Multicultural Competence: Best Practices
for Serving Students, Parents, and
Teachers in the 21st Century
Objectives: The LSSP should be able to:
 Describe disproportional ethnic representation in
educational programing
 Describe how characteristics of schools, teachers,
families, and students influence disproportional
representation and school success
 Describe how improved multicultural sensitivity with
schools and teachers can improve disproportional
representation and school success
 List approaches to improving practices in
consultation and assessment
Why should we care?
 Diversity of US
 Ethical obligations
 Moral obligations
 Impact on practice
What is Necessary to be Culturally Competent
 Understanding yourself
 Understanding others
 Understanding the interplay between the two
Ethnic Representation in Educational
 Academic
 Pre-referral
 Special Education
 Gifted and Talented
 Behavior
 Office referrals
 Disciplinary placement
 Dropout
Quick Quiz!
When compared with
white students:
Which group is more likely
to be identified as MR?
Which group is more likely
to be identified as ED?
Which group is more likely
to be identified as LD?
Which group is more likely
to participate in GT?
Which group is less likely to
participate in GT
Which group is more likely
to participate in free
African American
African American
Native American
Asian Americans
African American,
Native American and
Hispanic American
AA and Hispanic
Academic Representation
 Hispanic and AA > to receive info about free tutoring
 Hispanic and AA > to receive free tutoring
 Children of color > referral for special education
 Children of color > in particular settings and
 Children of color < to participate in GT curriculum.
Disciplinary Representation
 African American students > referrals, suspensions,
 Inequity in discipline for similar offenses
 African American and Hispanic students > referred
and placed in DAEPs for discretionary versus
mandatory reasons.
 Drop rates in order: Asians/Pacific Islanders ~
Whites < Blacks < Hispanics
Culture-Related Issues Contributing to
and School Failure
 Generally fall in two categories
 Teacher/System related sources
 Family and Community
Teacher/System Related Sources
 Use of assessment tools that do not accurately
measure ability and potential
 Inequity of resources and funds to properly address
 Minimization of family and community involvement
 Failure to track trends of disproportionality
Teacher-Related Perceptions and Behavior
 Teachers rarely recognize or acknowledge culture as
an issue in the classroom
 Research supports differential treatment of students
based on
 What are the behavioral and academic implications for
these differences in communication and expectations?
 What can you do?
During the pre-referral stage (proactive approaches)
During the referral stage
 Paying attention to verbal and nonverbal communication
 Understand differences and sources of student
participation, interest, and how to use these differences
Family/Community-Based Sources
 Low socio-economic status; residing in more urban
areas; low parental involvement
 Lower level of parental educational attainment/less
value placed on education
 Family’s marginalized school experiences
 Family’s lack of trust of educators and educational
 What are the behavioral and academic implications
for children whose families/communities struggle
with these sources of cultural challenges ?
 What can you do?
 During the pre-referral stage (proactive approaches)
 During the referral stage
Identity Development
 Identity development affects such constructs as
motivation, competence, achievement
 Complex concept: includes such issues as gender and
Ethnic Identity Defined
 Includes two processes
Integrating ones own beliefs
Integrating the beliefs of the environment
Acculturation in Immigrants
 Two Models:
 Unidimensional – adopt host-culture beliefs and values and
disregard their own
 Bi-dimensional – acculturation occurs on two different
Host culture
Native culture
Acculturation in Immigrants
 Needs of students from ethnic groups differ based on
longevity in U.S.
Inverse relationship between high school achievement and # of
years family in US
Willingness to seek psychological help found to be related to
level of acculturation1
Why is Ethnic Identity is Important in
the Context of School?
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
George Santayana
 History
 Desegregation – awareness of ethnicity thought to be cause for
lower self-esteem
 School strove to reduce or ignore differences among groups
 Research supported that acknowledging and honoring
differences had positive effects
Why is Ethnic Identity is Important in
the Context of School?
Theories and goals of education don't matter a whit if you don't consider
your students to be human beings.
Lou Ann Walker
 Significantly contributes to the understanding of risk
and resilience.
 May impact:
Psychological adjustment
Interpersonal Interactions – peer and teacher
African Americans Students & Ethnic Identity
 Psychological adjustment
  EI associated with  self-esteem9
 African Americans  self-esteem than Hispanic, White, and
Asian students13
 EI development have been found to be and indicator of 
levels of depression and positive general emotional
African Americans Students & Ethnic Identity
 Interpersonal relationships
 Multiculturalism as a coping mechanism
 Academic Achievement
 EI was found to be correlated with GPA
 African American students typically do not rate themselves
low on intelligence, academic ability
 Some evidence suggests that African American children are
less likely to link academic achievement to self-concept
 Behavior
 EI associated with both externalizing and internalizing
problems (Unlike white students)
 Positive EI associated with more active coping, fewer beliefs
supporting aggression, and fewer aggressive behaviors
White Students and Ethnic Identity
 Psychological adjustment
 Positive adjustment (depression, emotional) is not as strongly
linked to higher level of EI as in African Americans, but some
relationship does exist
 Lower levels of identity do predict difficult adjustment
 Similar level of self-esteem with Hispanic students, higher
than Asian students
Hispanic Students and Ethnic Identity
 Psychological Adjustment
 Consistent self-esteem with that of White students
 Achievement
 Hispanic students rated themselves lowest on intelligence
Asian Students and Ethnic Identity
 Psychological adjustment
 Asian Students found to have the lowest level of Self-esteem
 Achievement
 Self-concept connected to academic achievement
Native Americans Students & Ethnic Identity
 Achievement
 Persistence greater for students who’s EI was more well
developed 11
 Psychological Adjustment
 No conclusive relationship found between EI and
psychological adjustment
 Higher level of EI and Ego development helps competence, but
intensifies emotional experiences
Native Americans Students & Ethnic Identity
 Behavior
 Impulsive Native American adolescents found to have least
developed EI and highest level of interpersonal vulnerability
 Higher levels of EI associated with lower aggression, social
problem behavior
 Interpersonal relationships
 Higher levels of EI associated with less peer conflict
 System-wide:
 Identify school factors contributing to difficulties
 Enlist diverse multidisciplinary planning teams
 Provide high quality pre-referral services
 Learn culturally appropriate behavior management strategies
 Alternative assessment methods
 Diversify curriculum
 Provide “Bridge” programs
Approaches Continued...
