Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

The Efficacy of Asl/english Bilingual Education: Considering Public Schools

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

The Efficacy of Asl/english Bilingual Education: Considering Public Schools

Article excerpt

THE STUDY investigated the efficacy and viability of American Sign Language (ASL)/English bilingual education for public schools serving deaf and hard of hearing children. Prior research related to ASL/English bilingual education is reviewed. Quantitative data related to the reading comprehension achievement of 25 deaf and hard of hearing students that were collected for the study are analyzed. The subjects' school program is described in depth. Overall performance of the sample is discussed. A description of high and low gainers is included. A statistically significant correlation between years of ASL usage and reading achievement is identified. Implications for the implementation of ASL/English bilingual methodology are reviewed, and suggestions for future research are offered.

Accountability efforts have placed American deaf education under substantial scrutiny. Pressures from federal mandates, especially those tied to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), have left educators seeking solutions to a major literacy dilemma: The average reading achievement of students who are deaf or hard of hearing remains well below that of their age-matched hearing peers (Cawthon, 2004; LaSasso & Lollis, 2003; Padden & Ramsey, 1998), with approximately half of all high school graduates with hearing loss reading below the fourthgrade level (Holcomb & Peyton, 1992; Holt, Traxler, & Allen, 1997). Ineffective pedagogy has fueled a cycle of low expectations (Fernandes, 1997; Johnson, Liddell, & Erting, 1989) that has lead to the implementation of curriculum that does not parallel the mandated standards established for these students' hearing peers (Bowe, 1991). With NCLB requiring that all students achieve performance at grade level by the end of the 2013-2014 school year, the need for instructional reform is evident.

Historically, academic paradigms have implied that deafness impedes literacy, intensely focusing on student deficiencies (Mogford, 1988; Perfetti & Sandak, 2000; Quigley Power, & Steincamp, 1977). However, the cause of poor outcomes for students may stem from instructional weaknesses, not insufficient student ability (Bowe, 1991; Johnson et al., 1989; Nover, Andrews, Baker, Everhart, & Bradford, 2002; Supalla, 1994). By taking a fundamentally different approach to the literacy dilemma, current research has focused on improving inadequate methods by capitalizing on each child's full linguistic repertoire (Nover, Christensen, & Cheng, 1998). This alternative paradigm considers linguistic, cultural, and educational implications more than the actual sensory disability (Charrow, 1981; Nover & Moll, 1997; Padden & Humphries, 1988). Supporters of this model have promoted American Sign Language (ASL)/English bilingual education to support the academic success of deaf and hard of hearing children (LaSasso & Lollis, 2003; Nover et al, 2002; Strong, 1995).

Dual language methodology is not new. Indeed, the concept of using dual languages in deaf education has been available since the early 19th century (Kannapell, 1974). However, the dual language approach was discontinued during the push for oralism after the Milan Conference of 1880 and decisions by the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Program for the Deaf in the mid-1920s (Nover, 2000). A reemergence, evident in the last two decades (Johnson et al, 1989; LaSasso & Lollis, 2003; Strong, 1995), has created a change in teacher training options, as programs in France (Bouvet, 1990), Denmark (Hansen, 1994), the United States (Padden & Ramsey, 1998), and England (Knight & Swanwick, 2002) have begun to see promising results. As training options have become more available, the forward momentum continues.

Strong (1995) described only 9 schools using bilingual methods in 1995 and LaSasso and Lollis (2003) found only 19 in 2003. The Center for ASL/English Bilingual Education and Research (CAEBER), the leading entity for in-service training efforts in the United States, has reported training at least 274 mentors since its inception in 1997 (V Everhart, personal communication, autumn 2006). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.