Psychologist / Interpreter Work Standards for Conducting Bilingual Evaluations

The following information has been prepared in response to field requests concerning the use of licensed psychologists to conduct bilingual evaluations. It is designed to assist school administrators who contract with licensed psychologists to conduct psychological evaluations of children/youth who speak languages other than English when a New York State certified school psychologist with a bilingual extension is not available as a salaried district employee or through a contractual agreement between the district and another school district or BOCES.

The State Education Department distributed a June 1997 memorandum to many organizations, including public and nonpublic school officials and administrators, providers, elected officials, hearing officers, bilingual educators, teachers, parents groups, special education professionals, and related organizations.

The signers of this memorandum are the following State Education Department staff:

Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Associate Commissioner - Office of the Professions

Lawrence T. Waite, Coordinator - Special Education Services

Charles C. Mackey, Jr., Administrator - Teacher Certification Policy

Their memorandum follows below.

A cascade of options is provided to assist school administrators in selecting an appropriate psychologist and/or interpreter. These options are presented in the order of "most to least" recommended. A list of work standards is provided for personnel conducting the evaluation who do not hold a New York State certificate as a school psychologist with a bilingual education extension. These standards are to be used in determining qualifications of personnel who are not certified to conduct evaluations in the the child/youth's primary language only when an appropriately certified school psychologist is not available.

Limits of Practice

New York State certified school psychologists with a bilingual extension may conduct evaluations in elementary, middle, or secondary public schools only as salaried employees of the district or through a contractual agreement between their district and another school district or BOCES . A certified school psychologist who is not licensed under Article 153 cannot contract directly with a school district to provide psychological services, including evaluations. A person holding a school certificate as a school psychologist may be employed by exempt settings (e.g.: federal, State, county or municipal agency; other political subdivision; a chartered elementary or secondary school; or degree granting educational institution) and may conduct evaluations and provide other psychological services as a salaried employee of the exempt setting.

A board of education has no statutory authorization to contract with a licensed psychologist for the services provided by school psychologists unless so ordered by a Court of Law to ensure the timely provision of special education services and programs. When a public school district is the approved provider, a certified school psychologist would determine the need to contract with a licensed psychologist to conduct an evaluation based on an assessment of the child by a certified school psychologist.

I. Selection of a Psychologist to Conduct a Bilingual Evaluation

When a New York State certified school psychologist with bilingual extension with proficiency in the child/youth's primary language is unavailable, one of the following three options, presented in the order of "most to least" recommended, must be selected:

Option 1: New York State licensed psychologist who meets the New York State Recommended Bilingual Psychologist Work Standards.

Option 2: New York State certified school psychologist with bilingual extension with no or limited proficiency in child/youth's primary language with an interpreter proficient in the home language.

Option 3: New York State licensed psychologist who also meets the New York State Recommended Bilingual Psychologist Work Standards #2 - 6 with no or limited proficiency in the child/youth's primary language with an interpreter proficient in the child/youth's primary language.

II. Bilingual Psychologist Work Standards

Licensed psychologists who are asked to conduct an evaluation of a child/youth whose primary language or usual means of communication is a language other than English should meet the following standards:

1. Language proficiency in English and the student/youth's primary language including:


2.Knowledge of the culture of the child/youth's language group and an understanding of the impact of culture on performance and behavior.

3.Professional experience with culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) children and youth.

4.General knowledge of psycho-educational assessment and report writing for CLD children and youth in English and the primary language including the:


5.Knowledge of instructional interventions appropriate to the needs of CLD children and youth in general and special education settings including but not limited to native language and English as a second language instruction.

6.Knowledge of mental health interventions appropriate to the needs of CLD children and their families.

III. Selection of a Bilingual Interpreter

In some cases, a psychologist who is not proficient in the student's primary language may be required to conduct the evaluation with the assistance of an interpreter. The interpreter working under the direction of the psychologist will assist the psychologist in the evaluation in tasks such as the translation or communication of instructions, questions, test items and the interpretation of responses. It is strongly recommended that the interpreter be a professional staff member who is also trained as a school interpreter. The following selection options presented in the order of "most to least" recommended should be followed in selecting an interpreter who is proficient in the student's primary language to assist during the evaluation:

Option 1: New York State certified teacher or pupil personnel staff with a bilingual education extension in the child/youth's primary language working under the direction of the certified school psychologist or licensed psychologist.

Option 2: New York State certified teacher or pupil personnel staff with a New York State temporary license in bilingual education and proficiency in the student's primary language working under the direction of the certified school psychologist or licensed psychologist.

Option 3: Paraprofessional with proficiency in the student's primary language working under the supervision of the certified school psychologist or licensed psychologist.

Option 4: Community interpreter who is proficient in the student's primary language working under the supervision of the certified school psychologist or licensed psychologist. [Under no conditions shall a member of the student's immediate or extended family be used for evaluation assignments other than initial screening and general information gathering.]

IV. Bilingual Interpreter Work Standards

It is strongly recommended that interpreters be professionals who are trained to work in a school setting. An individual who serves as an interpreter to assist a psychologist who is conducting an evaluation in a language in which the psychologist is not proficient should meet the following standards:

1. Language proficiency in English and the child/youth's primary language including:


2.Knowledge of the culture of the child/youth's primary language group.

3.Experience with culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) children and youth.

4.General knowledge of testing practices and procedures.

Additional information on these standards can be obtained by contacting:

Dr. Peter M. Byron
New York State Education Department
Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID)
(518) 486-7462
or
Dr. Kathleen Doyle
New York State Education Department
Office of the Professions
(518) 474-3866.