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UCLA School Mental Health Project
Center for Mental Health in Schools
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Continuing Education: Unit II

Addressing Barriers to Learning
New Directions for Mental Health in Schools

Follow-Up Reading Continued:
Controversy Over Assessment

Controversy Over Assessment:
The Changing Sociopolitical Climate

Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, judicial decisions were an important sociopolitical factor influencing legislation, policy making, and practice. In the courts, parents and advocacy groups pushed for the rights of those with disabilities and equality of education and fought discrimination.

Hobson v. Hansen (1969): This was the first major case raising questions about placement in special education. The court ruled that using test scores to group students into "tracks" was unconstitutional because it discriminated against blacks and the poor.

Diana v. State Board of Education (1970): Here was a case in which the use of tests to place students was again challenged. Diana, a Spanish-speaking student in Monterey County, California, had been placed in a class for mildly mentally retarded students because she had scored low on an IQ test given to her in English. The court ruled that Spanish-speaking children should be retested in their native language to avoid errors in placement.

Larry P. V Riles (1972): Larry P. Was a black student in California, and his complaint led to an expansion of the ruling in the Diana case. The court ruled that schools are responsible for providing tests that do not discriminate on the basis of race. In the class-action case of PASE v. Hannon (1980), however, the fudge stated he could find little evidence of bias in the test items. The Larry P. Case also set a precedent for the use of data indicating disproportionate placement of minority groups as prima facie evidence of discrimination. However, subsequent cases have undermined this precedent (Marshall et a. v. Georgia [1984] and S-I v. Turlington [1986]).

In many ways, it is unfortunate that litigation is necessary. But it is. It seems that many questions about the appropriate treatment of those who do not "fit in" are so unsettled and unsettling as to require adjudication.

Some Basic References on Assessment in Schools

Learning Problems and Learning Disabilities: Moving Forward.
H.S. Adelman & L. Taylor. Brooks/Cole Publishing Co.; Pacific Grove, CA:1993.

J. Salvia & J.E. Ysseldyke. Houghton Mifflin Co.; Boston, MA: 1991.

Behavioral assessment.
E.S. Shipiro. In: Handbook of Behavior Therapy in Education. J.C. Witt, S.N. Elliot, & F.M.Gresham (Ed.s). Plenum Press: New York, NY: 1988. p. 67-98.

Measuring Up: Standards, Assessment, and School Reform.
R. Rothman. Jossey-Bass, Inc.; San Fransisco, CA: 1995.

Planning and Conducting Needs Assessment: A Practical Guide.
B.R. Witkins & J.W. Altschuld. Sage Publishers, Inc.; Thousand Oaks, CA: 1995.

ADHD in the Schools: Assessment and Intervention Strategies.
G.J. DuPaul & G.D. Stoner. Guilford Press; New York, NY: 1994.

Development of a questionnaire for assessing the school environment.
B. Melville, D. Brown, W. Segree, T. Paul, and others (1994-95). International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 15, 15-20.

Best Practices in Assessment for School and Clinical Settings.
H.B. Vance (Ed.). Clinical Psychology Publishing Co, Inc.; Brandon, VT: 1993.

Handbook on the Assessment of Learning Disabilities: Theory, Research, and Practice.
H.L. Swanson. Pro-Ed; Austin, TX: 1991

Brief Research Syntheses Available from the ERIC Clearinghouses.

The following are a few more of the many ERIC Digests (research syntheses) related to Assessment. They are available in libraries, over the Internet, or directly from the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) by phone, 1-800-LET-ERIC.

1995 -- ERIC Digest, number ED388 888 30. New Assessment Methods for School Counselors
1995 -- ERIC Digest, number EDO CG 95 3. Mental Health Counseling Assessment: Broadening One's Understanding of the Client and the Client's Presenting Concerns.
1995 -- ERIC Digest, number EDO CG 95 11. Emerging Student Assessment Systems for School Reform.

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