Master Teachers' Responses to Twenty Literacy and Science/mathematics Practices in Deaf Education

Article excerpt

UNDER A GRANT to improve outcomes for students who are deaf or hard of hearing awarded to the Association of College Educators-Deaf/Hard of Hearing, a team identified content that all teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing must understand and be able to teach. Also identified were 20 practices associated with content standards (10 each, literacy and science/mathematics). Thirty-seven master teachers identified by grant agents rated the practices on a Likert-type scale indicating the maximum benefit of each practice and maximum likelihood that they would use the practice, yielding a likelihood-impact analysis. The teachers showed strong agreement on the benefits and likelihood of use of the rated practices. Concerns about implementation of many of the practices related to time constraints and mixed-ability classrooms were themes of the reviews. Actions for teacher preparation programs were recommended.

Recent mandates at the federal level such as those in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act require the field of deaf education to pay increased attention to curriculum content standards and accountability. In fall 2003, the Association of College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH) received a federal grant (Join Together, P342A030098) to improve practices for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. This grant was divided into eight sections, one of which was section 2.2, Content Best Practices. A team was organized to investigate this topic. The objectives of the team were (a) to identify the content to be taught and methods for teaching that content and (b) to propose enhancements to teacher preparation based on data and field evidence. These two objectives were addressed across two broad categories: literacy and science/mathematics. Literacy, science, and math became the focus because they are routinely identified as areas of critical need throughout education (Office of Postsecondary Education, 2006). In the present article, we present the findings of Team 2.2. We present a discussion of content standards, define research-based practices, provide a summary of the literature, and offer data from master teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing regarding the benefits of certain practices versus their likelihood of use.

Definitions

To facilitate ease of reading, we begin by providing definitions of several concepts. By deaf or hard of hearing or deaf and hard of hearing we mean that segment of the student population served by teachers trained in any of the teacher preparation programs that identify themselves as programs in deaf education and that lead to state certification.

Definitions of Standards-Related Terms

By standards or standard curriculum we mean that set of curricular objectives that a particular state or specialized professional association identifies as being the common core that all students should be able to understand or perform (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 2006). Entity standards are common standards, and therefore often represent typical or average expectations of all individuals. Used in this context, the term standard implies a common expectation rather than a loftier goal. By the term content best practices we refer to those practices that have been proven effective for teaching the various aspects of a curriculum that have been deemed critical for all students to learn.

Definitions of Research-Based Practices

Research-based practices have become an important topic of discussion in education, as the vast array of education interventions has limited evidentiary backing (National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, 2003). At the inception of the investigation for the present study, little guidance was available regarding parameters of research quality. Easterbrooks (2002) used the procedures established by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy in a review of the literature for the institute. …