 Teacher
 Provide culturally appropriate and diverse behavior
management strategies
 Provide alternative explanations for teacher observations
 Encourage cultural self-awareness
 Encourage higher expectations
 Provide concrete information
Approaches Continued...
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and
write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. Alvin Toffler
 Family and Child
 Set higher standards and provide realistic honest feedback
 Emphasis the pragmatic and relevant function of education
in the lives of specific groups
 Institute practices that embed achievement as part of
students ethnic identity
Approaches Continued...
 Do not focus on programs that raise self-esteem1 as
the main outcome
 Encourage the exploration of ethnic identity
 Focus should include both in-group and the greater
 Identify the problem you are attempting to intervene
on, and correctly link intervention
Culturally Sensitive vs. Culturally Based
 Culturally based:
 Programs or interventions that combine culture, history, and
core values as agents to encourage behavior change
 Culturally Sensitive :
 In addition to cultural base, relative historical, environmental,
and social forces are incorporated into the design,
implementation, and evaluation of materials and programs12
Culturally Sensitive vs. Culturally Based
 Surface
 Includes external characteristics of culture
 Serves identification purposes
 Improves acceptance of message
 Deep
 Includes more embedded characteristics
 Involves how group members perceive issue
 Implications for the salience of the program for groups
Culturally Sensitive vs. Culturally Based
 Culturally Sensitive, Deep Structure programs:
 Incorporate core beliefs and values of a group
 Incorporate culture in both how they are developed and in the
content of the program
 Focus on the needs and strengths of the population they serve
 Resolving Conflict Creatively Program
K-12 program in social and emotional learning
Involves multiple support areas
Results demonstrate significant social and academic
 Project Aim
 Focus on reducing risk behaviors by increasing interest in
development as an adult
 Fosters interest in a positive future self by including and
discussing cultural models
 Results indicated reduction in at-risk sexual behavior
 School-to-Jobs Program
 Focus is on self-concept, school bonding, performance
 Research indicates significant improvements in all areas for
program participants
Identity References
1. Chung, R. H. G., Bryan, S. K, & Abreu, J. M. (2004). Asian American
multidimensional acculturation scale: Development, factor analysis, reliability,
and validity. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 10, 66-80.
2. Demmert, W. G. (2005). The influences of culture on learning and assessment among
Native American students. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20, 16-23.
3. French, S. E., Kim, T. E., & Pillado, O (2006). Ethnic identity, social group membership, and
youth violence. In N. Guerra, & E.P. Smith (Eds.) Preventing youth violence in a multicultural
society. (pp. 47-73) Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
4. Fusick, L. B., & Wendy C. (2004). Counseling at-risk Afro-American youth: An
examination of contemporary issues and effective school-based strategies. Professional School
Counseling, 8, 109-115.
5. Guerra N., & Smith, E.P. (Eds.) Preventing youth violence in a multicultural society.
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
6. Holcomb-McCoy, C. (2005). Ethnic identity development in early adolescence:
Implications and recommendations for middle school counselors. Professional School Counseling,
7. Peterson, R. L., & Ishii-Jordan, S. (1994). Multicultural issues in the education of
students with behavioral disorders. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Brookline Books.
8. Pizarro, M., (2005). Chicanas and Chicanos in school: racial profiling, identity battles,
and empowerment / Marcos Pizarro. Austin : University of Texas Press.
9. Phinney, J. S. (1992). The multigroup ethnic identity measure: A new scale for use
with diverse groups. Journal of Adolescent Research, 7(2), 156-176.
10. Nelson, C. M., Leone, P. E., & Rutherford, R. B. (2004). Youth delinquency:
Prevention and intervention. In Rutherford, R. B., Quinn, M. M., Mathur, S. R.
Handbook of research in emotional and behavioral disorders. Pp. 282-301. New
York: Guilford Press.
11. Newman, D. (2005). Ego development and ethnic identity formation in rural
American Indian adolescents. Child Development, 76, 734-746.
12. Resnicow, K., Soler, R., & Braithwaite, R. L. (2000). Cultural sensitivity in substance
use prevention. Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 271-290.
13. Roth, B. M. (2005). Self-Esteem, ethnicity, and academic performance among American children.
In C.L. Frisby, & C. R. Reynolds (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of multicultural school psychology
14. Umaata-Taylor., A. J. (2005). The Ethnic Identity Scale. In, What do children need
to flourish: Conceptualizing and measuring indicators of positive development.
Series Title: The Search Institute series on developmentally attentive community
and society. (pp75-91).
15. Wigfield, A., & Wagner, A. L. (2005). Competence, motivation, and identity
development during adolescence. Handbook of competence and motivation. Pp.
16. Yasui, M., Dorham, C. L., & Dishion, T. J. (2004). Ethnic identity and psychological
adjustment: A validity analysis for European American and African American adolescents. Journal of
Adolescent Research, 19, 807- 825.

Handout - Texas Association of School Psychologists