A computer simulation program was developed for the purpose of studying the processes diagnostic personnel in the schools engage in when making psychoeducational decisions about students. Initially, the program collected demographic data on 159 participants and assessed their knowledge base in assessment. Bogus referral information for one of sixteen "cases" was then provided and subjects were instructed that they were to make eligibility and classification decisions for the child. They were told that scores and other information (e.g., observations) were available to them on a variety of tests from among seven domains. Although the referral data indicated the student might be evidencing academic or behavior problems, all assessment data indicated a normal or average performance. Fifty-two percent of the subjects (i.e., 83) declared the "average" child eligible for special education services; their classification decisions were further analyzed. Decisions about the 16 different children were found to be more a function of referral information than child performance data. The outcomes are discussed with regard to implications for the practice of psychoeducational assessment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
1. Bob Algozzine is also affiliated with the University of Minnesota Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities. The authors wish to express appreciation to Virginia Ross and Leila Cantara and the Institute staff for professional assistance in preparation of the manuscript; the constructive criticism of early versions of the material by Matt McGue is also acknowledged. The preparation of this manuscript was supported by Contract #300-77-0491 between the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped and the University of Minnesota Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities.