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Reliability of Psycho-Educational Assessments for Bilingual Students, Research Paper Example

Pages: 11

Words: 2933

Research Paper

Introduction

Psycho-educational assessment mainly involves various evaluation of the major psychological aspects of learning including academic skills, intelligence levels, language skills as well as visual skills and learners planning ability among many other psychological aspects of learners (Thorndike, 2011).  In most cases, the major academic skills evaluated using psycho-educational procedures include reading skills, writing skills as well as listening and spelling skills (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015).  According to various psychological studies and reports, it is also clear that psycho-educational assessments are mostly used to evaluate if learners have learning disabilities based on their intellectual potential, development and information processing (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).

Learners who experience learning disabilities usually have problems with their levels of information processing, intellectual capacity as well as other challenges in their score and academic achievements in school (Thorndike, 2011).   Therefore, in order to determine the extent of learner’s learning disabilities and problems psychologist, neurologist and educators usually use psycho-education assessment procedures to test the information processing and intelligence levels of various individuals in the society (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). This is mainly because psycho-educational evaluation and assessment procedures usually indicate how the human brain is working under various conditions (Salkind, 2013).

In that sense, the main purpose and aim of this research paper is to provide, outline and cover the reliability of psycho-educational assessment with bilingual students and indicate how it is a problem to the learners in schools. The paper will also provide the major findings and results from various previous research based literature based on the reliability of psycho-educational assessment for bilingual students.

Psycho-Educational Assessment

Psycho-educational assessment procedures and tests are mainly used in schools in order to measure the cognitive, behavioral and academic skills of learners in schools (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015). This is because the procedures and practices involved in psycho-educational assessment mainly evaluates the learner’s thinking levels, reasoning ability, academic achievement levels as well as socio-emotional and behavioral functioning of the learners in the society (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). It is also evident that psycho-educational assessment procedures measures these learning and academic achievement levels of the students in comparison to other learners in the school or class (Thorndike, 2011). In that sense, the main aim and objective of involving psycho-education evaluation practices to the learners is to identify their major strength and weakness based on their cognitive and academic levels of achievement (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). This usually allows the educators to provide the learners with appropriate additional support when necessary (Salkind, 2013).

Based on bilingual students, psycho-educational assessment are mainly done in order to address and evaluate the language, cognitive as well as academic and behavioral problems that these learners may face in the society (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).  In most cases, educators and psychologist usually allow students to undergo psycho-educational assessments in order to provide them with necessary special educational services in cases of problems with students (Thorndike, 2011).

Psycho-educational tests are used to determine whether learners or clients have learning disabilities, mental retardation, and attention problems among many other problems (O’bryon, & Rogers, 2010).   A good and effective psycho-educational assessment test should have referral questions, referral source, background procedures and interpretation of results (Thorndike, 2011). It is also imperative  and important to note that a good psycho-educational assessment should have relevant test procedures, results as well as summary and recommendations (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). Teachers and school psychologist should provide relevant recommendations for bilingual students in order to improve their learning skills (Salkind, 2013).

The use of tests such as norm-referenced academic achievement tests can be useful towards the provision of data related to the students’ academic functioning levels in school (Thorndike, 2011).   In most cases, the results from such tests can be used by educators and teachers in order to provide necessary support to the students (Salkind, 2013).

According to various psychological studies and reports, psycho-educational practices are mainly necessary in special educational services at school as well as in cases where the students’ needs remediation services (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). This is because the main aim of psycho-educational assessment practices is to evaluate the student academic and psychological problems that they may face towards the learning process in school (O’bryon, & Rogers, 2010). In most cases, psycho-educational assessment is recommended when the bilingual student is attending a specialized school in a native country or in cases where the doctor has discovered various special medical problems on the student (Thorndike, 2011). Psycho-educational assessment can also be administered when the student has educational disability thus the need for special education services such as language therapy (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).

Intake interview, review of the student medical records and consultation with the student family members also forms some of the procedures involved in the psycho-educational assessment (Thorndike, 2011). Memory problems, attention challenges, and poor brain development are some of the problems that can be prevented through the use of psycho-educational assessment. (O’bryon, & Rogers, 2010). Furthermore, behavioral, emotional and learning problems due to anxiety and depression can also be addressed through the psycho-educational process.

Reliability and Validity of Psycho-Educational Assessments for Bilingual Students

Psycho-educational assessment and evaluation procedures mostly involve a number of forms and practices including interviewing the learner, involving in brain imaging as well as genetic testing and other forms of intelligence testing procedures (Thorndike, 2011).   In most cases, the reliability of tests mostly occur when an assessment provides consistent information and results thus provide the researcher with high levels of accuracy (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).  According to a number of psychological reports and publications, there are two types of reliability that are usually imperative towards the administration of psycho-educational tests (Thorndike, 2011).  This includes inter-rater reliability tests and test-retest reliability psychological assessment.  Inter-rater reliability tests are mostly used when the test procedures give the same results especially when the same assessment procedures is used in the evaluation of the respondent or client (Thorndike, 2011).  Questionnaires or test with high inter-rater reliability mostly provide the same answers leading to same diagnosis procedures (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).  Current research studies and publications indicate that an entire psycho-educational assessment procedure usually takes around twenty to thirty hours (Patrick, Anderman, Bruening, & Duffin, 2011).

