Awareness and Sensitivity

Who is not from mainstream cultural awareness requires one to be attuned to the potential strengths and weaknesses of traditional standardized testing. In particular, the assessor must

(a) Demonstrate awareness and sensitivity regarding a client’s cultural background,

(b) Provide an assessment situation with suitable testing procedures, and

(c) Generate culturally appropriate interpretations within the larger social context. Precise recommendations in these three areas are offered in the hope that assessments will be as fair as possible for culturally diverse clients.

Awareness and Sensitivity

1. The assessor must learn as much as possible about the client’s culture. This knowledge needs to include the values and beliefs of the culture.

2. The assessor must learn about the educational process in the client’s culture. In particular, one needs to understand the methods of assessment the client has experienced.

3. The tester must recognize that language issues significantly affect the accuracy of assessment. Using translators or client advocates may improve the fairness of the assessment process when working with limited-English-proficiency clients.

4. The assessor, either formally or informally, needs to assess the client’s level of acculturation. The greater the acculturation, the greater the feasibility of comparing the client’s score to the published norms of a test.

5. The assessor must be aware of professional and ethical considerations when working with a diverse client. These guidelines are dis Appropriate Assessment Situation and Procedures

6. Assessors must understand that single-score assessment is inappropriate and select only tests that provide a comprehensive picture of the client’s abilities. Information should be sampled from a number of areas in order to demonstrate the client’s potential, keeping in mind that comprehensive assessment involves triangulation of testing, observation, and archival analysis in addition to a client’s educational, social, and cultural history.

7. The examiner needs to use tests of power rather than speed, as many culturally diverse clients are not accustomed to highly speed ed tests. This procedure assures their performance is based on their ability, rather than their inability to finish the test.

3. An assessor should use both verbally oriented and nonverbal tests.

By using both formats, one can promote a more balanced and, therefore, fair assessment process.

8. Culturally diverse clients exhibit more anxiety during a test situation than mainstream clients, due to the unfamiliarity of the task. To lessen the impact of this anxiety, the assessor must take time, albeit longer than usual, to establish rapport and describe any assessment expectations to the client.

9. Determination of the client’s language dominance must be done prior to testing. If the client’s dominant language is not English, the tester must consider supplementing the assessment with nonverbal instruments. For this purpose, the Raven matrices or other culture-reduced tests are recommended.

10. If the client’s dominant language is not English, the assessor needs to use a test translated or adapted into the client’s language, in conjunction with a nonverbal instrument. It is incumbent upon the assessor to evaluate translated and adapted instruments


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