A Bilingual (English & Spanish) Psychoeducational Assessment MODEL Grounded in Cattell-Horn Carroll (CHC) Theory: A Cross Battery Approach

Article excerpt

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act mandates nondiscriminatory assessment for children who are culturally and linguistically diverse. Because of the overrepresentation of English Language Learners (ELL) in special education programs in the United States, the focus of this article is the psychoeducational assessment of Spanish-and English-speaking children who are classified as ELL. This article presents a bilingual assessment model that incorporates CattellHorn Carroll (CHC) based instruments. The premise of this model is that a learning disability is manifested in L1 (primary language) and L2 (secondary language). The writers present cognitive assessments that are available in English, Spanish, and nonverbal modalities that utilize CHC as the underlying theory. By incorporating these assessments, the school psychologist is in a better position to analyze L1 and L2 assessment data and gain a clearer understanding of strengths and weaknesses and provide linguistically appropriate interventions.

KEYWORDS: bilingual assessment, cultural linguistic diversity (CLD), Cattell-Horn Carroll (CHC) theory, nondiscriminatory assessment, cross battery assessment, learning disability.

School psychologists across the United States are asked to assess children from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Although a myriad of non-English languages arc spoken, Spanish is the most common (Ochoa, Riccio, & Jimenez, 2004). As this trend is also evident in the educational system, it is imperative that school psychologists are prepared to adequately assess and intervene with children who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD). In many cases, children who are in the process of learning English appear to have the same learning challenges as those children who are suspected of having learning disabilities (Diaz-Rico & Weed, 2002). Accordingly, an overrepresentation of CLD children within special education programs has been documented (Oswald & Coutinho, 2001). This trend is especially evident when considering English language learners (ELL) placed in special education programs (Artiles, Rueda, Salazar, & Higareda, 2005). In addition, using the traditional discrepancy model and a limited scholastic review of students has contributed to educational misplacement and poor intervention (Abedi, 2008). Thus, school psychologists need to be equipped with nondiscriminatory assessment procedures to adequately differentiate normal English language development (ELD) manifestations from specific learning disabilities (SLD).

Part of identifying SLD in bilingual children involves conducting a bilingual assessment. A bilingual assessment is one conducted in both Ll (primary language) and L2 (secondary language) by a qualified school psychologist who is fluent in both languages, or a monolingual English school psychologist working with a qualified interpreter (Rhodes, Ochoa, & Ortiz, 2005). A qualified interpreter is one who is fluent in the language and has firsthand knowledge of the culture. Although beyond the scope of this discussion, interpretation requires that the interpreter accurately express not only the content but also the emotional/affective nuances of the language. Interpreters need the following skills: to maintain neutrality and confidentiality; to adhere to ethical guidelines; to understand technical terms, procedures and rationale of the process of assessment; culture and language experience; and knowledge of key/critical issues that may arise (Rhodes et al., 2005). Lopez (2002) provides a list of suggested practices for school psychologists utilizing interpretation services.

Because it is an "empirically supported psychometric theory structure of cognitive abilities and academic abilities" (Alfonso, Flanagan, & Radwan, 2005, p. 185), the writers will utilize Cattell-Horn Carroll (CHC) Theory as an underlying approach for cognitive assessment. In addition, the writers will discuss CHC-based cognitive assessments that are available in English, Spanish, and nonverbal modalities that can assist during the assessment process. …