On the other hand, there are also the test-retest reliability psychological assessment methods that usually provides the same answer over and over despite the number of evaluation or tests involved (Patrick, Anderman, Bruening, & Duffin, 2011). One of the procedures and methods used to evaluate bilingual learners include the use of adaptive behavior systems. It involves five different forms of assessment and can be used in order to provide various information from a single student. It is usually used to provide valid, reliable, comprehensive and norm-based data based on the adaptive behaviors of bilingual students at all ages (Thorndike, 2011).    It is also culturally sensitive thus reduces and controls biases towards the evaluation of the students skills and abilities (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). Reliability of adaptive behavior evaluation process is usually based on high evidence of internal consistency especially indicating the internal coefficients of ninety and above (Thorndike, 2011).

According to several psychological studies and reports, the results and findings from psycho-educational assessments should usually be based on reliable and valid measurements (Thorndike, 2011). This is because reliability mostly promotes consistency of the test results and outcomes while validity ensures that the test accurately measures what it was supposed to evaluate from the learners (O’bryon, & Rogers, 2010). According to the American psychological association reports and the national association of school of psychologist publications, it is true that school psychologist should involve and use psychological tests in order to determine the cognitive and academic functioning of various learners in school (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).

Furthermore, the national center for education statistics also supports the provision of psycho-education assessment tests based on high validity and reliability procedures (O’bryon, & Rogers, 2010).   There are a number of bilingual learners in various schools in the United States (O’bryon, & Rogers, 2010). These learners speak other languages other than English thus fits in the bilingual category (Thorndike, 2011). It is also true from a number of recent psychological assessment data that there is high use of inadequate and inappropriate psycho-educational assessment practices especially towards the evaluation of bilingual students in the United States (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).

There are also various challenges and problems associated with inappropriate special education referral practices, limited training of bilingual psychological experts as well as restricted access to effective instructions and lack of understanding about language acquisition among many educators and teachers in the society (Lund, Miller, & Gang, 2014). However, due to the high increase in the number of bilingual students in many public schools in the country, NASP should recognize the need to establish stable and effective psycho-education assessment practices especially towards the promotion of psychological services of bilingual learners in the society (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). This will involve the provision of culturally and linguistically diverse methods such as teaching students new languages that promote their needs. This can also help the students to succeed in a number of areas including academically, socially, behaviorally as well as emotionally and physically (Lund, Miller, & Gang, 2014).

In order to promote the reliability and validity of psycho-educational assessment practices, psychologists in schools should promote and improve learners assessment practices, consultation services, intervention and family-school collaboration in order to promote the well-being of bilingual students in the society. School psychologist should work based on effective policies in order to monitor the progress of bilingual learners (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015). This will allow bilingual learners to develop their language acquisition skills thus enable them to excel both mentally and academically (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).

Moreover, the NASP also supports and promotes the adoption of the policies set by the individuals with disabilities education improvement systems towards the psycho-education assessment of bilingual students (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015). This also includes the protection of the rights of bilingual students and involves the administration of psycho-education evaluation tests to bilingual learners based on their native languages (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).

However, the use of non-verbal tests do not automatically provide reliability and validity of psycho-education evaluation tests and thus should be based on the relationship between the examiner and the examinee (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015).    Test results should not be based on the discriminatory practices in order to reduce the inappropriate interpretation of the test findings and results.  Furthermore, there is a need for further professional training in order to increase the knowledge and skills that school psychologist apply towards the assessment of bilingual students. There is also the need for proper consultation with the school psychologist and the students’ parents in order to enhance the teachers understanding of the bilingual students (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).

The individual with disabilities education policy mostly ensure that non-discriminatory assessment procedures are used towards the evaluation of bilingual students (Lund, Miller, & Gang, 2014).   In order to provide reliable and high quality results based on psycho-educational assessments, school psychologists usually work closely with interpreters and other qualified language experts in order to assess the needs of bilingual students in the school (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015).

Therefore, in order to promote the reliability and validity of data from psycho-education assessment of bilingual students it is imperative that school psychologists work closely with qualified language interpreters (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015). The school psychologists should also evaluate the student’s data and personal information from a number of sources in order to develop and create data-driven hypothesis based on the student past records and academic achievements (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013). It is also imperative that bilingual student’s psycho-educational assessments be done through the use of cultural and linguistic valid procedures (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015). This will allow the school psychologist to evaluate the problems the students face in their L1 and L2 languages (Sotelo-Dynega, Ortiz, Flanagan, & Chaplin, 2013).

According to various psychologists, one of the best psycho-educational assessment methods of determining the culturally and linguistically diverse nature of bilingual students include the culture language interpretive matrix (DiStefano, Hohman, & Barker, 2013).This method involves the use of linguistic demand practices in order to determine the cognitive abilities of the bilingual students (Lund, Miller, & Gang, 2014).

