Volume 8, Issue 1 (1979)
Is Tissue the Issue? A Critique of SOMPA's Models and Tests
Joan F. Goodman
With the recent publication of SOMPA (System of Multicultural Pluralistic Assessment), Jane Mercer and June Lewis have mounted a major challenge to school psychologists (Mercer & Lewis). The debate on her conceptual system now moves from the realm of theoretical controversy to that of intense practical concern; SOMPA is not merely another more complex test battery, nor another attempt at a “culture fair”instrument; it is a radically novel view of the assessment process. Though the system is cloaked in liberalness, acceptance of the assumptions and implications would, as I see it, push progress in psychometric evaluation considerably backward. In a well intentioned effort to compensate the disadvantaged and protect them against test abuse and consequent mislabeling, Mercer is opening the door to serious misinterpretations of psychological instruments. This article is a critical review of Mercer’s assumptions, evaluation models and the interpretations of old and new tests derived from the models. Except where otherwise noted, the following analysis is based on the SOMPA technical manual and Mercer’s 1973 book, Labeling the Mentally Retarded.
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