International Adoption Info

Newsletter #58 for Internationally Adopting Parents
April 26, 2007
PAL Center Inc.

New Articles


Hilton Garden Inn Nanuet
offers discounts to
the BGCenter patients


Next Consultation #4
Dr. Boris Gindis

A new group consultation
"In the midst of attachment issues:
What to do when you are concerned"

is coming soon


Courses &
Workshops for School Professionals

PAL Center offers varies online courses about internationally adopted children at school for school professionals. These courses may be converted into a distance learning workshop, with the online course instructor taking your questions and answering them during a conference call.

Call PAL Center for details

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Assessment & Remediation,
or a former student
of the BGCenter Online School,
or a user of the International Adoption Articles Directory.


Latest Articles
from the

International Adoption Articles Directory

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
In view of the risk involved, that the decision may not reflect the wishes of the parent, lawyers and parents seek to achieve a settlement, right up to the last minute. Make the best of it...
Questions and Answers
At School, at Home, and Abroad
At School
Q My son was adopted 2 years ago from Russia. I placed him in 2nd grade, 1 year behind his age, at our local public school. His academic progress lags behind his verbal and social progress, both of which I consider to be good. I asked to have him psycho-educationally tested and was shocked when the school psychologist told me that he scored as "borderline" using the non-verbal UNIT testing method. They refused us special ed services. How reliable is this test for an IA child who admittedly has developmental delays based on early childhood neglect? Should I accept a "borderline" assessment and lower my sites?
A You have posed the questions which are at the heart of remedial work with internationally adopted children, the majority of whom have delays and deficiencies in their academic and social functioning due to their background of neglect and deprivation, who go through an abrupt native language loss and it's replacement with the English language, and who often have significant neurological impairments as well. All these factors affect children, especially on entering the school system with its own set of requirements for cognitive, academic, and social competence.
Because of that:
  1. A professional who does school-related assessment of an IA child has to be aware of and understand the specifics of an internationally adopted child.
  2. The initial assessment should be done in the child’s native language within the first month after the arrival when new language learning issues do not interfere yet. After 2 years in the American family, your son does not have his first language any more, but he has not yet mastered many aspects of academic English as well. He will be in this process several more years, which both obscures the actual picture during tests and is usually used as an excuse to wait until the child has a better command of the English language.
  3. An assessment must include not just one test (even such a good instrument as UNIT), but a range of different methods of evaluation: this is a requirement of a major law (IDEA), that regulates special education.
  4. Remediation should start ASAP, addressing major identified needs.

Does your school psychologist qualify to do this kind of assessment? Was there indeed only one test used? We know too well that the schools do not always know “how to fit these square pegs into the round holes of Special Ed programs”.

As for the specific test you are asking about - the UNIT: this is a reliable and well standardized test to measure nonverbal intelligence (test reliability means that the results should not differ from one tester to the other). Its predictive validity for the school performance though is not great - 60% approximately, while other tests that utilize both verbal and nonverbal items have higher predictive validity for school performance because education in our schools is language-based.

The most important thing, however, is the interpretation of the results of testing in the context of the child’s history and current situation: the trouble with even the best tests is, that while the tests are standardized, the kids are not.

To summarize it all, do not concentrate on the results of one test; rather look for all the necessary prerequisites of a proper for your child assessment to have a reliable and trustworthy outcome in the end.
Boris Gindis Ph.D.

At Home
Q. Are there any books or articles about rivalry between the biological and adopted children in the family?
A. We are not aware of a separate book on this issue, but here are several links to the articles on the Internet that may be helpful:



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