Academic journal article The Volta Review

Parent and Teacher Perceptions of Transitioning Students from a Listening and Spoken Language School to the General Education Setting

Academic journal article The Volta Review

Parent and Teacher Perceptions of Transitioning Students from a Listening and Spoken Language School to the General Education Setting

Article excerpt

The present study examines the perception of parents and teachers towards the transition process and preparedness of students who are deaf or hard of hearing from a listening and spoken language school in the Northeastern United States to a general education setting in their home school districts. The study uses a mixed methods design with in-depth interviews of a criterion-based sample of parents as the primary data gathering method. From the parent sample, teachers of the same child were surveyed regarding the transition and student preparedness for the general education setting. Interview transcripts and surveys were analyzed using a phenomenological data analysis technique and descriptive statistics. Findings of the analysis indicate that although the initiator and length of time for the process varied, parents and teachers were satisfied with the transition process. Parents identified several important components of transitioning. Findings further indicate students were adequately prepared and were maintaining academic progress, but needed more time for vocabulary development.

Introduction

The U.S. Department of Education reported "[I]n 1970, U.S. schools educated only one in five children with disabilities, and many states had laws excluding certain students, including children who were deaf, blind, emotionally disturbed, or mentally retarded" (2007, H5). Landmark court rulings in the 1970s resulted in changes to civil and educational rights for persons with disabilities. Most recently, the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) in 2004 emphasized that students with disabilities are provided a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Oftentimes, a general education setting is considered the LRE and as a result, an increased number of students with disabilities are being educated in that setting (McHatton & Daniel, 2008).

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing are no exception to increased enrollment in the general education setting. According to the Gallaudet Research Institute (GRI, 2009a), 59.9% of students who are deaf or hard of hearing across the United States receive their education in the general education classroom while 24.3% are educated in a special school for the deaf, day school, or residential school. Students reported the use of various modes of communication: 52% speech only, 34.9% sign with speech, 11.4% sign only, 0.2% cued speech, and 1.5% another form of communication. Furthermore, of the children who use speech only as their primary mode of communication, 65% are educated in the general education setting, 11.8% are educated in a self-contained class in a general education setting, 11.5% are educated in a resource room, 5.6% participated in listening and spoken language (LSL) schools and programs for the deaf, 2.4% are educated at home, and 3.7% listed "other" as their instructional setting (GRI, 2009b). Currently, 52 schools world-wide belong to the organization ????? Schools, Inc., that specialize exclusively in teaching children who are deaf or hard of hearing using a listening and spoken language approach (OPTION Schools, n.d.). At least 37 of these schools explicitly state within their mission or philosophy that transitioning students (also referred to as mainstreaming) to the general education setting is one of their goals (OPTION Schools, n.d.).

Research on the experiences of students who are deaf or hard of hearing and in the general education setting document areas of success and difficulty. In a study by Lambropoulou (1997, as cited in Angelides & Aravi, 2006), children in an included classroom received very little support, especially in terms of differentiating instruction. Academics were more challenging and success required more time spent "catching up" by taking notes, meeting the teachers after hours, and studying. Foster (1989) noted similar results. One of her participants stated, "It wasn't easy in school. …

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