We had an amazing day of professional development at our annual Winter Retreat this year! We started off the morning with Nia Thomas, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder and Editor of Bilingual Resources, who presented on Culturally Responsive Evaluations and Intervention. Our key takeaway from her presentation was that the disparity between the cultural diversity of therapists and that of the students we serve has not improved in the last 2 decades. This makes it all the more important to be aware of our own implicit biases, and ensure that we are conducting valid evaluations and assessments for all students.
Perhaps the most stunning and mind-blowing fact from Ms. Thomas’ presentation is that standardized testing is not a legal requirement when evaluating for Special Education. (Wait. What?!) Ms. Thomas shared concerns with the validity of standardized tests and further revealed the extreme bias and lack of reliability validity of the Spanish CELF-5. The scope of our evaluation is not limited to standardized assessments – as clinicians, we can use other resources to really get to the root of what a student is struggling with. Here are some tools Nia added to our toolbox:
- Culturally-sensitive interview forms, and how to ask sensitive questions
- Dynamic assessment
- Non-word repetition tasks (NWRT), which are a strong predictor of disability
- Language sampling
- Free Resources for NWRT and language sampling from the Leaders Project website from Columbia University
- How to include information in evaluation reports on why standardized tests do not apply
Dr. Kyomi Gregory-Martin, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor, Pace University joined us in the afternoon to present on Cultural Humility for Health Care Professionals.
Dr. Gregory-Martin led a discussion around race, responding to microaggressions, and how to respond if you’ve been culturally insensitive. Being anti-racist is a process. We will always have to examine our beliefs and make adjustments. She stressed the importance of a nonbinary paradigm for thinking about our actions and that of others.
Together, we viewed a Ted talk by Jay Smooth (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race), where Mr. Smooth used the refreshing and hilarious analogy of “spinach in your teeth” to let others know if they said something racist or offensive.