Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

States' Reading Outcomes of Students Who Are D/deaf and Hard of Hearing

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

States' Reading Outcomes of Students Who Are D/deaf and Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

HISTORICALLY, researchers have identified that reading outcomes for students in upper grades who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh) have typically rested around the late 3rd to early 4th grade. In recent years, wide-scale state-level testing has called into question these prognostications. The authors conducted a descriptive, multiunit, embedded-designs case study of 7 states' data from multiyear annual assessments of reading of participants in grades 3, 5, and 8, and in high school. Participants, states' definitions of reading outcomes, and states' reported reading results are described. The authors, who found that many students are reading at levels above the perceived 3rd-to-4thgrade "glass ceiling," build the case for a more hopeful look at reading outcomes for these students than that of the past and recommend approaches for acquiring wide-scale data that will allow professionals in the field to better understand reading outcomes in this population.

Reading is a fundamental skill for all students and one that provides many challenges to those who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Dhh) (Harris & Marschark, 2011). Grade-level reading skills of d/Dhh students, and therefore performance scores on assessments requiring reading skills, have historically been below those of these students' typically hearing peers. Trybus and Karchmer (1977) reported that the median reading score on the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) of students who were d/Dhh at age 20 years was equivalent to grade 4.5; that is, about half of students at that age were reading below the mid-fourth-grade level. Further, the median score for 12-year-olds was grade 3.0, indicating a leveling off of performance. This finding was confirmed by Wölk and Allen (1984). Dew (1999) reported that one in five students (around 2,000 annually) left school reading at or below the secondgrade level. Additionally, of students who were deaf (i.e., with severe to profound hearing loss) prior to age 3 years, approximately 30% in one study left school functionally illiterate, with a reading grade level of 2.9 or below on standardi2ed tests (Vernon, Rafiman, Greenberg, & Monteiror, 2001). The picture drawn by these data is unclear at best, leaving parents and professionals alike to ponder the true nature of the reading picture for the population.

Since the data referenced in earlier reports and articles were published, a new wave of state-designed, highstakes tests has emerged to document reading performance by all students, including those who are d/Dhh. These test results are presented as levels of proficiency reported at different grade levels and provide a different perspective on reading outcomes from studies of the past.

We investigated reading outcomes in seven states (14% of the available pool) to determine if this newer approach to large-scale testing provided more clarity than the nationwide assessments of the past. The purposes of the present study were to conduct a multiple-case examination of current holistic descriptors (e.g., below proficiency, meets proficiency, exceeds proficiency) of reading outcomes based on state assessments and to look at the strengths and weaknesses of today's approach in reporting outcomes in this more holistic manner.

Reading and Hearing Loss

A hearing loss is related to language and literacy outcomes in many ways. Degree of hearing loss, use of a cochlear implant, and educational placement, among other factors, confound the reporting of literacy data. Many changes have occurred in the past few decades to fuel speculation that today's outcomes might be better. Cochlear implants, early identification, and changing educational placements have made today's reading environment noticeably different, and some subsets of the population appear to be making gains in reading (Beal-Alvarez, Lederberg, & Easterbrooks, 2011; Bergeron, Lederberg, Easterbrooks, Miller, & Connor, 2009; Trezek & Malmgren, 2005; Trezek & Wang, 2006; Trezek, Wang, Woods, Gampp, & Paul, 2007). …

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