists who arenot familiar with Second Language Acquisition Theories.6) ESL students in B.C. school districts are referred for psychologicalassessment as a result of their difficulties with L2 acquisition.367) ESL students are psychologically assessed before they have acquired asufficient Cognitive Academic Language Level.8) B.C. school psychologists rely on the results of norm-referencedstandardized testing to prescribe treatment for low-functioning ESL students.Literature on the psychological assessment of ESL students points tostandard accepted procedures that are biased against ESL students, andthese same ESL students, as a result of biased assessment, may receive aninadequate and misleading assessment. This study attempted to discover ifthe psychological assessment of ESL students in B.C. public school districts is,in fact, biased and misleading. I have chosen to focus on the collection ofdata collected through a mailed questionnaire which reveals the proceduresand testing instruments used by the B.C. school psychologists that respondedto the survey. The methodology aims to juxtapose B.C. school psychologists'procedures for the assessment of ESL students with the research on thistopic.The study consists of a collection of data outlining the assessmentprocedures and testing instruments used by B.C. public school psychologists,and a basic analysis indicating the prevailing use of these procedures andinstruments.37PROCEDURESDesign of QuestionnaireThe source for items included published scholarship on thepsychological assessment of ESL students as outlined fully in Chapter 2.Items were grouped in three separate sections - The first section (4 items) ofthe questionnaire requested personal and demographic informationincluding district position, population of school district, ESL population of thedistrict expressed as a percentage, and the number of ESL studentspsychologically assessed within the previous two years. (Two years wasadopted as a criterion point to ensure that the survey results indicatedrecent practices and trends.)The second section (35 items) asked participants to indicate on a fourpoint Likert scale ( "always - usually - sometimes - never") the techniquesand testing instruments their school psychologists used during theassessment of an ESL student. These techniques and instruments wereselected from the literature outlining various assessment procedures andincluded (a) the use of tests translated into the student's L 1, and theassessment of the four modes of the student's first language, (b) peer andsibling reference, (c) use of translators, (d) parental involvement, (e) numberof years in an English - speaking school system before assessment, (f) use ofnorm-referenced standardized tests, (g) assessment of the student'ssocial/cultural/linguistic background, and (h) an awareness of the biasknown to be found in widely used tests, and the use of results from these38same tests to prescribe treatment. The participants were also invited towrite comments regarding their choices.The third section (open-ended), invited the participants to brieflydescribe the guidelines, if any, that their psychologists followed todistinguish learning English As A Second Language difficulties from cognitiveprocessing problems. (see Appendix I for Questionnaire)The survey instrument was piloted and revised with the kindassistance of the District Principal In Charge of Special Education, SchoolDistrict No. 36 ( Surrey). Confusing items, omissions, and irrelevant materialwere altered, and the final editing was supervised by this researcher'sgraduate committee at the University of British Columbia.StudyThe initial step in the data collection procedure was to contact by maileach of B.C.'s 75 school superintendents in order to be granted permission toconduct the study, and to obtain the name of the member of the schooldistrict in charge of psychometric testing (see Appendix II for The Letter toSchool Superintendents). The initial mailing of 75 requests to all publicschool district superintendents in B.C. to conduct the study resulted in areturn of 40 responses (a return rate of 53%). Of these 40 responses, 20superintendents indicated their permission to conduct the study, while theremaining 20 superintendents indicated that their districts did not have anESL population.A follow-up mailing to the 35 superintendents who did not respond tothe initial request to conduct the study (see Appendix III for Follow-up39Letter to School Superintendents) produced: 15 districts that consented tothe study; 14 districts that did not have an ESL population, and 1 districtthat did not feel that they had the time to take part in the study. In total, 35(46%) of B.C.'s 75 school district superintendents consented to take part inthe study.Contact with the district staff member in charge of psychologicaltesting in each of the 35 participating school districts was made with anintroductory letter (see Appendix IV for Introductory Letter to Participants).Within two weeks of the mailing of the initial contact letter, a cover letter, aquestionnaire, and a stamped self -addressed return envelope were sent outto each of the 35 participants (see Appendix V for Cover letter toParticipants). Twenty-five (708) of the surveys initially mailed out werereturned within the requested two week time period. After a mailing of areminder letter (see Appendix VI for Follow-up Letter to Participants) afurther 6 surveys were returned giving a total return of 31 surveys (or 86%of the consenting districts). Of the 31 returned surveys, 22 were completed,while eight participants did not complete the survey as their districts hadnot psychologically assessed an ESL student within the two years previous tothe study.ParticipantsThe participants in this investigation were the district staff membersidentified by their district superintendents as being responsible forpsychological testing in their respective school districts. The participantsincluded district psychologists, district counsellors, district principals,40assistant superintendents, co-ordinators, supervisors and directors of specialeducation and consultants.Data Analysis ProceduresEach survey was numbered and each item response was numbered.All responses to items were entered onto a computer program whichgenerated a mean response for each item. Handwritten responses to thequestions, and the responses to the final section were collated and analyzedby hand.LimitationsThis method of data collection cannot be guaranteed to determinewhat the school districts really practice. But, assuming that people whovoluntarily respond to such surveys are answering truthfully, the data canbe assumed to approximate reality. However, the small sample size indicatesthat the results can only be generalized to a similar population.41CHAPTER FOURRESULTSThis chapter contains two sections of data. The first section containsquantitative data which displays: 1) a breakdown of the school districts thatresponded to the survey into total population size; the percentage ofstudents that is ESL; the number of ESL students assessed in the two yearsprevious to the survey and 2) the psychoeducational practices of the BritishColumbia school districts that responded to the survey. The second sectionalso contains qualitative data derived from the open-ended comment sectionfound at the end of the survey form.Data from the four demographic questions( see Table III) indicatethe range of overall school district size, percentage of the district studentpopulation identified as being ESL , the actual number of ESL students in theschool district, the approximate number of ESL students assessed in eachschool district in the two years previous to the survey, and finally thepercentage of the ESL students assessed. The school districts that respondedto the survey ranged in size from 600 students to 52,000 students, and theESL student percentage ranged from 1 percent to a high of 47 percent. Theactual number of ESL students assessed ranged from a low of 1 in theprevious two years to a reported high of 20. The districts with the twohighest actual number of ESL students did not report the number of ESLstudents they had assessed nor did they indicate the reason why they couldnot provide this information.42Table IIIQuantitative Description of School Districts(NR = Not Reported)POPULATION ESL PERCENT ACTUAL ESL ESL ASSESSED ESL PERCENTASSESSED600 4 24 2 8.31000 16 160 6 3.81050 1 10 2 20220 1 22 2 102900 10 290 2 0.73500 3 105 4 3.83500 2 70 NR NR5200 6 312 4 1.35300 2 100 5 56000 1 60 10 16.66669 2 120 2 1.67008 1 70 4 5.77500 0.5 37 1 2.714000 5 70 1 1.414000 6 700 15 2.116000 4 640 15 2.317000 7 1190 NR NR17578 0.5 87 2 2.320000 22 4400 NR NR22000 NR NR 7 NR24000 3 720 20 2.7738000 18 6840 NR NR52000 47 24440 MR MRThe results from this data seem to indicate that except for the onedistrict that assessed 16.6% of its ESL population, ESL students arepsychologically assessed at approximately the same rate in B.C. schooldistricts regardless of the total population of the district or the size of its43ESL population. An extension of this study could include a comparison of therates of psychoeducational assessment between native English speakingstudents and their ESL counterparts.Psychodeducational Practices of the B.C. School DistrictsThe questions on the survey were intended to gatherinformation in four categories: 1) testing of the student's first language inreading, writing, oral and aural comprehension, and the use of norm-referenced standardized tests translated into the student's first language; 2)parental involvement in the assessment process; 3) examination of thestudent's previous scholastic and health records, and 4) the actual tests usedto assess the student. The respondents had to choose from four degrees offrequency on a Likert-type scale: ALWAYS(1) - USUALLY(2) -SOMETIMES(3) - NEVER(4). That is to say, if a district as part of apsychological assessment always used existing psychological tests translatedinto the student's L I then that district would have indicated ALWAYS (1) onthe questionnaire. A four point scale was chosen because this researcher, atthe outset of this study, intended to replicate a similar study conducted byJohnson, Vickers and Williams (1987). The responses for each questionhave been presented in terms of a mean response of all of the districts thatresponded to the question. A mean score of 3.7273 for the question, "Doesyour district use testing instruments translated into the child's firstlanguage?" for example, indicates that B.C. school districts,on the average,almost 'NEVER' use tests translated into student's L 1.44Assessing the Student's L 1Four questions pertaining to the four modes of language: Speaking;Listening; Writing, and Reading, and one question relating to the use ofexisting psychometric tests translated into English were included in anattempt to discover the scope of L 1 testing in the British Columbia publicschool system.'Does your district use testing instruments translated into the child's firstlanguage.''As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' oral proficiency in their first language?''As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' aural