23 SES 16 D, Issues in Education
In the United States, the Every Student Succeeds Act mandates the collection of disaggregated educational outcomes data, which parallel the general education population (ESSA, 2015). Yet, educational outcomes of deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) PK-12 students are largely ignored by education systems in the United States. This is a problem that is echoed in much of Europe. Outcomes data are not available because D/HH student data is not standardized by special needs categories in the reported data (e.g. “deaf/blind” and “hearing impaired”) and are unreported at the national level. According to Mitchell (2006), as many as 14% of the K-12 student population in the US is D/HH, yet because disaggregated data is not reported, the actual number of D/HH people is unknown both in the US and in Europe.
While it is difficult to summarize for every educational system in Europe, the US Department of Education mandates Results Driven Accountability (OSERS, 2014); in addition, the OSERS states that “the Department will also include educational results and outcomes for students with disabilities in making each state’s annual determination under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)” (p.1). However, decisions about the D/HH population cannot be based on disaggregated data because there is insufficient data strategically collected on this important minority population. Without data, there are no measures to demonstrate accountability. Because there is no adequate data for this population, the terms of IDEA are violated by the failure to provide results and academic outcomes for D/HH students. When available, evidence suggests that the resources required to educate D/HH students are not adequately used because the specific academic needs of this population have not been identified, and current empirical research cannot target specific conditions or variables that affect teaching and learning among D/HH students. There are no graduation or exit data from high schools and no disaggregated data on D/HH to understand how D/HH intersects with other mediating variables.
Having no disaggregated results provides an inadequate understanding of D/HH students’ transition to the labor market, enrollment in higher education, and participation in civil society. For example, O’Brien and Robinson (2017) reported that in schools for the deaf, superintendents stated that less than 10% of seniors are prepared to transition to higher education. The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes studies students who are currently enrolled in higher education; however, we do not know the number of D/HH students who are ill-prepared to enter higher education. Likewise, in the US, 47% of D/HH people are not in the labor force (Garberoglio, Cawthon, & Bond, 2016). Productive citizenship may be measured in several ways. For example, the population of D/HH adults in the US prison population, 64%, is larger than the percentage of hearing adults, 49%, who are incarcerated for violent offenses. Also, D/HH adults in prison are convicted of violent or sexual assault at higher levels than in the hearing population (Miller, Vernon, & Capella, 2005).
Given these costs and concerns, and the lack of data on deaf education in general both in the US and Europe, we ask the following core research questions:
RQ1: What policies or mandates exist regarding data collection on D/HH student academic outcomes in the US compared to European educational systems?
RQ2: What system-level data is available for educational decision-makers in the US compared to European educational systems?
RQ3: What documented outcomes are there for deaf and hard of hearing youth in terms of student achievement and mobility within primary and secondary education systems, transition to university or college, labor market transition, and productive citizenship (e.g., voting and other civic engagement)?
The data analyzed for this study comes from publicly-available education policy documents and a synthesis of the empirical literature on deaf and hard of hearing education in the US and Europe. These documents and literature were collected for review using the US Library of Congress and Gallaudet University’s library resources, which has access to all published material worldwide related to research on deaf education and policy. In order to ensure that all published works were found, the authors solicited and received assistance from staff from the Library of Congress including the Education Division. The authors spent most of four months working with the Library of Congress (six librarians) to extract all research publications that related to preschool through high school outcomes data and Deaf Education. They specifically searched for topics related to deafness and academic achievement, standardized test outcomes, graduation/certificate of completion rates, academic dropout rates, and any data that would show national or international education outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing students. Further, they sought assistance from Gallaudet University by inquiring at the research institute and library. These documents were coded using a shared coding protocol and a specialized qualitative software program. The purpose of the coding data also determines the types of validity evidence that need to be gathered within the emerging themes. Themes that emerged from the data were organized into main themes and sub-themes.
There is a need for publicly available datasets to encourage data analysis toward promoting academic accountability, academic access, and academic improvement for D/HH students in the US and abroad. Secondary analyses are important for researchers, policymakers, and schools who will be able to use this data for the local, district, state, federal, and international level decision-making. Disaggregation of the data and secondary analyses will also allow educators and educational decision makers to discern needs for new allocations of funds and pedagogical or curricular resources based on D/HH academic needs. Today, those needs are not clearly delineated for D/HH compared with other populations. By making data on academic outcomes for D/HH students available and publicly accessible this data can be utilized to make academic decisions beneficial to PK-12 D/HH students. Recognizing the gaps in academic data collection for D/HH students, we request the US and Europe mandate the reporting of disaggregated data for D/HH students as part of their education reporting requirements. We also request that a National/International Deaf Center on PK-12 Outcomes be created for the analysis and dissemination of data specific to D/HH students at the PK-12 level. A Deaf Center on PK-12 Outcomes would gather and analyze data for nearly all D/HH students throughout their education years. Analysis of these data would allow researchers, policymakers, and schools to understand how to prepare PK-12 D/HH students more adequately for the post-secondary education setting. Such student preparation would enable more of these students to be successful at higher levels of education, transition into the career-oriented labor markets, and become productive citizens in their communities. Such a center would also make data available for secondary analysis similar to the Common Core of Data (CCD) or NCES data currently collected.
ESSA (2015). Everybody Succeeds Act: Public Law 114-95. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/114/plaws/publ95/PLAW-114publ95.htm Garberoglio, C.L., Cawthon, S., & Bond, M. (2016). Deaf People and Employment in the United States: 2016. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. Miller, K.R., Vernon, M., Capella, M.E. (2005). Violent Offenders in a Deaf Prison Population. Journal of Deaf Students and Deaf Education, 10(4), 417-425. Mitchell, R. E. (2006). "How many deaf people are there in the United States? Estimates from the Survey of Income and Program Participation." Journal of Deaf Studies & Deaf Education, 11(1), 112-119. O’Brien, C. & Robinson, K. (2017). Leadership for cultural and language diversity in the context of schools for the deaf. Journal of School Leadership, 27(3) 301-332. OSERS (2014). Results driven accountability: IDEA Framework. Retrieved from https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/new-accountability-framework-raises-bar-state-special-education-programs.
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