School Psychology Services for English Language Learners

This research theme has pursued a number of projects centered around school psychology services for English Learners.

Multi-tiered Systems of Support for Multilingual Learners

In this program of research we are focused on understanding how to modify MTSS to better serve multilingual learners. For example, how should school psychologists and special education teams examine data differently considering the unique needs of multilingual learners? How should processes for universal screening and progress monitoring be adapted? How can MTSS teams better serve multilingual learners?

With the growth in the English Language Learner (ELL) population, an important issue for schools is using screening and progress monitoring data on academic skills to effectively support ELLs. A focus of this program is developing best practices for school teams in the evaluation of screening and progress monitoring data (such as Curriculum-based Measurement) for students at various levels of English proficiency. Better use of screening and progress monitoring data may help to reduce the reliance on standardized test results and lead to more appropriate intervention and eligibility decisions.

One of the initial publications from this project is available in School Psychology Review This article describes how school teams can better use data on English proficiency and reading growth to make better intervention and referral decisions for multilingual learners. Future projects will build on these ideas to provide more guidance to school psychologists and special education teams when working with multilingual learners.

ELL Assessment Practices of Washington School Psychologists

This program of research has explored current practices and also training needs of school psychologists in the area of assessment of English Language Learners. One the most challenging assessment situations for school psychologists is dealing with a referral for academic concerns for multilingual/English learners. School psychologists need to rule out the possible influence of various other factors when determining whether a learning disability might be the primary contributor to academic difficulties. Many of the assessment tools (academic and cognitive tests) that school psychologists use may not be appropriate for use with students who are English Language Learners, and when they are used extreme care is needed when interpreting results. 

The first phase of the program was a survey of school psychologists in WA state. The survey was adapted from a previously published study conducted in the Midwestern US (Marrs & Eccles, 2009 LINK). During the 2017-2018 academic year, the research team surveyed school psychologists across the state and some initial data analysis was completed. Results from this research program have been presented at the National Association of School Psychologists annual convention.

Needs of Mixtec Students in Washington Schools

This project explored the educational and social needs of a unique cultural group in the state of Washington. Many students from Mixtec backgrounds have unique needs due to their previous experiences with education as well as their language backgrounds. This project focused on developing a broader knowledge of Mixtec students and identifying ideas for school districts to better serve this population. Results from this project were presented at the National Association of School Psychologists annual convention as well as the CWU Symposium on University Research and Creative Activities (SOURCE).