proficiency in their first language?'As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' writing proficiency in their first language?'As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' reading proficiency in their first language?'Table IVUse of Translated Tests and L 1 AssessmentQ ITEM MEAN STD DEBT CASESII USE TRANSLATED TESTS 3.73 1^.63 22ASSESS Ll ORALPROFICIENCY2.55 1.10 22ASSESS Ll AURALPROFICIENCY3.00 1.08 20ASSESS Ll WRITINGPROFICIENCY3.27 .88 22I1ASSESS Ll READINGPROFICIENCY3.18^.95 22 1145Use of Translated TestsIt is evident that of the school districts that responded to this sectionof the questionnaire only a few assess the student's cognitive abilities intheir first language as part of the psychological assessment. Breaking theresults down into percentages we find that 0% of the districts always usetranslated tests as part of the assessment; 11% usually use them; 11%sometimes use translated tests, and 78 never use translated tests. Onlytwo of the districts that indicated that they usually, or sometimes usetranslated tests, commented as to how they used translated tests:"locally developed measures""I (questionnaire respondent) sometimes translate test items intoSpanish for Spanish-speaking ESL students."L I Oral ProficiencyA further examination of the L 1 Oral results shows that: 28% of thedistricts always assess the student's L 1 oral proficiency as part of theassessment; 17% usually do; 33% sometimes, and 22% never assess thestudent's oral proficiency. When invited to comment as to how they wentabout assessing the student's oral proficiency the following comments weremade:"informal conversation using multicultural worker""developmental history with parents - school records"46"not formally - via observation - parent input""subjective reports by native speakers""informal conversation with another (adult) speaker of the samelanguage""speech and language assessment by pathologist""interviews with fluently bilingual specialist"" consultation with a person who speaks the language or with aparent"" informally by having native speakers provide information recommunicative abilities"" oral interview by a volunteer interpreter"The above data indicates that over half of the responding districtsmade some attempt to assess the student's oral abilities in first language aspart of the psychoeducational assessment. However, from the followingwritten comments it can be seen that in most cases it is a native-speakingvolunteer, or a parent who carried out this task, while only two districtsused trained professionals to assess the student's oral proficiency in theirfirst language. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for the untrained47volunteer or parent to notice, or assess, any but the most glaringirregularities in a student's first language.L 1 Aural ProficiencyThe results for the assessment of the student's aural proficiency aresimilar to the oral proficiency results except for the never category.Approximately 47% or nearly half of the districts, when psychologicallyassessing ESL students never assess the student's ability to aurallycomprehend their first language. Most of the respondents, when asked todescribe the process by which they assessed aural comprehension, repliedthat they used parents and volunteers fluent in the student's first languagewhile one district indicated that they used a speech pathologist. (Thisdistrict did not indicate if the speech pathologist was fluent in the student'sfirst languages.) Again, as noted in the oral proficiency results, it is notablethat some districts are attempting a comprehensive assessment but they arenot using trained professionals for what could be a vital component of theassessment.L 1 Writing and Reading ProficiencyThe data found in Table IV indicates that the school districts thatresponded to this survey are consistent in their assessment of the student'sreading and writing proficiency in their first language. An alarming statisticis found in the never category where approximately 40X of the districtsnever assess the student's writing or reading proficiency in their firstlanguage. Writing and reading problems present in the student's L2 but not48found in the student's L 1 could indicate a second language learning problemas opposed to reading and writing problems found in both of the student'slanguages which, in turn, could indicate a more serious cognitive processingproblem. It is quite clear from the written comments which follow that allbut one of the school districts that added written comments are relying onsubjective assessment of first languge reading and writing ability:"...informally - listening to the child read in their first languge.""...informal assessment of a writing sample""...informal writing sample"" ...miscue analysis of a variety of texts in first language"" ...having them write about a topic: getting input from someone whohas the expertise to evaluate it"'...volunteer interpreter""...if necessary""...we use several teachers and educated parents of same language"49...could be an oversight"More than half of the responding districts, as was the case withassessment of the student's oral proficiency in their first language, madesome attempt to assess the student's aural, writing and reading abilities intheir first language. These results would be more encouraging if theassessment of these abilities was carried out by a professional trained in theappropriate areas. The districts that indicated how they carried out thisaspect of the assessments, for the most part, depended on volunteers orparents for assistance. The results of these 'informal' first languageassessments might give some insight into the students; however, most of theresults should be viewed with some trepidation.It is of some consternation that approximately 44% of the B.C. schooldistricts that responded to this survey never make an assessment of thestudent's first language a part of their psychological assessment. Theassessment of the student's L 1, as pointed out in the review of the literature,can help in determining if the student's academic problems are a result ofdeficiencies in L2, or are an outcome of cognitive processing difficulties thatare also present in the student's L 1.Use of Translators During the Interview and Assessment of ESL StudentsTranslators fluent in the first language of the student being assessed,according to the research, are important in many areas: administration andinterpretation of standardized Nests; providing cultural insight intoasessment tools and procedures, and providing accurate communication withthe student's parents. The survey presented three questions relating to theuse of translators in the various steps of the assessment procedure: the useof translators during the interview of the student being asessed; during the50interview of the student's parents, and the use of translators during theassessment. Table V presents the findings from these three questions:Table VUse of Translators During the Interview and Assessment of the Students,and to Interview the ParentsITEM MEAN^I^STD DEV CASESUSE TRANSLATORSWHEN INTERVIEWINGSTUDENTS2.56 .74 22USE TRANSLATORSWHEN ASSESSINGSTUDENTS3.09 .75 22INTERVIEW PARENTSIN THEIR FIRSTLANGUAGE 2.70 .86 20The mean score of 2.56 for the districts that responded to this surveyregarding the use of translators during the interview is approachingsometimes. A closer examination of the data reveals that only 32% of thedistricts always or usually use a translator to interview the student.duringthe assessment. The mean score of 3.09 reveals that, as a province, theschool districts are only sometimes using a translator during a psychologicalassessment. Further analysis of the data indicates that during the actualassessment only 13.6% of the districts always or usually use a translator. Themean of 2.70 shows that the student's parents are only sometimes beinginterviewed in their first language. A closer look at the data shows that only5 135 of the districts always or usually interview the parents in their firstlangugeThe written response 'When available" appeared on many of thesurveys that indicated the use of translators. Two districts noted that theyused parents or volunteers fluent in the student's first language during theinterview of the student, but not during the assessment. One district addedthat they used 'Higher-grade ESL students to translate during the interview.The written responses seem to indicate that there is a lack of trainedtranslators capable of being a part of a psychological assessment.The above results substantiate Hypothesis No. 1: ESL students arepsychologically assessed in English rather than in their native lanaguage.The Students: Then and NowIn an attempt to gain insight into the student's present behaviour anddevelopment it is of paramount importance to examine the student'sprevious behaviours and development. Cognitive processing problemsexisting in the student's first languge might have been detected in theircountry of origin, or they could be an outcome of health problems present inthe student's early development It was also noted in the review of theliterature that the student's present socio-economic status as well as their'motivation to do well or work quickly' could exert some influence on schoolperformance - notably tests. The data in Table VI demonstrate the schooldistricts' efforts to ascertain 'who' the students were before they arrived inthe B.C. public school system.52Table VIAssessment of the Students' Previous Academic and Health Records, Socio-Economic Level, and MotivationITEM MEAN STD DEV CASESASSESS RECORDS FROMCOUNTRY OF ORIGIN2.52 1.03 21ASSESS HEALTHRECORDS2.36 1.00 22CONSIDER STUDENTS'SOCIO-ECONOMIC LEVEL1.86 .89 22CONSIDER STUDENTS'MOTIVATION1.68 .72 22The results indicate that, for the most part, the British Columbiaschool districts that responded to this survey are usually trying to researchthe student's previous academic and health records. The 28% of the districtsthat always assess the student's previous academic and health records havea baseline to work from when examining the student's present cognitiveprocessing problems. The remaining 72% of the school districts aredepriving themselves of vital information that could add to the findingsresulting from the standardized assessment of the students. Presentacademic deficiencies not noted in previous academic records, orattributable to health problems, could be the outcome of language learningdifficulties. On the other hand, a history of academic problems or healthproblems could signal the possibility of a more serious cognitive processingproblem. A sample of the written comments on the distiricts' attempts to53examine health and previous academic records helps to explain the meanscores."