Is Using Psychological Test Battery Ethical or Appropriate?

Psychological testing in schools involves using samples of behavior so as to access psychological functions such as the emotional functioning and cognitive ability of a particular child. The most common method relies on the individual's mean score on a test. The test results are then compiled and the evaluator compares behavior of the particular individual to the mean scores of a normal predefined population in respect to the behavioral trait being measures. After comparing the tests, the evaluator is able to determine the psychological competence of the individual depending on whether the score is poorer or higher than that of the norm population. Special educators, primary school teachers, pre-school teachers, and infant intervention providers normally use similar test to assess the cognitive ability of a child.

Using battery tests is controversial as each test has a validity limitation and cannot lead to accurate conclusions. The psychologist evaluator may need to perform a full battery of tests which raises the financial burden for parents. Most psychology tests do not reflect the purpose of the evaluation. IQ tests are subjective and do not reflect the individual capability of each student. Most battery tests have insufficient validity and they result in distorted conclusions when used as the sole determinant of a child's welfare. Since every child is a unique individual, use of similar battery tests makes it impossible to conduct an assessment of the crucial areas in relation to each child.

The real life conditions under which a child fails or thrives have proved to be more reliable than battery tests. The unbiased observations of an experienced teacher about how a child functions socially and academically provide a more reliable opinion about the welfare of the child. Over-reliance on battery tests can result in injustice for children and parents. Sometimes psychology evaluators also breach ethical procedures and standard test administration protocol by having tests conducted by office staff since battery tests are similar. This leads to violation of civil rights of both the child and the parents.

Battery tests normally disregard the age of the child, the context of the living standard of the child, and the community in which the child is brought up. Standardized assessment measures cannot apply equally to mono-lingual and bi-lingual children. Similar battery tests often result in misrepresentation of the findings of the evaluation about a child's abilities and may lead to under-diagnosis or over-diagnosis of the child. School psychologists should strive to develop a tailor made test for each of the children under study so as to avoid misrepresentation and misdiagnosis about the welfare of the child.

To determine whether use application of battery tests is ethical or appropriate, school psychologists have to use the legal and ethical decision making model. The decision making model requires the school psychologist to describe the problem situation; determine the potential legal and ethical issues involved: Consult the legal and ethical guidelines that are applicable in the situation. It is imperative to consider specific mandates as well as legal principles and to consult other professionals; The next step is for the school psychologist to evaluate the welfare, rights and responsibilities of all affected parties including siblings, parents, classmates, teachers, and the student; The psychologist then has to consider the issues involved and generate a list of alternative decisions for each one of them; he psychologist then proceeds and determines the possible long-range, on-going, and short-term consequences of each alternative; Evidence that any of the possible benefits or consequences will occur has to be reviewed; Finally the psychologist has to accept responsibility for decision making and make a decision. The consequences of the decision made must be constantly monitored.

Compare and Contrast Chapter 14 Regulations and NASP Ethical Principles in terms of: fidelity; non-malfeasance; beneficence; justice and Autonomy

The NASP principles also require that school psychologists must respect the dignity and rights of all persons. The must only engage in professional conduct and fulfill the law. They must maintain the dignity of children, parents and any other stake holders. They must show respect for the right to autonomy and self-determination by acting under consent and assent of the parties involved. They must respect the right to privacy and observe confidentiality by ensuring that they do not disclose client information to unauthorized third parties.

School psychologists must be committed to fair and just treatment of all persons. § 14.102, of the Special Education Regulations provides that the purposes of the regulation is to ensure that the rights of parents of children with disabilities are protected as well as the rights of the children themselves and to ensure that early intervening services are only used to promote the success of a student with a disability in a general education environment. § 14.104 (b) (5) provides that policies and procedures must be place to avoid inappropriate identification of the child's ethnicity or race. § 14.121(c) provides that parents are to be issued with annual notifications of the mechanisms put in place to ensure confidentiality of information relating to children with disabilities and their parents.

The principle of beneficence refers to responsible caring must take extremely high care of the patients. The principle of malfeasance means that school psychologists must not do harm to others and must act to benefit others. To be able to accomplish the requirement, school psychologists must always use evidence-based knowledge from education and psychology and must act within the boundaries of their competence so as to help clients to make informed choices. § 14.133 requires that school psychologists must use positive behavioral support so that children are free from unreasonable use of restraints, use of aversive techniques, and demeaning treatment. They must use techniques that lead to self-fulfillment of the disabled child. School psychologists must always be ready to accept blame and responsibility for their work. § 14.105 on personnel provides that personnel including psychologists working with disabled children must be assessed to meet a rigorous standard of quality; must possess an associate degree or higher; and must have completed 2 years of post secondary study.

School psychologists are under a duty t o maintain honesty and integrity in professional relationships. They must develop and maintain trust and must adhere to professional promises. They must uphold fidelity to the truth at all times. They must maintain honesty, transparency and fidelity in relation to their competencies, qualifications, and roles. To effectively meet the needs of children and their families they must fully cooperate with professionals in other disciplines. They must avoid establishing multiple relationships with various clients so as not to diminish their effectiveness in the profession. § 14.105 provides that while school psychologists and personal care assistants may provide support to more than one child, the support cannot be provided at the same time.

School psychologists owe a responsibility to the profession, families, schools, and the general society. They must promote healthy social relationships and must respect the law and uphold ethical conduct so as to maintain public confidence. § 14.121(b) requires that every school district must conduct public awareness to inform the general public about special education services and early intervention programs ; and also inform the public about the procedure of requesting for programs and services. Annual publication notifications have to be issued to notify the community about the child identification procedures. This helps in instilling public confidence and trust. Mentoring less experienced psychologists advances their professional experience and contributes to the psychology knowledge base in the school.