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Assessment of African American Students: A Survey of School Psychologists. Presenters: Renée Dawson, Ph.D. Jennifer Simmons, M.S., ABSNP Diagnostic Center, Northern California. Diagnostic Center Team. Mary Anne Nielsen, Director Renée Dawson, Ph.D., Assistant Director

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assessment of african american students a survey of school psychologists

Assessment of African American Students: ASurvey of School Psychologists

Presenters:

Renée Dawson, Ph.D.

Jennifer Simmons, M.S., ABSNP

Diagnostic Center, Northern California

diagnostic center team
Diagnostic Center Team
  • Mary Anne Nielsen, Director
  • Renée Dawson, Ph.D., Assistant Director
  • Phoebe Howard, School Psychologist
  • Laurie Berberian, School Psychologist
  • Jennifer Simmons, School Psychologist
  • Marji Stivers, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist
purpose of survey
Purpose of Survey
  • The Diagnostic Center team surveyed school psychologists in Northern California to determine the following:
    • What tools and methods they use to assess African American (AA) students
    • Whether or not they are satisfied with these methods
    • Whether or not they believe current methods adequately assess AA students
  • Part of a larger endeavor to improve our assessment practices for AA students at the Diagnostic Center
history of larry p v riles
History of Larry P. v. Riles
  • Diana v. State Board of Education (1970)
  • 1971-72 Class Action suit on behalf of “minority children” who were overrepresented in EMR classes
  • 1975 State voluntarily placed a “moratorium on IQ testing” for placement in EMR
  • 1979 Judge Peckham ruled standardized intelligence tests “are racially and culturally biased…” (ban on IQ testing for placement in EMR)
  • 1984 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Peckham’s ruling
history of larry p v riles5
History of Larry P. v. Riles
  • 1986 CA issued a directive to ban IQ testing of AA students for placement in all special education programs
  • 1986 Larry P. Task Force issued general guidelines for assessment
  • 1992 Superintendent of Education, Bill Honig issued directive reconfirming the 1979 decision
  • 1997 Memorandum from the Department of Education reinforced the 1979 Larry P. Court decision, supported Larry P. Task Force guidelines, and listed prohibited tests based on the 1979 decision
larry p task force recommendations 1989
Larry P. Task ForceRecommendations, 1989

Outlined general procedures and suggestions for assessment and consideration of AA students for special education:

  • Become familiar with student background and culture
  • Use of consultation-intervention model
  • Establish well defined procedures and documentation for referrals
  • Examine for, request, and develop representative norms for tests
larry p task force recommendations 19897
Larry P. Task ForceRecommendations, 1989

Recommendations continued:

  • Employ alternative means of assessment; include personal history and development, adaptive behavior, classroom performance, variety of academic assessments, task analysis, learning processes and “learning potential”
  • Use of more professional judgment to determine discrepancy
  • Psychologists should meet and collaborate to establish guidelines and assessment procedures
actual outcome
Actual Outcome

“Unfortunately, more attention seems to have been paid to which tests the Task Force prohibited than to the complex issues about educational equity they raised.”

Powers, K., Hagans-Murillo, K., Restori, A.

disproportionality
Disproportionality

Using CDE database for 2005-06

  • AA students represent 7.8% of the public school enrollment and 11.5% of special education students
  • European American (EA) students represent 30.3% of the public school enrollment and they represent 34.8% of special education students
  • Consistent trend across the nation
disproportionality10
Disproportionality

Using CDE database for 2006-07

  • AA students represent 7.6% of the public school enrollment and 16.2% of special education students
  • European American (EA) students represent 29.4% of the public school enrollment and they represent 12.4% of special education students
  • Consistent trend across the nation
discrepancy model dilemma
Discrepancy Model Dilemma
  • Historically, school psychologists have been required to establish eligibility for Specific Learning Disability based on a discrepancy between ability and achievement
  • Most districts approach this as a mathematical equation
  • How can a psychologist establish a discrepancy without getting an ability score?
school psychologist survey
School Psychologist Survey
  • Survey was conducted during the 2005-06 school year
  • Sent to school psychologists in 345 school districts in our Northern California service area
  • 404 surveys returned
profile of respondents
Profile of Respondents
  • 50% of survey respondents serve up to 10% AA students
  • 50% of survey respondents serve between 10% and 100% AA students
  • Roughly representative of the school population in Northern California
slide15
Selection of two groups based on the response to the following question: What percentage of the students you assess is African American?

Percentages do not total 100 due to surveys with no response to this question

limitations of the survey
Limitations of the Survey
  • Problems with two-sided survey
  • Problems with unclear wording
  • Forced choice did not work for everybody
  • Similar comments made for yes and no responses (required us to do some interpretation)
does your district have a standard protocol for assessing aa students
Does your district have a standard protocol for assessing AA students?
  • 71% of respondents reported that their districts did not have a standard protocol
  • We asked respondents to attach their district’s protocol; we received none
  • A few respondents attached the Larry P. Task Force list of banned tests
  • “Yes” and “No” responders described similar approaches
spirit of larry p
Spirit of Larry P.

“Standardized intelligence test” in the context of our survey means:

  • Concurrent validity with WISC tests
  • Composite score measuring global ability
  • Inclusion of acquired knowledge
  • Group differences
  • Cognition, intelligence, ability considered interchangeable terms
slide21
What formal and informal assessment measures and procedures do you use to determine special education eligibility for AA students?
  • 260 of the 404 surveys (64.4%) list one or more standardized intelligence/cognitive ability tests (e.g., DAS, UNIT)
use of standardized intelligence tests
Use of Standardized Intelligence Tests

The more AA students a school psychologist serves, the more likely s/he is to use standardized intelligence tests (p ≤ 0.001)

slide23
Are you generally satisfied with the current methods you are using to assess African American students?

Respondents serving fewer AA students were more likely to report dissatisfaction (p ≤ 0.01)

  • Dissatisfaction was high in both groups
  • Potential Factors: Extent of experience or exposure? Cognitive dissonance? Availability of test materials?
do you feel that you get the information you need with your current procedures
Do you feel that you get the information you need with your current procedures?

Respondents serving more AA students were more likely to report that they get the information that they need (p ≤ 0.01)

slide25
Are there areas of functioning that you feel unable to assess adequately with your current procedures?

Because the wording of the question did not specify the functioning of African American students, some responders answered in more general terms. For example, several responders mentioned inadequacies in assessing second language learners. These responses were not included.

slide27
Is there a relationship between using standardized intelligence tests and satisfaction among psychologists?

Psychologists who are satisfied are slightly more likely to use standardized intelligence tests with AA students (p ≤ 0.5)

conclusions
Conclusions
  • Overrepresentation of AA students in special education persists despite the Larry P. mandate
  • School psychologists surveyed are not given guidelines by their districts
  • Widespread use of standardized intelligence tests with AA students continues in Northern California
  • Over 50% of school psychologists surveyed are not satisfied with the status quo for assessing AA students
our challenge
Our challenge

How do we conduct culturally appropriate assessments of African American students without using standardized intelligence tests?

where to find this presentation
Where to find this presentation
  • Diagnostic Center Website:
    • www.dcn-cde.ca.gov
    • Professional Development
    • 2008 CASP Presentation
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