...if possible - we usually receive no or very little data""...if at all possible""...if available"Most of the districts that added comments to the above two questionsnoted that it is very difficult to obtain previous school records from ESLstudents and when the records are available, it is difficult to translate them.In some cases records were not available at all because the student did notattend school in their native country or, as in the case of refugees, therecords were left behind.Socio-Economic Level and MotivationBritish Columbia school districts, as shown in Table VI, are attemptingto examine factors outside the realm of academic abilities that couldinfluence the student's academic achievement. The students academicproblems could be a result of a socio-economic level that has deprived thechild of the elements necessary for academic achievement. i.e. nutrition. Theabove results do not substantiate the hypothesis that B.C. school districts donot examine ESL student's academic, health, socio-economic, and culturalbackground as it pertains to motivation as part of a psychological assessment.Many of the school districts that assess the student's socio-economic level54added comments that reflect an awareness of how forces outside of thestudent can affect their academic performance:The level of enrichment in the home should be consideredas an influencing factor in any psychological assessment notjust with ESL."...amount of education/standard of living in nativecountry/parents level of education""What is known about student's environment whichpotentially supports, or detracts from education, is takeninto consideration""...possibly the most critical factor"Table VIIThe Use of the WISC-R, Adaptive Behaviour Measurement, K-ABC, andT.O.N.I.ITEM MEAN j^STD DEV CASESWISC-R 2.75 .85 20ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOUR 2.71 1.06 21K-ABC 3.45^.80 22T.O.N.I. 3.05 .79 22The results in Table VII concerning the use of the WI SC-R are rathersurprising when they are juxtaposed to the extensive amount of literature55concerning the use or misuse of standardized tests with ESL students. Theliterature indicates that it has been an over reliance on standardized tests,notably intelligence tests such as the WISC-R, which has caused many ESLstudent's academic difficulties to be interpreted as cognitive processingproblems as opposed to language learning difficulties. The mean score of2.75 indicates that, as a whole, the school districts that responded areapproaching sometimes in their use of the WISC-R and, do not necessarilydepend exclusively on the utilization of standardized testing when they arepsychoeducationally assessing ESL students. A closer look at the actualresponses to the use of the WISC-R shows that only 10% of the districts thatresponded always administer it as part of their psychological assessmentprocedure. A further 20% of districts usually administer the WISC-R, whilethe remaining 70% of the districts only sometimes or never administer theWI SC-R Battery. The written responses were also encouraging in that of the18 districts which administer the WISC-R to ESL students, 72%administrated only the Performance section.The written responses also revealed a broad spectrum of how theschool districts which utilized the battery interpreted the results. Themajority of the districts that added written comments pointed out that theresults were always considered in light of the fact that the student was ESL.One district's response, however, illustrated the underlying concern thatcritics of the WI SC-R and other standardized tests have regarding their usewith ESL students, and that is in comparing the student with a set of normsthat do not include an ESL population.56"...depends on the student, their cultural educationalbackground etc. Never use 'standard setting'. ""...performance subtests and interpreted Language subtests""...if administered - all - but interpretation and scores on verbalscale are very guarded and at times not reported.""...when it seems appropriate and with identification in thereport that the student was operating in a second languge. Weuse tests to sample behaviour as much as to compare a childagainst a set of norms."The Use of Adaptive Behaviour Measurement/K-ABC/T.O.N.I.The low use of adaptive behaviour measurement is alarming in thatthe use of measures such as Feuerstein's Learning Potential Device canproduce data not necessarily tainted by the possiblity of the cultural orlinguistic bias commonly associated with standardized testing. Also,considering that only four districts added written comments, it can be seenthat adaptive behaviour measurements have yet to be widely accepted inB.C. school districts as an integral part of a psychological assessment. Onewritten comment sheds light on possibly why they are not being used:"an adaptation from workshops because no one hastrained officially in Feurerstein's methodolgy. Books andinformation are available."57The above admission could imply that the training institutions, and thepersonnel in charge of psychometric testing are not moving away from themore traditional modes of assessment but rather are sticking to the teststhey were trained to use. A similar comment was also made concerning theuse of the K-ABC:"We have the instrument but to my knowledge it has not beenused with ESL students."There were no written comments regarding the use or the reasons theT.O.N.I. is not being used so it is impossible to determine why the provincialusage rate is 3.05 or sometimes. One can only predict that the low usagerate is attributable to the fact raised in the review of the literature thattesting personnel are inclined to administer tests that they were exposed toduring their training. The above results do not substantiate the hypothesisthat B.C. school districts make regular use of the WI SC-R or otherstandardized intelligence tests when assessing ESL students.58The Use of Peers, Siblings and Parents to Establish Local DevelopmentalNormsTable VIIIUse of Peers, Siblings and ParentsI^ITEM MEAN STD DEV CASESASSESS INTERACTIONWITH PEERS2.29 .90 21REFERENCE STUDENT TOSIBLINGS2.27 1.03 22REFERENCE TO ESLPEERS2.09 .92 22liINVOLVE PARENTS INTHE ASSESSMENT1.64 1.00 22The guiding principle behind the use of standardized tests is the beliefthat in order to measure one student's academic performance then thatstudent's performance must be compared with the performances of manyother students on the same task. A significant drawback encountered whenusing standardized tests with ESL students is that the 'other student's are notnecessarily of the same cultural or linguistic background. The old adage 'it islike comparing apples and oranges' rings some truth in this situation. Theschool district personnel charged with the psychological assessment of ESLstudents could possibly overcome this drawback by comparing theperformance of the ESL student being assessed with either siblings and/orpeers with similar experiences and backgrounds. The data found in TableVIII indicates that most of the B.C. public school districts that responded are' always or usually' trying to incorporate peer/relative comparisons, and toinvolve the student's parents in their psychological assessments of ESL59students. The comments on these questions revealed the process thedistricts use to establish peer/relative norms, and the commonly occurringproblem faced by districts with small ESL populations:"...informal and subjective opinions of teachers""Since we have so few ESL students sometimes it is difficult to findsimilar cultural experiences."The latter of the two comments indicates a problem that most of theB.C. school districts face - a small ESL population does not easily lend itself topeer/sibling comparisons. The districts with small ESL populations arepossibly compelled to use possibly misleading national and internationalnorms when assessing their ESL students. The potential for biased resultsdue to linguistic/cultural/racial differences arises when the psychologicalassessment includes testing material developed for the mainstream NorthAmerican population (notably Anglo-Saxon), and the utilization of normsderived from the same population.The Selection and Use of Culturally and Linguistically Fair Tests, and theUtilization of Local and/or Minority NormsThe following section of results examines the efforts the B.C. schooldistricts have made to deal with the biases inherent in most commerciallyavailable testing materials, or as one respondent noted:"Bias is in all tests in North America - It is the interpretationof these tests which is important."60The data found in Table IX illustrates that, as a whole, the respondingB.C. school districts are usually cognizant of the notion that there is biasfound in commercial North American standardized tests, and of the notionthat the student's language level is not always indicative of the student'sability level. A provincial mean of 1.7143 and 1.5714 in response to thequestions, 'Tests Reflect student's ability not language' and 'select testingmaterial that is not racially or culturally biased', respectively, is veryencouraging.The personnel in charge of psychometric assessment in B.C., for themost part, are trying to select and use measures that reflect the student'strue abilities, not their language or culture. It would be more encouraging ifmore districts were attempting to evaluate their current testing materialsand procedures that could produce results that do not accurately reflect thestudent's abilities.Some of the psychometricians made mention of the difficulty theyfaced in finding testing materials that were not culturally or racially biased.It is also worth noting that some of the respondents wrote that they believedall testing material to be culturally or racially biased. The written commentssupports the idea that the personnel in charge of psychometric assessment inB.C. are hindered in their attempts at culture-free assessment by theabsence of appropriate testing materials.6 1Table IXThe Selection and Use of Culturally and Linguistically Fair Tests, and theUtilization of Local and/or Minority NormsITEM MEAN STD DEV CASESSELECT TESTINGMATERIAL THAT ISNOT RACIALLY ORCULTURALLY BIASED1.71 1.05 21TESTS REFLECTSTUDENTS' ABILITYNOT LANGUAGE1.57 .68 1 21EVALUATE MATERIALFOR RACIAL ORCULTURAL BIAS2.29 111.26 1I121PROCEDURES EXPECT AKNOWLEDGE OF NORTHAMERICAN CULTURE2.2 1 i .91 1 19USE TESTING3^INSTRUMENTS THATHAVE CULTURALMINORITIES INCLUDED 1IN THE NORMS2.24 .70 21USE LOCAL NORMS 3.52 I .81 l 21EVALUATE TESTS INTERMS OF NORMS,VALIDITY, ANDRELIABILITY RELATIVETO ESL STUDENTS2.00 1.05i21The use of norms, (described in detail in Chapter 2 of this paper),serves as a benchmark in the standardized assessment of students. Apsychometrician can compare the results of the student being assessed to theresults of (depending on the sample size) thousands of other students. The62student, once assessed, can then be seen as being roughly above, the sameas, or below the students used in the standardization process of the testbeing used. As noted in the review of the literature - the norms of moststandardized tests reflect an Anglo-Saxon population. An ESL student doesnot usually have the same educational, cultural and affective backgrounds ofthe students used in the standardization process of most tests. Thisapparently unfair comparison could result in an ESL student beingerroneously labelled.The responses from the B.C. school districts indicate that they are atleast aware of the need to compare ESL students to norms that reflect an ESLpopulation. The overall response rate of 