A NATIONAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEY is described that gathered information on current practices in physical education in both center-based schools for the deaf and mainstream programs serving deaf and hard of hearing students, grades K-12. The manner in which deaf and hard of hearing students are being served in physical education programs, the depth and breadth of curricula, and the credentials needed to teach are described. The study compares similarities and differences among physical education programs in center-based deaf institutions and mainstream schools. In summary, the study identifies areas of concentration needed in curriculum, and methods of teaching appropriate for student teacher candidates. This information has value for physical education programs that are considering revising their curricula to prepare teacher candidates who wish to work with deaf students.
In the ideal world, physical education teachers promote fitness and help students develop skills that lead to a healthy lifestyle and a lifelong enjoyment of physical activity. In the real world, though, physical education classes are often the only physical activity children experience during the day (Stewart & Ellis, 1999). Sedentary lifestyles bring an increasing number of students to school with a poor fitness base and obesity-related problems. Teachers must adjust the pace of teaching and modify methods to accommodate unique needs.
The recognized leader in deaf education, Gallaudet University has a responsibility to the Deaf community to ensure that the physical education teachers the university sends into the work force are well prepared. Gallaudet offers an undergraduate degree program in physical education, Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE), that prepares and certifies deaf student candidates to teach physical education in grades K-12. Currently, PETE majors complete their student teaching experience in local mainstream settings using interpreters to communicate with students. But most of these student teachers will eventually find employment in center-based deaf institutions.
To provide an effective and innovative curricular model, the PETE curriculum requires continual assessment, revision, and refinement (Wiegand, Bulger, & Mohr, 2004). A recent study (Hill & Brodin, 2004) concluded that while there is no single prototype for a PETE curriculum-because of diversity among institutions in terms of mission, size, faculty credentials, facilities, and student population-all PETE curricula have elements in common.
The Department of Physical Education and Recreation at Gallaudet University is reassessing and revising the PETE curriculum to meet 21st-century challenges. The department is guided by two professional and accreditation organizations, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). In NASPE National Standards/or Beginning Physical Education Teachers, NASPE (2001) identifies 10 competency areas for beginning physical education teachers: content knowledge, growth and development, diverse learners, management and motivation, communication, planning and instruction, learner assessment, reflection, technology, and collaboration. NASPE requires programs in physical education teacher preparation to provide evidence that teacher candidates demonstrate acceptable proficiency in each of these areas.
Across the United States, physical education programs for grades K-12 that serve deaf and hard of hearing students have significantly changed in recent years. In part, these changes result from legislation. In the years since enactment of the American With Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 1997, center-based schools (serving deaf students) have seen enrollment reductions. Drawing on data from Holden-Pitt and Diaz (1998), Stewart and Ellis (1999) have noted that 70% of deaf and hard of hearing students are now educated in public school programs. …