First Official Meeting of the Bilingual School Psychology Interest Group

Article excerpt

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. …