2.2 4 (almost 'usually') to thequestion, "Does your district use Testing Instruments that have culturalminorities in the norms?" is promising. This result coupled with the positiveresponses to the remainder of the questions in this section does notsubstantiate the hypothesis that B.C. school districts reference ESL studentsto norms that do not include ESL students. The following written responsesto the question, Does your district attempt to select testing and evaluationmaterial that is not racially or culturally biased?" represent an awareness onthe part of the psychometricians of cultural bias in tests, while on the otherhand, they indicate their frustration with the lack of 'unbiased material':"It is very difficult to find materials.""All tests are culturally biased.""Aren't all materials culturally biased?"63"This is very difficult to carry out.""Attempt is the key word - very little is not,""Most instruments have some bias in them. We try to"to use the best we have.""Is there such? I would like to hear of it."An Informed Team Approach to AssessmentThe psychometrician carrying out the assessment is often a virtualstranger to the student being assessed. The same psychometrician can onlymake inferences about the student's academic abilities based on what thestudent does or does not do on a series of tasks and tests. The first of thefollowing three questions was put to the districts in order to discover if thepsychometic assessment of ESL students included input from sources suchas the student's classroom teacher or ESL teacher. These two people havebeen in daily contact with the student and therefore should be able to addpertinent information regarding the student's day to day performance andbehaviour. The second question was asked to determine if ESL studentswere being assessed as if they were, in fact, native English speakingstudents. The third question was asked to find out if and to what degree thestudent's classroom teacher was involved in the assessment, especially in thearea of the student's classroom social behaviour.64The data found in Tables X and XI illustrate that, at the provinciallevel, ESL students are usually being assessed by a distict team and that thepersonnel who psychologically assess ESL students are usuallyknowledgeable about L2 acquisition theories. The student's classroomteacher, however, is only sometimes involved in the assessment process.Table XUse of A District Team, Knowledge of L2 Acquisiton Theories and ClassroomTeacher InvolvementITEM MEAN STD DES' CASESUSE A DISTRICT TEAM 2.00 1.14 21KNOWLEDGEABLEABOUT L2 ACQUISITIONTHEORIES2.00 .94 19TEACHERS KEEPSYSTEMATIC RECORDSOF SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR2.52 .98 2165The written responses of 16 districts that indicated a team approachrevealed the members as being (listed in ascending order of frequency):Table XIMembers of District TeamMEMBERS^TIMES MENTIONEDOutside Consultant (not elaborated on) 1Administrative Officer (Principal) 2Hearing Consultant 2Multicultural worker/interpreter 3Parent 3Classroom Teacher 4Learning Assistance Teacher 8ESL Teacher 9Speech Pathologist 12District Psychologist 16The above results indicate that the psychological assessment of an ESLstudent in B.C. will be carried out by a District Psychologist who usually willbe part of a District Team. However, the district psychologist who 'usually'will be familiar with L2 acquisition theories might not have access toinformation regarding the student's performances outside of the formaltesting procedure especially the information that the student's ESL teacher66could provide regarding the student's L2 acquisition. These results, althoughnot that positive, do not substantiate the hypothesis that ESL students in B.C.are assessed by psychometricians not familiar with Second LanguageAcquisition Theories. Psychometricians should be, however, making betteruse of the other professionals involved with the student being assessed.L2 Acquisition Difficulties As A Reason for Referral for PsychologicalAssessment, and the Evaluation of the Appropriateness of ReferralsMuch of the research in the area of the psychological assessment ofESL students points out that the reason that they are being assessed in thefirst place is an outcome of their limited English language skills. Twoquestions were posited in an attempt to discover if ESL students in B.C. werein fact being referred for psychological testing because of their limitedlanguage skills, and if the the personnel in charge of psychologicalassessment were examining the referrals for their appropriateness. Thequestion pertaining to English language skills was worded the way it wasbecause any weakness in English would most likely surface in LanguageArts/Reading as opposed to Mathematics for example.The data in Table XII indicates that the rate of referral for thepsychological testing of ESL students as a result of difficulties with LanguageArts/Reading is close to sometimes in B.C. public schools. These results do nosubstantiate the hypothesis that ESL students are referred for psychologicalassessment as a result of their difficulties with L2 acquisition. The writtenresponses to this item show an understanding of the importance of67separating the difficulties associated with L2 acquisition and cognitiveprocessing difficulties:"...only if overall general delays are suspected""...but not generally - usually other factors are also involved""...only when the delay appears to be more than can be accountedfor by the fact that the student is working in a second language.""...if a student has been receiving ESL instruction for a period of timeand is not progressing at a rate similar to other ESL students."Any referrals being made as a result of the student's difficulties inLanguage Arts or Reading, or for any other reason deemed inappropriate bythe psychological testing profession should be discovered as almost all of thedistricts always evaluate the appropiateness of the referrals. The fewdistricts that added comments demonstrated an awareness of inappropriatereferrals:"The school psychologist is not involved until the school-basedteam, in conjunction with the ESL consultant, deems the referralappropriate.""If 'problem' is more vocabulary (language based) probablywon't worry about it; if, however, 'problem' appears more of aprocessing difficulty, then referral will be considered."68Table XIIReferral For Psychological Asessment As An Outcome of Difficulties With L2Acquisition, and the Evaluation of Referralsi^ITEM^I MEAN STD DEV CASESREFERRALS ARE ARESULT OFDIFFICULTIES WITHLANGUAGE ARTSAND/OR READING2.73 .63 22EVALUATE^11APPROPRIATENESS OFA REFERRAL^I 1.30 ,57 20Years In An English Speaking School System Before AssessmentWhen does an ESL student have enough English to be psychologicallytested in English? How long can the school system wait when it stronglysuspects an ESL student has cognitive processing problems? How long canESL students wait before being tested in order to be placed in programdesigned to help them? There are no clear cut answers to these questionsbut many researchers in this area, notably Cummins (1980), believe thatESL students can take up to seven years to reach their native Englishspeaking peers in Cognitive Academic Language Ability, the very languagethat many psychological tests tend to measure. The question, 'How mayyears in an English-speaking school system does your district usually allowbefore psychologically assessing an ESL student' posed a problem for most ofthe districts in that only eleven districts responded to it. The provincialmean result of 2.6818 years in an English speaking school system69substantiates the hypothesis that ESL students are psychologically assessedbefore they have acquired a sufficient Cognitive Academic LanguageProficiency. The following table, in order to demonstrate the broad range ofresponses, reports all of the data:Table XIIIYears in An English Speaking School Before Allowing A PsychologicalAsessmentYEARS^NUMBER OF RESPONSES1 22 1 22.5 1^13 33.5 14 14.5 1MEAN^2.68^STD DEV 1.12^TOTAL 11Many of the districts that did not indicate the actual number of yearsthey waited before testing did add comments as to how they approached thisvery critical juncture in the assessment process. The comments indicate abroad range of ' district policy' in the British Columbia public school system -ranging from basing the decision on academic progress to having no policy atall:"Not dependent on years, but lack of academic progress.""Dependent on age and proficiency"70"Varies greatly according to the exhibited needs of the student.""Depends on the presenting concern.""Depends upon age on arrival and length of residency in Canada -usually five years in Canada mimimum for standardized tests.""Would vary entirely upon the individual case.""This is left to the discretion of the practitioner.""No firm policy" (reported three times)Use of Test Results to Prescribe TreatmentThe last question on the survey Does your district use test results toprescribe treatment or intervention specific to ESL students?' was includedto determine how great a part the results of standardized testing played infollow-up intervention. As can be seen in Table XIV, the provincial mean of2.55 (approaching sometimes) seems to indicate that there is not an over-reliance at the provincial level on test scores in the determining of remedialintervention for ESL students. Therefore, the hypothesis that B.C. schooldistricts rely on the results of norm-referenced standardized testing toprescribe treatment is not substantiated. However, it is worth noting that45.5% of the districts always or usually use results from, according to theresearch, possibly culturally biased tests to prescribe treatment orintervention.7 ITable XIVThe Use of Test Results To Prescribe Treatment11^ITEM MEAN STD DEV CASES1! USE TEST RESULTS TOI PRESCRIBE TREATMENT I ,2.55 1.01 Ii221B.C. School Districts' Guidelines to Distinguish L2 Difficulties From CognitiveProcessing ProblemThe districts were invited to detail the guidelines, if any, that theirschool psychologists followed to distinguish learning English As A SecondLanguage difficulties from cognitive processing problems. Of the 18 districtsthat responded to this item, 11, or 61%, indicated that they followed someguidelines to separate L2 difficulties from cognitive processing problems; 3,or 16%, of the districts indicated that they followed the same guidelinesthey used with native-English speaking students, while the remaining 4districts did not indicate they used any guidelines at all. The guidelinesspecific to the psychological assessment of ESL students that reoccurred inthe responses included (reported in order of descending frequency): the useof nonverbal assessment (reported four times); researching thedevelopment of the student's L 1 (reported three times); comparing thestudent's academic development to peers and siblings (reported two times);using interpreters during formalized testing (reported two times), andfinally, allowing sufficient time for acculturalization and L2 learning(reported two times).72SummaryThe results revealed that many B.C. school psychologists involved inthe assessment of