Date of Award:

2006

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Susan L. Crowley

Abstract

The disproportionate number of American Indian students receiving special education services indicates an ongoing need for research leading to improved assessment and placement practices with this population. Standardized tests are most often used to screen and select students for special education services. However, not all intelligence tests have been normed for use with all populations, especially where minority groups have been concerned.

While the merits of traditional intelligence tests must not be discounted, the emergence of new tests and assessment measures is encouraging, particularly for the assessment of American Indian students. A natural next step is to consider a traditional measure of intelligence, a more "culture fair" measure of intelligence, and behavioral indicators in the assessment of children to determine their utility with minority, in this case American Indian students. Thus, the present study investigated the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition and the Test of Nonverbal Intelligence-Third Edition as measures of intelligence for American Indian children receiving special education services, gifted and talented services, and those attending regular education classes. The current study also examined whether two psychosocial variables, academic achievement and behavioral incidents, were predictive of group membership. The sample for this study consisted of 90 American Indian children from the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation in northeastern South Dakota.

The results indicated that there were differences in how American Indian students performed on the various measures of intelligence. Youths in the special education group tended to have more severe behavioral incidents than the other two groups. Youths in the gifted group were more likely to have exceptional achievement than individuals in the other two groups. Examining the means on the six measures of intelligence for the three groups indicated that gifted students had the highest scores, followed by regular education students, and then special education students.

Academic achievement and behavioral incidents differentiated between the three groups in the expected manner. Therefore, teachers and administrators should be mindful of the fact that the three groups of students do not differ solely in terms of intelligence.

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