Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Enrollment Trends in Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Programs, 1973-2009

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Enrollment Trends in Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Programs, 1973-2009

Article excerpt

THE NUMBER of deaf education teacher preparation programs and the number of program graduates were tabulated from reference issues of the American Annals of the Deaf beginning in 1973 and progressing every third year through 2009. Programs and graduates reached their highest levels from the mid-1970s through mid-1980s. In 2006 and 2009, only about one fourth as many students were majoring in deaf education in relation to the general U.S. college population as in 1973, 1976, and 1979. Yet because the population of children identified as deaf and hard of hearing has also declined, the ratio of program graduates to deaf children has stayed relatively balanced for the past 20 years. Current challenges faced by teacher preparation programs include increases in interpreter preparation programs and programs for teaching American Sign Language, as well as the changing nature of the role of teacher of the deaf.

Within the field of deaf education, the size of the student population and projections of future growth are frequently discussed in the research literature (e.g., Mitchell & Karchmer, 2006). Changes in residential school enrollments, numbers of deaf and hard of hearing students attending neighborhood schools, the proportion of students using sign language, and the increasing frequency of cochlear implants in young children all have an impact on how services are delivered and the numbers of teachers needed both now and in the future.

Less often discussed are the implications of these changes for teacher preparation programs themselves. While some studies indicate a persistent shortage of teachers of the deaf (e.g., Johnson, 2004) and the highereducation personnel needed to prepare them for their roles (e.g., Andrews & Covell, 2006/2007; Johnson, 2004; LaSasso & Wilson, 2000), research also suggests that the number of teacher education programs in deafness is decreasing. Jones and Ewing (2002) analyzed programs approved by the Council on Education of the Deaf and reported that there were 46 CEDapproved programs in 2002. By comparison, Israelite and Hammermeister (1986) found that % CED-approved programs were in existence in 1984. Jones and Ewing noted that only 4 of the 46 programs in their study had been established since 1980. Israelite and Hammer meis ter, in turn, reported that enrollments had decreased at both the undergraduate and graduate levels between 1979 and 1984. During that period, 45% of undergraduate programs reported an enrollment decline, while 33% of graduate programs did so. I compared teacher preparation programs over the period 1986-2006 and found a 17% reduction during this span, from 83 programs in 1986 to 69 in 2006 (Dolman, 2008). The greatest decrease was at the undergraduate level, where there were 47 programs in 1986 but only 33 programs 20 years later.

The present study built on these earlier findings in an attempt to ascertain trends in enrollments in deaf education teacher preparation programs from the early 1970s to the present. Of interest was whether the enrollment declines from 1976 to 1984 (Israelite & Hammermeister, 1986), 1986 to 2002 (Jones & Ewing, 2002), and 1986 to 2006 (Dolman, 2008) would be verified by a systematic examination of the number of programs and program graduates every 3 years over a much longer period. Also of interest was how the number of teacher preparation programs compared to the number of interpreter preparation programs over this same period of urne.

Method

The number of deaf education teacher preparation programs and the number of graduates in a given year were determined from information provided in the annual reference issue of the American Annals of the Deaf under "Programs for Training Teachers" (1973, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009). The number of interpreter preparation programs was listed in the same issue of the Annals under "Programs for Training Interpreters" (1982, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009), although number of program graduates was not listed. …

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