ESL students are cognizant of the linguistic/socio/culturalbiases found in norm-referenced standardized tests and, as a result, theyare not extensively administering tests such as the WI SC-R to ESL students,nor are they relying exclusively on the test scores to prescribe treatment forESL students. Moreover, many psychologists are using peers and siblings inan effort to establish more realistic norms. Many of the psychologists areassessing the student's academic records (when available) and healthrecords, and involving the ESL student's parents in the assessment processin an attempt to discover an historical basis of the student's currentacademic difficulties.The data also indicated that several phases of a multifacetedassessment as outlined in the literature need to be addressed by many ofthe school psychologists in British Columbia that are involved in theassessment of ESL students. These include:1) the assessment of the student's L 1, and the use (when appropiate)of standardized Nests translated into the student's L 12) involving trained translators in the interview and assessment ofthe ESL student, and the interview of the student's parents3) measuring the student's current level of functioning with 'dynamic'assessment and adaptive behaviour measurement (such asFeurerstein's LPAD)734) involving the student's classroom teacher in the assessmentthrough the use of anecdotal reporting5) understanding that it takes at least five years, on the average,for an immigrant child who arrives in the host country afterthe age of six to approach grade norms in L2 CognitiveAcademic Language Processing (C.A.L.P.) (Cummins, 1980).74CHAPTER FIVEDISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONSProblemTeachers, concerned and/or puzzled with the low classroom academicperformance of some ESL pupils, refer them to Learning-Assistance Centres,Speech Therapists, School Counsellors, and District Psychologists fordiagnostic psychological testing. Once referred, the students are oftenassessed through the use of norm-referenced standardized psychometrictests. In many cases ESL students, as a result of the cultural and linguisticbiases of the testing instruments, are erroneously labelled as 'slow learners',mentally handicapped, or learning disabled, and in some cases areinappropriately placed in special education classes . This faulty labelling andplacement can have a serious effect on the students, on their future and ontheir learning and performance (Mercer,1971; Berry & Lopez,1976;DeBlassie and Franco,1983; Cummins,1984; Bernstein, 1988). The problem isthat placing too much reliance on norm-referenced standardized tests todetermine whether or not an ESL student is in need of special placement canbe misleading, and damaging to the student.BackgroundPsychometric testing in the United States started at the beginning ofthe twentieth century as an outcome of a continuing need to justify thedifferences between the races (Beckum,1983; Williams, 1983). Beckum,(1983) also writes that later tests were used to "identify and stratify thepopulation of Americans entering World War I; to curb the immigration ofsouthern and eastern European races in America, and to justify the75subjugated condition of blacks" (op.cit., p.40). The practice of administeringa test normed on a predominantly white native-English speaking populationto minority students is potentially damaging to those students who, as aresult, are tracked into remedial skill development activities that do notstimulate the development of their self-image as competent learners, andretards their social mobility (DeBlassie and Franco, 1983. Cummins, 1984).The Educatably Mentally Retarded classes in California contain ahigher proportion of Spanish students than that found in the generalpopulation (Mercer, 1971; Leal, 1976). Mercer (1971) suggests that if thepsychometric scores used to place these minority children werereinterpreted with the knowledge that linguistic/socio/cultural factorscontaminate them, the social imbalance in EMR classes disappears.Approximately 75% of the minority children enrolled in EMR classes, duringthe period of her investigation, "were mislabelled, incorrectly placed, andsuffering from stigmatization and lowered self-esteem in a learningenvironment far from optimum" (p.15).There can be a discrepancy between a student's face-to-face Englishlanguage ability and his or her academic level and use of English. Cummins(1984) and Skuttnabb-Kangas (1984). Cummins (1984) defines surfacefluency as 'basic interpersonal communicative skills' (BICS) which is thelanguage used in everyday communicative contexts, and conceptual-linguistic knowledge as cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP)which is the language used in academic situations. Cummins (1980) alsonotes that it takes students from six months to two years to reach fluency inBICS but " that it takes at least five years, on the average, for immigrant76children who arrive in the host country after the age of six to approachgrade norms in L2 CALF" (p.148). It may be the case that many L2 learners,who are experiencing difficulty with learning (labelled as low-achievers„mildly mentally retarded, learning disabled, etc.), are, in fact, havingdifficulty with disembedded or context-reduced learning situations. Coles(1978) states, "By positing biological bases for learning problems, theresponsibility for failure is taken from the schools, communities, and otherinstitutions and is put squarely on the back, or rather within the head of thechild" (p.333). A classroom teacher faced with an ESL student who, as aresult of difficulties with the acquisition of L2 (the language of instruction) isover three years behind in Reading, Verbal and Math skills, might refer thestudent to the school psychologist whose mandate is twofold: 1) to discoverthe cause of this lag in the student's progress, and 2) to suggest ways inWhich to remedy it.A large majority of students referred to psychologists for low-achievement are subsequently administered psychoeducational tests(Algozzine, Christenson, and Ysseldyke,1983). Most standardized tests, ifused in accordance with the publisher's instructions, are linguistically and/orculturally discriminatory because no specific norms have been establishedfor various cultural groups and because representation of diverse linguisticand/or cultural groups were not used in the standardization sample WeAvila & Havassy, 1974; Omark & Watson,1983; Taylor & Payne,1983;Cummins,1984; Omark & Watson, 1983). Cummins (1980) states "thatpsychological or educational assessment of immigrant children in L2 withintheir first five years in the host country is likely to seriously underestimatetheir potential academic abilities" (p. 148). The importance of the decision to77administer norm-referenced psychoeducational tests is highlighted byresearch that indicates that, once a student has been tested, the probabilityis very high that s/he will be placed in a special education setting. (Shepard& Smith,1981; Ysseldyke & Algozzine„1982; Foster, Ysseldyke, Casey &Thurlow, 1984).Cummins' ( 1980) analysis of psychological assessments of over 400children from non-English speaking backgrounds shows that in many casesthere is no logical or empirical basis for psychologists to decide whether poortest performance is a reflection of students' true ability or of their non-English-speaking background, but rather they rely on intuition. Watson etal., (1980) indicate that most psychologists do not use a wide array ofpsychoeducational tests but continue to use the same tools they were trainedto use in graduate school. Johnson, Vickers and Williams (1987) suggest thatfew school psychologists are trained in the area of nonbiased assessment.Finally, Merin, Hertwick and Meihls' (1986) study indicates thatpsychologists continue to administer tests to a student until they find adisability that can be used to explain the student's academic difficulties.The decision to test or not to test is a difficult one. The tests do notadequately measure intelligence; but, by not assessing a low achieving ESLstudent, a learning disability may not be discovered and the student maynot receive the proper placement or program. The answer to this dilemmacould lie in the area of a broader or multifaceted assessment of the student.78Multifaceted AssessmentThe diagnosis of an ESL student's cognitive functioning problemsshould not be based solely on the results of a norm-referenced standardizedtest. The decisions regarding the placement and/or programming ofexceptional ESL children should stem from a collection of data(Feurerstein,1979; Cummins,1984; Manni et al.,1984; Olion & Olion, 1984).In the attempt to differentiate linguistic and cultural factors fromlearning problems, many researchers have recommended a morecomprehensive focus on L 1 proficiency and more native languageachievement and intelligence testing (011er,1983; Mattes & Omark, 1984;Ortiz,1984). DeBlassie and Franco (1983) indicate that the professionalscollecting the data should be aware that some bilingual children often lacklanguage proficiencies in either language. The decision to use a test in thestudent's L 1 is not as easy as it first appears as it is exceedingly difficult totranslate psychometric properties from one language to another. However,in the case of recently arrived immigrant students with no or minimalEnglish, the use of L 1 (where available) is highly appropriate as the onlyother alternative is a trial and error approach to assessment ( Cummins,1984).The student's classroom teacher is in a position to observe the studentcoping with an array of academic activities and thus has a wealth ofinformation on the student's strengths and weaknesses which can helpestablish a more direct link between assessment and intervention (De Avila& Havassy,1974; Samuda, 1975; De Blassie & Franco,1983; Taylor & Payne,1983, Manni et al.,1984, Olion and Olion„1984). As well, the student's parents79can be useful in defining the extent of their child's learning problems byhelping to determine if the child's problems are exclusively school-relatedtasks or if they are also found in the child's activities outside of theclassroom. The parents should also be consulted to determine if theyperceive a difference between their child who is being assessed and his orher siblings. (De Blassie & Franco,1983; Omark & Watson, 1983; Langdon,1989).Omark and Watson (1983) and Langdon (1989) indicate theimportance of determining if the student's learning is progressing at thesame rate as other students with similar linguistic/socio/culturalbackgrounds. Students who appear to come from a similar background asthe child being referred can be used to establish a benchmark as to howmuch growth in language or in academic skills one might expect from astudent from that particular background.Feuerstein ( 1979) through the means of his "Learning PotentialAssessment Device' (LPAD) advocates the use of 'dynamic' assessment whichattempts to determine the student's ability to profit from training to solveproblems. The student's capacity to use the taught skills on progressivelydifferent and complex tasks is measured and decisions regarding