Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Jessica Glass-Kendorski, PhD, NCSP, BCBA-D, Chairperson

Second Advisor

Yuma Tomes, PhD, ABA

Third Advisor

Lucy Hernandez, PsyD


This qualitative research study responds to school psychologists’ experiences in assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse students. African Americans and other minority groups have been excessively represented in special education programs such as Mentally Retarded and Emotionally Disturbed Programs. English Language Learners have also been targeted and placed in special education programs unfairly due to culture and language. This research study used grounded theory approach in which several themes and sub-themes emerged regarding the serious problem of over-representation of minority students in special education. The themes and sub-themes included: Referrals (Behavior, Academic, Pre-referral); Materials (Tools); Culturally Competent (Reflection and Essence); Assessment (Students and Families); Over-representation (Bias Testing, Undetermined, Lack of skills, Language, Race/ethnicity, School culture/climate; and Roles (Duties). Based on this research study, which involved the recruitment of fifteen school psychologists (1 male and 14 female) the findings indicated the majority of school psychologists were not using all of the basic elements of a culturally competent assessment; therefore, their practices may be adding to the over-representation of minority students in special education programs.