Samuel O. Ortiz

Dr. Samuel O. OrtizTitle

The Culture-Language Interpretive Matrix and English Learners: An Evidence-Based Application of Research into Practice

September 10, 2019 (Tuesday), 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CDT


The use of standardized tests of cognitive ability with English learners has long been recognized as a problem. Yet, the various solutions proposed over the past century to manage fairness (e.g., modifications/alterations to standard protocol, nonverbal assessment, testing in the dominant language) have all proven less than satisfactory in addressing the underlying issue: validity. Coupled with misplaced attention to causal factors related to ethnicity and race rather than language and acculturative knowledge development, there has been very little advancement in the use of research to guide practice with English learners. This may be due to the fact that the empirical literature on the cognitive performance of English learners has been conducted in English, not the native language. However, this knowledge base can be integrated into practice when it is understood and recognized that the measured performance of English learners without disabilities on tests given to them in English essentially represents the expected “average” range and provides a relative “true peer” comparison group.

It is on this basis that the Culture-Language Interpretive Matrix (C-LIM) is predicated, and as such, it provides a method by which the validity of obtained test scores on English learners can be discerned directly and systematically. By arranging research on English learners’ performance on cognitive ability, language, and neuropsychological tests, in a manner that represents what is “average,” regardless of the values, practitioners can evaluate the extent to which cultural/linguistic factors affected performance and affected the validity of the intended constructs from the tests they typically administer and when administered in English.

The purpose of this webinar is to explain and outline the empirical foundations of the C-LIM and describe its application to evaluation of English learners as one example of how research may be used to better and more fairly inform practice.


Dr. Samuel O. Ortiz is Professor of Psychology at St. John's University, New York. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California and a credential in school psychology with postdoctoral training in bilingual school psychology from San Diego State University. He has served as Visiting Professor and Research Fellow at Nagoya University, Japan, Vice President for Professional Affairs of APA Division 16 (School Psychology), member and Chair of APA’s Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment, member of the Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education, representative on the New York State Committee of Practitioners on ELL/LEP Students, and member of the APA Presidential Task Force on Educational Disparities. Dr. Ortiz has served on various editorial boards including Journal of School Psychology, School Psychology Quarterly, and Journal of Applied School Psychology. He is an internationally recognized expert on a variety of topics including nondiscriminatory assessment, evaluation of English learners, cross-battery assessment, and learning disabilities. He is author of the Ortiz PVAT and the X-BASS 2.0, and his books include Assessment of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students: A Practical Guide, and Essentials of Cross-Battery Assessment, 3rd Edition. Dr. Ortiz is bilingual (Spanish) and bicultural (Puerto Rican).

  1. Articulate the limitations of current, typical approaches used in evaluating English learners.

  2. Recognize the relevant variables that affect test score validity for culturally and linguistically diverse learners.

  3. Interpret empirical evidence regarding the manner and extent to which language and acculturative knowledge acquisition affect test performance in a proportional, not dichotomous, manner.

  4. Establish appropriate expectations of test performance for English learners based on current and historical research.

  5. Use the C-LIM as a simple method for evaluating and establishing test score validity with English Learners.