placementand programming can then be made. Feurerstein presents many casestudies that appear to indicate that students who had been previouslydiagnosed as mentally retarded by standardized psychometric tests achievedaverage levels of cognitive functioning when they had been taught how toeffectively use their cognitive abilities.80In summary, despite the vast amount of research and literatureconcerning the potential harm resulting from the over-reliance on norm-referenced standardized testing of an ESL population, school psychologistscontinue to administer them as part of, or as the solitary component of,psychological assessments of ESL students. Not only does the researchdemonstrate that, for the most part, norm-referenced standardized testsserve only as a test of ESL students' L2 ability, but also that the misuse ofthe results of these tests can lead to incorrect labelling and placement of ESLstudents. The research presented strongly suggests that a multifacetedapproach to psychological assessment would produce more reliable results.Therefore, to answer the question, "Do British Columbia public schooldistricts use a multifaceted approach to psychologically assess English As ASecond Language students?" a data collection design was developed thatconsisted of a mailed self-administered questionnaire that was to becompleted by all of the public school districts in British Columbia that hadpsychologically assessed at least one ESL student within two years previousto the study. The data were used to test the hypotheses that:1)ESL students in B.C. school districts are being psychologically assessed inEnglish rather than in their native language.2) B.C. school psychologists do not examine an ESL student's academic, health,socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds as part of a psychologicalassessment.3) B.C. school psychologists make regular use of the WI SC-R or other norm-referenced standardized intelligence tests when psychologically assessingESL students.814) B.C. school psychologists, as part of an assessment of ESL students,reference them to norms that do not include ESL students.5) ESL students in B.C. school districts are assessed by psychologists who arenot familiar with second language acquisition theories.6) ESL students in B.C. school districts are referred for psychologicalassessment as a result of their difficulties with L2 acquisition.7) ESL students are psychologically assessed before they have acquired asufficient Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (Cummins, 1984).8) B.C. school psychologists rely on the results of norm-referencedstandardized testing to prescribe treatment for low-functioning ESL students.The QuestionnaireThe questionnaire items were grouped in three separate sections - Thefirst section (4 items) of the questionnaire requested personal anddemographic information. The second section (35 items) asked participantsto indicate on a 4 point Likert scale ( always (1) - usually(2) - sometimes(3)- never(4) ) the techniques and testing instruments they used during thepsychological assessment of an ESL student. These techniques andinstruments were selected from the literature outlining multifacetedassessments and included (a) the use of tests translated into the student'sL 1, and the assessment of the four modes of the student's first language, (b)reference to peers and siblings, (c) use of translators, (d) parentalinvolvement, (e) number of years in an English - speaking school systembefore assessment, (f) use of norm-referenced standardized tests, (g)assessment of the student's social/cultural/linguistic background, and (h) anawareness of the bias known to be found in widely used tests, and the useof results from these same tests to prescribe treatment. The participants82were also invited to write comments regarding their choices. The thirdsection (open-ended) invited the participants to briefly describe theguidelines, if any, that their district followed to distinguish learning EnglishAs A Second Language difficulties from cognitive processing problems.StudyThe initial step in the data collection procedure was to contact by maileach of British Columbia's 75 superintendents of schools in order to begranted permission to conduct the study and to obtain the name of thedistrict staff member in charge of psychological testing. After a secondmailing, a total of 35 school district superintendents consented to take partin the study. After a second mailing to the district staff members in chargeof psychological testing, 31 questionnaires were returned, a response rate of89%. Of the 31 returned questionnaires, 22 were completed while 9participants did not complete the questionnaire as their psychologists hadnot psychologically assessed an ESL student within the two years previous tothe study.ParticipantsThe participants included: district psychologists, district counsellors,district principals, assistant superintendents, co-ordinators, supervisors anddirectors of special education and consultants. The school districts that theyrepresented ranged in size from 600 students to 52,000 students, and theESL student percentage ranged from 1 percent to a high of 47 percent. Theactual number of ESL students assessed in each district ranged from a low of1 in the previous two years to a reported high of 20. The districts with thetwo highest actual number of ESL students did not report the number of ESL83students they had assessed. All responses to items were entered onto acomputer program which generated a mean response for each item.Handwritten responses to the questions, and the responses to the finalsection were collated and analyzed by hand.ResultsThe responses for each question have been presented in terms of amean response of all of the districts that responded to the question. A meanscore of 3.72 for the question, "Does your district use testing instrumentstranslated into the child's first language?" for example, indicates that B.C.school psychologists, on the average, almost 'never' use tests translated intostudents' L 1.Table 5.IUse of Translated Tests and L 1 AssessmentITEM^I MEAN I STD DEV I^CASES IIUSE TRANSLATED TESTS II 3.73 II .63 221111ASSESS Ll ORAL^II 2.55 1.10 22 :II^ASSESS Ll AURAL^I 3.00 1.08 20 11ASSESS Ll WRITING^I 3.27 II .88 22ASSESS L 1 READING^I 3.18 .96^22 IIThe data revealed that B.C. school psychologists, for the most part, arealmost never using tests translated into the student's L 1, and only'sometimes' assessing a student's L 1 as part of a psychological assessment.The written responses to this question revealed that even when apsychologist does assess a student's L 1 that it is usually done by volunteers,parents and, in a few cases, even students. It is of some consternation that84approximately 44% of the B.C. school districts that responded to this surveynever assess the students' L 1 as part of their psychological assessment.Table 5.11The Use of the WI SC-R, Adaptive Behaviour Meaurement, KaufmanAssessment Battery for Children (K-ABC), and Test of Nonverbal Intelligence(T.O.N.I.)11^ITEM MEAN 11 STD DEV CASESWI SC-R 2.75 .85 20I ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOUR 2.71 I 1.06 j 21K-ABCII I 3.45 .80 224^T.O.N.I. 3.05 1 .79 h^22The mean score of 2.75 for the use of the WISC-R in British Columbiaschool districts, as part of the psychological assessment of ESL students, isapproaching 'sometimes'. A closer look at the individual responses tt the useof the WI SC-R shows that only 2 or 10% of the districts always administer itas part of their psychological assessment procedure. A further 4 or 20% ofdistricts usually administer the WI SC-R while the remaining 14 or 70% of thedistricts only sometimes or never administer the WISC-R Battery. Thewritten comments also indicated that the results were always considered inlight of the fact that the student was ESL:The only 'sometimes' use of adaptive behaviour measures such asFeurerstein's LPAD, and culture free tests such as the K-ABC (KaufmanAssessment Battery for Children), and the T.O.N.I. (Test of NonverbalIntelligence) could imply that the training institutions, and the personnel incharge of psychometric testing, are not moving away from the more85traditional modes of assessment and that adaptive behaviour measurementsand culture free tests have yet to be widely accepted in B.C. school districtsas an integral part of a psychological assessment. One can only predict thatthe low usage rate is attributable to the fact raised above that testingpersonnel are inclined to administer tests that they were exposed to duringtheir training.Table 5.111Use of Translators To Interview and Assess Students, and to InterviewParentsITEM^11 MEAN II STD DEV II^CASESINTERVIEW STUDENTS II 2.56 11 .74 1 22 i,ASSESS STUDENTS^It 3.09 I1 .75 1 22INTERVIEW PARENTS If 2.70 II .86 11 20The mean score of 2.56 for the use of translators during the studentinterview is approaching sometimes; during the assessment the mean of 3.09is slightly above sometimes, and the mean of 2.70 for interviewing thestudent's parents in their first language is also approaching sometimes. Thewritten response 'When available" appeared on many of the surveys thatindicated the use of translators. Two psychologists noted that they usedparents or volunteers fluent in the student's first language during theinterview of the student, but not during the assessment. One psychologistadded that she used 'Higher-grade ESL students to translate during theinterview.86ITEM^Il^MEAN^ii^STD DEV^itli COMPARE TO SIBLINGS 1 227 1.03 22ll COMPARE TO ESL PEERS 2,09 .92 2211^INVOLVE PARENTS^i 1.64 li 1.00 2211if^TEACHERS KEEP^t; SYSTEMATIC RECORDS  2.52 .98 21CASES^11II1'Table 5.IVUse of Peers, Siblings, Parents and Teachers To EstablishLinguistic /Socio /Cultural Norms87The above mean of 2.52 indicates that B.C. public school psycholgistsare approaching 'sometimes' in the involvement of the student's classroomteacher, but are 'always or usually' trying to involve the student's parents,and to incorporate ESL peer/sibling comparisons into their psychologicalassessments of ESL students. One respondent's comment revealed aproblem probably common to most of the districts with small ESLpopulations:"Since we have so few ESL students sometimes it is difficult to findsimilar cultural experiences."Awareness of Bias In Testing and Assessment"Bias is in all tests in North America - It is the interpretationof these tests which is important." ( Survey respondent)Table 5.VThe Selection and Use of Culturally and Linguistically Fair Tests, and theUtilization of Local and/or Minority Normsri11-1^ITEM il^MEAN STD DEV dCASESI} USE UNBIASED TESTS 1^1.71 11 1.06 21li TESTS REFLECT ABILITY!NOT LANGUAGE1.57 .68 21EVALUATE MATERIAL1^FOR BIAS2.24 1.26 21PROCEDURES EXPECT A1 KNOWLEDGE OF NORTHAMERICAN CULTURE 12.2 1 .91 19! USE TESTS THAT HAVEMINORITIES INCLUDEDIN THE NORMS^.2.24 .70 21USE LOCAL NORMS^►1 3.52 1^.81 21EVALUATE TESTS FOR IINORMS, VALIDITY, AND 11'RELIABILITY RELATIVEHTO ESL STUDENTS^112.00 li^1.05,11Ii 121,The data illustrates that, as a whole, B.C. school psychologists areusually cognizant of the biases found in commercially produced NorthAmerican standardized tests, and that the student's