Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners

  • Stefan C. Dombrowski


The degree of cultural and linguistic diversity in this country is large. Approximately 8 % of school aged children in the USA are limited in English proficiency (LEP) and would be considered English Language Learners (ELL). The heterogeneity among LEP is remarkable with over 400 different languages of which nearly three quarters speaks some dialect of Spanish (Rhodes, Ochoa, & Ortiz, 2005). The problem of accurately assessing culturally and linguistically diverse individuals has haunted the practice of psychological assessment within the USA for over a century and well before the infamous Larry P v. Riles case. The Larry P case led to the decade’s long avoidance of IQ tests in the state of California with African-American students. However, the misattribution of individual traits has plagued the field since at least the turn of the twentieth century. Woodworth, a prominent personality scale author, categorized various groups of Europeans according to stereotyped characteristics. For instance, Woodworth (1916) noted that Europeans who were blonde generally fared better in most endeavors in life. He also contended that those of a Slavic origin were prone to patience and humbleness while those of a Russian origin had a predilection toward melancholia while those from western Europe were haughty and aggressive. Continuing through the first and second World Wars, the IQ testing movement described Mediterranean and eastern European cultures as having inferior intellectual capacity while Scandinavian and northern European countries were thought to have superior intellect (Kamphaus, 2005). Of course, IQ tests during those periods were sufficiently culturally bound and biased to lead to misrepresentation of vast cultural groups. This legacy persisted through the early 1970s when IQ tests were judged to be biased against minority groups such as African-Americans to the extent that such tests where no longer permitted for use with such groups in the state of California.


Intellectual Disability English Language Learner Diverse Student Northern European Country Linguistic Factor 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan C. Dombrowski
    • 1
  1. 1.Rider University School Psychology ProgramLawrencevilleUSA

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