Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Samuel Ortiz

Second Advisor

Marlene Sotelo-Dynega

Third Advisor

Imad Zaheer


Previous research has established a high correlation between socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity. Historically, indicators of SES are often patterned by race, with African American children generally being the highest percentage of children living in poverty. The implication of childhood SES to brain development lies in its evident relationship to cognitive ability as measured by cognitive assessments, particularly in the area of language. The present study investigated the influence of language on performance of African American children when compared to normative performance on the WISC-V, a common and widely used cognitive assessment tool. Test creators claim to have included SES as a stratified variable that is highly controlled for in normative samples of cognitive assessments. However, although low SES groups may be included in the norm sample, the norm sample is likely representative of middle-class SES, based on the average of all SES groups. Given that differences in language development in children of the same age leads to significant differences in performance (Cormier et al., 2022; Ortiz, 2018), the assumption that stratification of SES provides adequate representation may be questionable. Results from the present study indicated that both SES and language differences were statistically significant and showed a medium to large effect size in terms of performance. These findings highlight the explicit role of SES and language as variables that should not be so easily overlooked by test developers. Considering what we know about the implications of SES and language on child development, using norms derived from current stratification procedures may well represent inappropriate practice. These findings are of considerable value for school psychologists when selecting assessment tools, such as the Ortiz PVAT or the KABC-II, that may be more appropriate for use with African American and other culturally, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse children.

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