language level is notalways indicative of the student's ability level. The psychologists, for themost part, are usually trying to evaluate, select and use measures thatreflect the student's true abilities, not their language or culture. The mean of3.52 or approaching never use of local norms could be a result of many ofthe school districts not having enough ESL students to establish valid local88ITEM     ^ MEAN STD DEV11 YEARS BEFORE 2.67 1.1211^ASSESSINGCASES 11norms. Many of the comments on these questions reflected the difficultythe psychologists faced in finding testing materials that were notlinguistically or culturally biased.Table 5.VIYears An ESL Student is in An English Speaking School Before BeingPsychologically AssessedThe 11 participants that responded indicated that, as a province,students are allowed an average of 2.67 years in an English speaking schoolsystem before being psychologically assessed. A detailed analysis indicatesthat 8 of the psychologists, or 73%, are allowing ESL students only up to 3years in an English speaking school system before being psychologicallyassessed. Many of the psychologists that did not indicate the actual numberof years they waited before assessing an ESL student noted that they didnot adhere to a firm policy.Table 5.VI IThe Use of Test Results To Prescribe Treatment89ITEMUSE TEST RESULTS TOII PRESCRIBE TREATMENT^M AN ^STD DEV I^I CASES2.55^1.01^11ii^22iiThe mean of 255 indicates that, as a province, the schoolpsychologists are approaching sometimes in their use of test results toprescribe remedial treatment for ESL students. However, a closerexamination reveals that 10 of the psychologists that responded to thisquestion, or 46% , always or usually use the results of tests to prescribetreatment or intervention.DISCUSSIONThe results revealed that some B.C. school psychologists are aware ofsome of the factors necessary for valid psychological assessments of ESLstudents. Many of the psychologists are cognizant of the linguistic /socio/cultural biases found in norm-referenced standardized tests and as a result,they are not extensively administering them to ESL students, nor are theyrelying exclusively on the test scores to prescribe treatment for ESLstudents. Moreover, many psychologists are using peers and siblings in aneffort to establish more realistic linguistic/socio/cultural norms. Many ofthe psychologists are also involving the ESL student's parents in an attemptto delve into the student's academic, health and developmental backgroundsin order to discover an historical basis of the student's current academicdifficulties.Even though some of the psychologists are using some aspects of amultifaceted approach to ESL psychological assessment there are severalphases identified in the literature as being an integral part of a multifacetedassessment that need to be addressed by the psychologists in B.C. schools.In-service sessions at the provincial level and at the university level are90needed to assist practising and perspective school psychologists to becomeaware that:1) the assessment of the student's L 1 and use of standardized teststranslated into the student's L 1 could help in differentiating linguistic andcultural factors from learning problems2) trained translators should be a vital part of the assessment of anESL student in that they can help the psychologist to cross linguistic andcultural boundaries3) most standardized testing procedures are 'static' in that they areonly concerned with measuring the student's current level of functioningwhile the use of 'dynamic' assessment and adaptive behaviour measurement(such as Feurerstein's LAPD) attempts to determine the student's ability toprofit from training to solve problems.4 the classroom teacher should play a significant role in theassessment. through the use of anecdotal reporting that could be used tovalidate information provided by standardized instruments, for example thechild's response style, impulsivity, and tolerance for frustration.5).it takes at least five years, on the average, for an immigrant childwho arrives in the host country after the age of six to approach grade normsin L2 CALP, and that any assessment taken before this may result in aserious underestimation of the student's ability.9It is of obvious importance for the school system to know if the ESLstudent's academic difficulties are a result of linguistic/socio/culturaldifferences or are a product of a more serious cognitive processing problem.The diagnosis of a minority student's cognitive functioning problems, asmuch research has shown (Cummins,1984: Feurerstein„1979; Manni etal.,1984; Olion and Olion, 1984), should stem from a collection of data - notjust be based on an individual test or even a battery of tests. As Olion andOlion (1984) make clear: "Assessment is a multifaceted process of collectingthe data necessary for making educational decisions."This study has revealed the wide range of psychological assessmentprocedures currently employed in British Columbia school districts. Somepsychologists are using all of the data at their disposal to accurately assessESL students while others are employing practices that may produceinaccurate and misleading results. In this regard, this study has establisheda need for valid multifaceted psychological assessment of ESL studentsprocedures to be adapted by all of British Columbia's school psychologists.Some Implications For Further StudyA series of considerations related to the outcome of psychologicalassessment of ESL students present themselves, none of which appear tohave been addressed in the research on the psychological assessment of ESLstudents.1. 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Evaluation of the identification ofperceptual-communicative disorders in Colorado (Final Report).Boulder: Labortory of Educational Research, University of Colorado.Skuttnabb-Kangas, T. (1984). Bilingualism or Not: The Education ofMinorities. Multilingual Matters.Taylor, F. ( 1974), Race, School, and Community. National Foundation forEducational Research,Taylor, O.L. and K. T. Payne. (1983). Culturally-valid testing: A proactiveapproach. Topics in Language Disorders. 3, 8-20.Tucker, J. (1985). Curriculum-based assessment. Exceptional Children.52. 3.Watson, D., Grovell,S., Heller, B., & Omark D. (1980). Nondiscriminatoryassessment test matrix. California Association of School Psychologistsand Psychometrists.98Watson, D., Grove11, S., Heller, B., & Omark D. ( 1986). Nondiscriminatoryassessment: A practitioner's handbook. California State Department ofEducation.Wells, C, G. (1982). Language, Learning and Education. University ofBristol.Williams, R. & Mitchell, H. (1977). The testing game. The NegroEducational Review. 28. 172-182.Williams, T. (1983). Some Issues In The Standardized Testing of MinorityStudents. Journal of Education. 165. 192-208.Wong Fillmore, L. (1983). The language learner as an individual.In Clarke,M. & Handscombe, J. (eds.) On TESOL '82: Pacific Perspectives onLanguage Learning and Teaching. TESOL.Ysseldyke, J. E., & Algozzine, B. (1982). Critical issues in special andremedial education. Houghton Mifflin.99APPENDIX I - QUESTIONNAIRE!NOTE: For the purposes of this survey an ESL student is defined as a studentwho speaks a language other than English at home. 1.My position is:^(i.e. Area Psychologist, Director ofSpecial Education, District Learning Assistance Teacher, ETC.)2. What is the total student population of your school district?3.Approximately what percent of your school population speaks English As aSecond Language? (Do not include native Indians as ESL)4.Approximately how many ESL students have been psychologicallyassessed in your district in the past two years?I IF THE ANSWER TO QUESTION 4 IS ONE OR MORE PLEASE CONTINUE. IF AN:ESL STUDENT HAS NOT BEEN ASSESSED IN THE LAST TWO YEARS PLEASESTOP AND MAIL IN YOUR QUESTIONNAIRE IN THE SELF-ADDRESSEDSTAMPED ENVELOPE.PART B. Circle the appropriate comment following each of the statementsbelow.5. Does your district use testing instruments translated into the child's firstlanguage?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverwhich ones?1006. As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' oral proficiency in their first language?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf so , by what means?7.As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' aural proficiency in their first language?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf so , by what means?8.As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' writing proficiency in their first language?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf so , by what means?9.As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLstudents' reading proficiency in their first language?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf so , by what means?10. As part of the psychological assessment does your district assess ESLinteraction with their peers outside of the classroom? (e.g. the playground)1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf so , by what means?10111.Does your district assess ESL students' school records from their countryof origin?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:12.Does your district use translators when interviewing ESL students?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments -13.Does your district use translators when assessing ESL students?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:14.Does your district involve the parents of the ESL students in theassessment procedures?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments -15. Does your district interview the parents in their first language?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. never^Any comments -10216.Does your district assess ESL students' health records?1. always^2. usually^3, sometimes^4. neverAny comments .^17.How many years in an English-speaking school system does your districtusually allow before psychologically assessing an ESL student?1^2^3^4^5Any comments .^18. Does your district use a 'district-team' to psychologically assess an ESLstudent?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments: ,^Please indicate the titles of the members of the district team who wouldmost likely assess an ESL student^19. Does your district evaluate the 'Appropriateness' of a referral for theassessment of an ESL student.1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:10320, As part of the psychological assessment, does your district compare theacademic performance of the ESL student to ESL peers who have experiencedsimilar cultural experiences for an equal amount of time?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:21.Does your district reference the student to either siblings or closerelatives who are progressing through the educational setting?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments .^22. When evaluating the results of the psychological assessment does yourdistrict consider the students' socio-economic level?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:23.Are the personnel who psychologically assess ESL students, and whoevaluate the results in your district knowledgeable about 'Second LanguageAcquisition' theories?