Educational Consequences of
Alternative School Placements
Michael S. Stinson & Thomas N. Kluwin
The education of the deaf in the United States is every bit as diverse as is American education as a whole (Moores, 1996; Stewart & Kluwin, 2001). Today, a deaf or hard-of-hearing child could be in a public, private, or parochial school, in a residential program, or in a day program. A teacher of the deaf could spend his or her entire career in one school in a small town or ride the subway in a big city from one school to another. This diversity in part reflects the continuum of types of educational placement available in the United States today. This continuum is important because individual deaf students have different levels of need for support (Schirmer, 2001). (The term “deaf” will be used here to refer to the full range of deaf and hard-ofhearing students who receive special educational services.)
In this chapter we discuss four categories of alternative placements: (1) separate schools, (2) resource rooms and separate classes, (3) general education classes, and (4) co-enrollment classes. Two questions that immediately arise regarding these options are, What are the differences in the experiences of students in these alternative placement types? What are the differences in the characteristics and attainments of students in these placement types? A more complex question is, Is it possible to relate these different educational experiences to characteristics and attainments of the students? That is, do different experiences produce different educational consequences? The second and third sections of this chapter consider the research that best answers these questions. The first section provides background, description, and conceptualization that aids understanding of the research that this chapter reviews and of thinking in the field in regard to alternative types of placement.
A common view of the education of deaf children is the residential school teacher with the selfcontained class; however, this is not now and has not always been the most common situation (see Lang, this volume). Before the establishment of what is now the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, education of the deaf was a sporadic affair marked by isolated tutorial situations such as the plantation school that was the predecessor to the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Staunton, Virginia. But even as the education of the deaf moved state by state toward the establishment of residential schools, there were early experiments