Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

An Examination of the Research and Training Needs in the Field of Deaf Education

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

An Examination of the Research and Training Needs in the Field of Deaf Education

Article excerpt

THE NATIONAL CENTER on Low-Incidence Disabilities conducted a needs assessment of the research and training needs in the field of deaf education. A total of 331 professionals, parents, administrators, and university faculty responded to the survey. Overall, respondents indicated that the number-one priority was to educate administrators about services that are appropriate for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The second most important concern was how to work within the education system to change it. The third priority was teaching reading strategies. Additional priorities are reported for all respondents, as well as comparisons among the different respondent groups. Implications of the results are presented.

The field of deaf education has experienced many changes recently. Specific examples include

* the widespread implementation of newborn hearing screening (National Center on Hearing Assessment and Management, n.d.)

* the growing number of babies, toddlers, and children receiving cochlear implants (American Academy of Audiology, 2003)

* the decrease in the number of children with severe to profound hearing loss (Holden-Pitt & Diaz, 1998)

* the increasing number of students who are deaf or hard of hearing who are being educated in general education settings (Karchmer & Mitchell, 2003), and the concurrent closing of residential schools

* the increasing number of students from culturally diverse backgrounds who are deaf or hard of hearing receiving services in schools (Gallaudet Research Institute, 2001)

* the rising number of hearing families using sign with their hearing babies to promote communication (Garcia, 1999)

In addition, currently there is a demand for higher educational standards and greater accountability for all students in America's schools. The modern economy requires a well-educated labor force. As a result, there is a growing expectation that graduates will leave school with the ability to solve problems, think critically, and work as team members. As the National Research Council has noted,

The United States is no longer a manufacturing society in which people with little formal education can find moderate-to-high-paying jobs. It is now a service- and knowledge-driven economy in which high levels of literacy and numeracy are required of almost everyone to achieve a good standard of living. (Shavelson, Towne, & Committee on Scientific Principles for Education Research, 2002, p. 12)

In an effort to address the expectations of business leaders, politicians, family members, and students, national school reform efforts in both general and special education are being implemented. One such reform is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This federal law requires states to implement statewide accountability systems covering all public schools and students. These systems must be based on challenging state standards in reading and mathematics, and annual testing for all students in grades 3-8 and testing at least once in grades 10-12.

High-quality research in education is also in demand. Rising standards, accountability requirements, and reform legislation all suggest that education policies and practices should be based on scientific evidence. The term "scientifically based research" appears in NCLB 110 times (Slavin, 2002), indicating a particular emphasis on implementing educational programs and practices that have been clearly demonstrated to be effective. As the National Research Council (2002) has concluded,

To meet these new demands, rigorous, sustained, scientific research in education is needed. In today's rapidly changing economic and technological environment, schooling cannot be improved by relying on folk wisdom about how students learn and how schools should be organized. No one would think of designing a rocket to the moon or wiping out a widespread disease by relying on untested hunches; likewise, one cannot expect to improve education without research. …

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