Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills with Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Perspectives of a Panel of Experts

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills with Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Perspectives of a Panel of Experts

Article excerpt

Early literacy skills serve as the foundation for the development of subsequent reading skills and strategies. Increasingly, educators are administering early literacy assessments to identify young students who are at risk for reading failure and providing them with additional evidence based interventions. The most widely used assessments for reading in preschools and elementary schools for typical hearing students are the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). The purpose of this study was to gather the perceptions of a panel of experts in the area of reading and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing regarding the potential appropriateness of using the subtests of the DIBELS with students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Results, as well as practical and research implications, are provided.

Keywords: literacy, assessment, deaf, hard of hearing

Being able to read is essential to achieving in school, being an informed citizen, succeeding in one's career, and being personally fulfilled. Cognizant that skilled readers have access to information that allows them to make informed decisions and to conduct personal, educational, and work-related business, the American Federation of Teachers (1999) has stated that "the most fundamental responsibility of schools is teaching students to read" (p. 7).

One of the objectives of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is improved reading outcomes for all students (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). Because extensive research indicates that early literacy skills are the foundation for the development of subsequent reading skills and strategies (e.g., Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997; Juel, 1988; Scarborough & Parker, 2003; Shaywitz et al., 1999), educators are increasingly proactive in identifying and providing interventions for young students who are at risk for reading failure.

One population that has consistently experienced challenges in acquiring reading proficiency is students who are deaf or hard of hearing, even though most have average or above-average intelligence (Braden, 1994; Mailer & Braden, 2011). Generally, research done over the past 90 years has documented the fact that most individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing complete their educational programs without being able to read well (e.g., Myklebust, I960; Pintner & Patterson, 1916). Recent national research indicates that the average student with a hearing loss graduates from high school with reading comprehension skills at approximately the fourth-grade level (e.g., Allen, 1986; Cawthon, 2011; Holt, Traxler, & Allen, 1997; Karchmer & Mitchell, 2003; Qi & Mitchell, 2007; Traxler, 2000). Approximately 20% of such students (some 2,000 annually) leave school with a reading level at or below second grade (Dew, 1999). It is very likely that the lack of literacy skill development is one of the primary factors that caused 58,500 deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States to enroll in the Supplemental Security Income program in a recent year (Social Security Administration, 2011).

To improve literacy outcomes, educational programs are administering screening assessments to identify young students who are at risk for reading failure and providing them with additional evidence-based interventions. Useful screening assessments have good predictive power; that is, they can accurately and reliably identify the students who will most likely experience reading difficulties in the future, based on these students' current performance on critical indicators (Bagnato, Neisworth, & Pretti-Frontczak, 2010). Coyne and Harn (2006) found that early literacy screening assessments answer questions such as "Which children are at risk for experiencing reading difficulties now and in the future?" and "Which children will need additional intervention to meet reading goals?" (p. 37)

Increasingly, educators are also using progress monitoring to determine if students are making adequate progress toward meeting grade-level reading outcomes. …

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