From a number of scholar’s previous studies viewpoints and perspectives, it is true that the use of psycho-educational assessment procedures has been criticized especially towards women, the economically disadvantaged individuals and other language minorities in the society (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015).  This is because the majority of individuals who oppose its use argue that it mainly contributes towards the promotion of social, economic and political barriers in the society (Lund, Miller, & Gang, 2014).  The procedure also lacks fair assessment practices towards the comparison of different learners in the society (O’bryon, & Rogers, 2010). In that sense, there is need for formulation of standard test procedures by education policy makers in the country in order to reduce problems associated with psycho-educational assessment in the evaluation of students from different social and economic backgrounds (Harris, Sullivan, Oades-Sese, & Sotelo-Dynega, 2015).

Recommendations

Based on the findings and results from this research-based study, it is evident that the use of psycho-educational assessment for bilingual students prove to be problematic as it promotes the socio-economic differences and also lacks fairness towards the comparison of different learners in the society. In that sense, the education policy makers and school psychologist should develop and create a standard testing methods in order to evaluate the cognitive and language skills of the students. Furthermore, psychologists should work closely with qualified language interpreters in order to promote their analysis of the student’s outcomes and problems from the evaluation tests and provide necessary special educational support.

Psychologists should also involve a number of sources to promote gathering of information from the bilingual students. This sources and information obtained should be analyzed based on standardized testing procedures in order to avoid cultural biases in the analysis.  Comparison of different learners should be based on culture specific data. It is also imperative that school psychologist note and differentiate between language disorders and the student’s language acquisition developmental process.  Reliability and validity of the psycho-educational assessment method can be promoted through including bilingual experts, family as well as teachers in the process.  The school psychologist should also be aware of the current and best practices for intervention and promotion of the students educational functioning in school.

In cases of communication difficulties, the school psychologist should allow the students to seek referral services such as communication therapy. This will ensure that learners are provided with the best support in line with their educational goals and objectives.  There is also the need for more training of school psychologist in order to address the high number of bilingual students in various countries. This will provide a stress-free environment to students and their parents thus allowing children to achieve their full academic potential.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is evident from this research-based paper that psycho-educational assessment is an evaluation and measurement procedure that is mainly used school psychologists, educators, and neurologist in order to determine the cognitive functioning, educational achievement and emotional abilities of the learners in the society. In most cases, educational policy makers used results ad findings from psycho-educational assessment in order to create their educational planning procedures.  The major sources of assessment information include student’s educational history, behavioral data as well as adaptive behaviors.

The major types of test common in psycho-educational assessments include intelligence tests, achievement tests, cognitive tests as well as behavioral and attention tests.  Academic tests mostly involve a number of academic areas including reading, writing, calculations and oral expression skills. In education settings, school psychologists are the only authorized individuals to perform psycho-educational tests to students.

Reliability and validity of the tests forms one of the important factors that should be considered by school psychologist before administering a psycho-educational assessments. This is because reliable tests provide consistent information and results over time. It is also true from this research paper that valid test have the ability to measure what it is supposed to measure and evaluate. Finally, it is worth noting that psycho-educational assessment can be used to measure the student cognitive, and academic weaknesses and strengths thus reduce student difficulties and challenges in school.  This usually allows the student to avoid their weaknesses in order to achieve their full potential in school.

References

DiStefano, L. G., Hohman, M., & Barker, M. (2013). The Group Topic Evaluation Scale: Preliminary Validity, Reliability, and Use in Psycho-educational Groups. Social Work with Groups, 36(4), 292-303.

Harris, B., Sullivan, A. L., Oades-Sese, G. V., & Sotelo-Dynega, M. (2015). Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Practices in Psycho-educational Reports for English Language Learners. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 31(2), 141-166.

Lund, E. M., Miller, K. B., & Gang, J. B. (2014). Access to Assessment? Legal and Practical Issues Regarding Psycho-educational Assessment in Children with Sensory Disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 25(3), 135-145.

O’bryon, E. C., & Rogers, M. R. (2010). Bilingual school psychologists’ assessment practices with English language learners. Psychology in the Schools, 47(10), 1018-1034.

Patrick, H., Anderman, L. H., Bruening, P. S., & Duffin, L. C. (2011). The Role of Educational Psychology in Teacher Education: Three Challenges for Educational Psychologists. Educational Psychologist, 46(2), 71-83.

Salkind, N.J. (2013). Test and Measurement for People Pho (Think They) Hate Test and Measurements, 11-400.

Sotelo-Dynega, M., Ortiz, S. O., Flanagan, D. P., & Chaplin, W. F. (2013). English Language Proficiency and Test Performance: An Evaluation of Bilingual Students with the Woodcock-Johnson Iii Tests of Cognitive Abilities. Psychology in the Schools, 50(8), 781-797.

Thorndike, R.M.  (2011). Measurement and Evaluation in Psychology and Education (8th Edition), 122-528.

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