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:24.Does your district incorporate adaptive behavior as part of its assessmentof ESL students? (i.e. Feuersteins's Learning Potential)1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:10425.Are referrals for psychological assessment of ESL students in yourdistrict made as a result of the students' difficulties with Language Artsand/or Reading?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:26.As part of the psychological assessment are classroom teachers in yourdistrict asked to keep systematic records of the students' social behavior?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf yes, please explain how27. Does your district attempt to select testing and evaluation material thatis not racially or culturally biased?1. always^2. usually^3, sometimes^4. neverAny comments .^26. As part of the psychological assessment does your district administertests that reflect ESL students ability in the area tested rather than thestudents' limited English skills? (i.e. abstract reasoning)I. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:29. Does your district evaluate testing and evaluation material for racial orcultural bias?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments'10530.Do the tests and evaluation procedures used in your district expect aknowledge of North American culture on the part of the students?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4: neverAny comments:31.Does your district's assessment/evaluation procedure take intoconsideration the students who are not in a hurry or who are not motivatedto do well?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments'32.Does your district use testing instruments that have cultural minoritiesincluded in the norms?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:33.Does your district use local norms' when interpreting ESL studentspsychological test results?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:34. Does your district administer all or part of the WI SC-R to ESL students?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf part, which parts?^10635.Does your district administer all or part of the K-ABC to ESL students?1. always^2, usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf part, which parts?^36.Does your district administer the T.O.N.I. to ESL students as part of thepsychological assessment?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverIf part, which parts?^37.Please list any other standardized and/or locally developed psychologicalassessment tests your district administers to ESL students?38.Does your district evaluate tests in terms of norms, validity, andreliability factors that relate to and/or could affect ESL students?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:39. Does your district use test results to prescribe treatment or interventionspecific to ESL students?1. always^2. usually^3. sometimes^4. neverAny comments:10740. Briefly describe the guidelines, if any, that your district follows todistinguish learning English As A Second Language difficulties from cognitiveprocessing problems.106APPENDIX II - LETTER TO SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTSMark Angerilli2872 McKenzie AvenueSurrey, B,C.V4A 3H4October 20, 1990NameTitleSchool DistrictStreetCity, ProvincePostal CodeDearI am a graduate student in Language Education at the the University ofBritish Columbia. I am conducting a study "The Procedures British ColumbiaSchool Psychologists Use to Assess English As A Second Language Students."The purpose of this study is to ascertain the testing instruments (i.e.standardized tests) and assessment procedures (i.e. classroom observation)used in assessment.I am asking you for permission to allow your district staffmember incharge of psychometric assessment to fill out a 30 minute questionnairedealing with the above mentioned study. I am also asking you for the nameof the staffmember so that I may directly contact her or him.All data will be kept highly confidential. My committee at the Universityof British Columbia and I will be the only people with access to theinformation. If you should have any questions or concerns regarding thisstudy please feel free to contact me at 538-8483 or my faculty advisor, Dr.Lee Gunderson, at 228-6287 (UBC). I am willing to send you the conclusionsof my study when it is completed. A self-addressed stamped envelope hasbeen enclosed for your convenience.Yours truly,109Mark AngerilliAPPENDIX III - FOLLOW-UP LETTER TO SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTSMark Angerilli2872 McKenzie AvenueSurrey, B.C.V4A 3H4December 28, 1990NameTitleSchool DistrictStreetCity, ProvincePostal CodeDearApproximately six weeks ago I wrote to ask for your permission toconduct a very brief survey in your district. Would you please reply as soonas possible whether or not that you have ESL students in your district.I am a graduate student in Language Education at the the University ofBritish Columbia. I am conducting a study "The Procedures British ColumbiaSchool Psychologists Use to Assess English As A Second Language Students."The purpose of this study is to ascertain the testing instruments (i.e.standardized tests) and assessment procedures (i.e. classroom observation)used in assessment.I am asking you for permission to allow your district staffmember incharge of psychometric assessment to fill out a 30 minute questionnairedealing with the above mentioned study. I am also asking you for the nameof the staffmember so that I may directly contact her or him.All data will be kept highly confidential. My committee at the Universityof British Columbia and I will be the only people with access to theinformation. If you should have any questions or concerns regarding thisstudy please feel free to contact me at 538-8483 or my faculty advisor, Dr.Lee Gunderson, at 228-6287 (UBC). I am willing to send you the conclusionsof my study when it is completed. A self-addressed stamped envelope hasbeen enclosed for your convenience.Yours truly,110Mark AngerilliAPPENDIX IV - INTRODUCTORY LETTER TO PARTICIPANTSMark Angerilli2672 McKenzie Ave.,Surrey, B.C.V4A 3H4January 5,1991NameStreetCity ProvPostal CodeDearI am a part-time graduate student in Language Education at the Universityof British Columbia and a full-time ESL teacher in a Lower Mainland schooldistrict. I am conducting a study "The Procedures British Columbia SchoolPsychologists Use to Assess English As A Second Language Students." Thisstudy has the potential of providing data indicating if ESL students in B.C. arebeing accurately psychologically assessed.Your superintendent has given permission for me to ask you if you would bewilling to take part in the study. For this study I am asking the person incharge of psychometric assessment in every school district in B.C. tocomplete a questionnaire: it takes less than 30 minutes. Your participationwould be, of course, voluntary. Please note that there is no jeopardy to yourjob if you should refuse to participate.All data will be kept confidential. Onlymy committee at the University of British Columbia and I will have access tothe information. I am willing to send you the results of my study when it iscompleted.If you have any questions or concerns regarding this study please feel freeto contact me at 538-8483 (Home) or my faculty advisor, Dr. Lee Gunderson,at 228-6287. (U.B.C.) I hope that you will agree to participate, and in thathope I am sending a questionnaire which you should receive in about oneweek. Thank you in advance for any co-operation you are able to give.Yours truly,Mark Angerilli111APPENDIX V - COVER LETTER TO PARTICIPANTSTHE PROCEDURES BRITISH COLUMBIA SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS USE TOASSESS ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE STUDENTS"February 11, 199 1Dear Respondent,This study is being conducted to find out what procedures and practices arebeing used to psychologically assess ESL students in the B.C. Public schoolsystem. As a professional in the field of assessment, your response will bemost valuable in compiling an overview of what is occurring in B.C.. Theaccuracy of this survey depends upon your willingness to answer thequestions. You are being asked to complete the enclosed questionnaire,which should take about 30 minutes of your time, and then return it. Youhave the right to refuse to participate; however, completion of thequestionnaire indicates that consent has been given. Also, please note thattheir is absolutely no jeopardy to your job if you should refuse to participate.A number code is being used to ensure that all data and identities will bekept highly confidential.I trust that your interest in assessment will ensure your co-operation andpromptness in replying. In order to make it more convenient, a self-addressed envelope has been enclosed with this questionnaire: 30 minutes ofyour time is all it will take,If you should have any questions or concerns regarding this study pleasefeel free to call me at 538-8483, or my faculty advisor Dr. Lee Gunderson at228-6287.Please note: I will donate $1.00 to Oxfam Canada for every completedquestionnaire that I receive within three weeks of my mailing.Yours truly,Mark AngerilliMA Candidate (Language Education)112APPENDIX VI - FOLLOW-UP LETTER TO PARTICIPANTS"THE PROCEDURES BRITISH COLUMBIA SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS USE TOASSESS ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE STUDENTS"March 9, 1991Dear Respondent,Approximately 4 weeks ago I mailed you a questionnaire concerning thepsychological assessment of ESL students. Please ignore this letter if youhave already completed and mailed the first questionnaire . If you havemisplaced it please take the time to complete this one as I believe that as aprofessional in the field of assessment, your response will be most valuablein compiling an overview of what is occurring in B.C.. The accuracy of thissurvey depends upon your willingness to answer the questions. You arebeing asked to complete the enclosed questionnaire, which should take about30 minutes of your time, and then return it. You have the right to refuse toparticipate; however, completion of the questionnaire indicates that consenthas been given. Also, please note that their is absolutely no jeopardy to yourjob if you should refuse to participate. A number code is being used toensure that all data and identities will be kept highly confidential.I trust that your interest in assessment will ensure your co-operation andpromptness in replying. In order to make it more convenient, a self-addressed envelope has been enclosed with this questionnaire: 30 minutes ofyour time is all it will take.If you should have any questions or concerns regarding this study pleasefeel free to call me at 538-8483, or my faculty advisor Dr. Lee Gunderson at228-6287.Please note: I will donate $1.00 to Oxfam Canada for every completedquestionnaire that I receive within three weeks of my mailing.Yours truly,Mark AngerilliMA Candidate (Language Education)113

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