The NASP 2009 Convention marked the first official meeting of the newly formed Bilingual School Psychology Interest Group, where approximately 45 practitioners, trainers, and graduate students were in attendance. The interest group was created in response to the lack of resources and consistency regarding the practice and training of bilingual school psychologists throughout the nation. A preliminary meeting was held during the NASP 2008 Convention in New Orleans to determine if there was an interest on behalf of the NASP membership to develop the group. Approximately 90 bilingual professionals representing all facets of our profession spoke openly about the dire need for a centralized forum geared toward issues related to practice with bilingual students and families. Shortly thereafter, a steering committee was formed to develop and facilitate future endeavors of the interest group.
The purpose of the Bilingual School Psychology Interest Group meeting, held during the NASP 2009 convention in Boston, was to accomplish several goals: (a) introducing interested participants to the coordinators and steering committee; (b) highlighting NASP resources and initiatives related to bilingual school psychology and multicultural topics; (c) discussing the rationale for the development of the group; (d) beginning a discussion regarding the development of a definitionfor "bilingual school psychology;" and, (e) gathering information from participants regarding current challenges in practice and training, and resources relevant to the practice of bilingual school psychology. To realize the last goal, members from the steering committee led small focus group discussions in five different areas: assessment, intervention implementation, consultation, working with parents, and working with administration/systems. Each group was required to answer specific questions relative to their topic so that information could be gathered and disseminated to members of the interest group via future events, the group Listserv, and the NASP online Community. Following the small -group discussions, each group shared their most salient discussion points with all of the interest group participants. The remainder of this article will highlight the discussions from the five domains related to bilingual school psychology as well as the groups' working definition of bilingual school psychology.
Assessment. The assessment focus group discussed several challenges facing the assessment of bilingual students. Two of the major challenges discussed were the lack of instruments in languages other than English and Spanish and the lack of a truly representative standardization sample that accounts for different levels of English language proficiency and acculturation. Group members shared their concerns regarding the validity of the interpretation of test scores that are obtained from standardized tests. Furthermore, participants added that there is no consensus regarding what constitutes best practices in bilingual assessment, which involves the assessment of a bilingual individual using tools and procedures in two languages. Group members agreed that there is a great need for research in this area so that standards for the training and practice of bilingual school psychologists and the assessment of bilinguals can eventually be established.
Consultation. The consultation focus group discussed the lack of knowledge and training on behalf of school personnel regarding how to properly instruct, intervene, and monitor the academic progress of bilingual students in a manner that is consistent with the developmental trajectory of the processes of second language acquisition and acculturation. The group emphasized the role of bilingual school psychologists as resources to teachers and other school staff. The group members suggested that bilingual school psychologists must integrate themselves into the school system so that their unique knowledge base can be disseminated throughout the school through the process of consultation.
Intervention. We are currently amidst an era of evidence-based practices in the schools. The intervention focus group discussed the need for more research that assesses the effectiveness of interventions for use with bilingual populations. Regardless of the focus of the intervention (mental health, academie, behavioral, parent training, etc.), for an intervention to be successful it must be both linguistically and culturally appropriate. Effective problem solving by school personnel must include consideration of cultural and linguistic variables for all cases that involve students and families from diverse backgrounds.
Working with parents. The group that focused on working with parents discussed the challenges of building connections between parents and the school community. There are many obstacles that prevent a good connection from being established that include language barriers, conflicting cultural beliefs, and scheduling conflicts, among others. One way to accomplish the goal of establishing good working relationships between parents and school personnel is by considering the needs and increasing the flexibility of both parties so that a balanced system can be implemented that is beneficial to students, parents, and school personnel.
Administration/ Sy stems. It is a challenge for any member of a school system to practice successfully without the support of the administration. The administration/systems focus group discussed the challenges of working with administrators and school systems. Due to the nationwide scarcity of bilingual school psychologists, they often become the point person for all assessments that involve bilingual students districtwide, and sometimes countywide. Such a narrow scope of practice often leads bilingual school psychologists into an isolated position that disconnects them from the school system. Furthermore, bilingual school psychologists are often not perceived as integral parts of the schools they are working with, but as external consultants coming in to work with the bilingual students. This further complicates their ability to integrate themselves and become key members of school systems, which prevents consultation and collaboration with school personnel and families and the dissemination of important information that is relevant to all students.
Defining bilingual school psychology/psychologist. Although there are only two states that have a specific credential for bilingual school psychologists (Sotelo-Dynega, Geddes, Luhrs, & Teague, 2009) , it would be a daunting endeavor at this point to require that all bilingual school psychologists be credentialed nationwide for a number of reasons that are beyond the scope of this article. However, this is something we strive to eventually achieve. Furthermore, there is currently no consensus regarding the definition of bilingual school psychology, which has led some to infer that bilingual school psychologists are school psychologists that just so happen to also be bilingual. Together, all of the participants of the Bilingual School Psychology Interest Group meetingproposed some pertinent factors that are critical in defining this specialty and that will serve as the foundation for a working definition of bilingual school psychology/psychologist. A bilingual school psychologist must be:
* Fluent in at least two languages, one of which must be English
* Culturally competent in all the domains of practice
* Trained on theories of second language acquisition
* Trained on the process of acculturation
* Trained on how the process of second language acquisition and acculturation affect the learning process
Be sure to visit the Bilingual School Psychology Interest Group Community at www.nasponline.org/communities/ default.aspx?g= topic s&f =41 to read a summary of the evaluation feedback from the convention meeting and to discuss relevant practice issues with colleagues. The Bilingual School Psychology Interest Group invites you to read more about the interest group, and to sign up for the Listserv at http:// www.nasponline.org/about_nasp/ig_ bilingual, aspx.
Sotelo- Dy n eg a, M., Geddes, L., Luhrs, A., & league, J. (2009). What is a bilingual school psychologist? A national survey of the credentialing bodies of school psychologists. Poster presented at the 2009 convention of the National Association of School Psychologists. Boston, MA.
MARLENE SOTELO-DYNEGA, PsyD, is an assistant professor in the Graduate Programs in School Psychology at St. John's University, Queens and Oakdale campuses, NY, and a member of the Bilingual School Psychology Interest Group's steering committee.…