This is in response to Valhallian’s comment left in my blog posting of “A Response to California Academy of Audiologists’ Opposition to AB2072. His comments were:
“You bring up quite legitimate points. What I am wondering though, is there any way that one could compare test scores between the various communication modes? For example, I would imagine one may be able to acquire various state test scores from various deaf schools? Altho I also understand that some states do not even post the test scores of there state schools for the deaf. If it is proven that ASL-based programs show higher test scores, in reading, math, etc., than other communication modes, then it would be very easy to stand by those results and flaunt them in the legislators faces. Until that happens, unfortunately, odds are that the power of lobbying will go a long ways in determining the direction that legislation goes. I look forward to reading more of your blog postings.”
I did not want to offer my opinions as much as I am tempted to. I promised Valhallian I would make some inquiries and get back to him. Here’s what I learned:
There are too many variables to determine “test scores between the communication options.”
To clarify, the term, “communication options,” is really a misnomer. There are only two languages, American Sign Language (ASL) and oral English. Then there are communication methods like Total Communication and Cued Speech. They are actually tools of oral English.
So, we need to ask how many students have enough “language skills” that when they become Kindergarteners, they are “ready” to learn academically.
In the State of California, deaf students’ scores are a part of special education students’ scores. That means that deaf students’ scores are mixed with autistic, or blind, or developmentally-delayed students’ scores. This is one of the reasons why we are unable to answer your question.
Only through a legislative mandate were we able to cull the 2007 scores that were dismal and heartbreaking. To get the 2010 scores of deaf students would require another legislative mandate.
FACT: only 8% of deaf and 15% hard of hearing children are reading at proficient (grade level) or advanced levels (above grade level).
There are 4000 deaf students and 8000 hard-of-hearing students in the State of California. According to the statistics above, only 320 (out of 4000) deaf students and 1200 hard of hearing (out of 8000) students are reading at grade level or above.
Between California Schools for the Deaf, Fremont and Riverside, there is approximately 1000 students. They receive many “transfer” students from mainstreamed or public schools for a variety of reasons. It is “common” to suggest that state schools for the deaf have become “dumping grounds” for failing students.
Many of those transfer students at ages 12 and older have delayed language development. That would unfairly influence their yearly academic scores.
Private oral schools are small schools, and they are not required to post statistics. If their students were so successful, you would think they would volunteer to post scores. In reality, their successful oral deaf students go to mainstreamed public schools, while their oral-language-delayed students stay in oral private schools or eventually transfer to a deaf school. Their “successful students” could also decide to transfer to schools for the deaf. And their failures do not show in their scores.
Many times have I heard oral deaf students would have sign language interpreters in their classes. I’ve always been baffled how a deaf student could be “oral” and have sign language interpreters in their classes. If they didn’t have their sign language interpreters, would they make it academically?
Again, now, you can see why the scores would not reflect this appropriately. An oral student could be successful because of the sign language interpreter, not the oral language choice.
You get the idea why all of the school scores for deaf students do not show their “true colors” of the schools.
That leaves us with 11,000 DHH students whose language choices we do not know. They are not likely to speak American Sign Language. Nevertheless, the statistics above tell us that most definitely those deaf students have impoverished or delayed language that clearly have effects on their reading scores.
Now, there are only a handful of ASL schools in America.
Again, those schools along with most state schools for the deaf probably get most of their students when they are transferred for a variety of reasons such as failing academically or inadequate social opportunities.
It would require experienced statisticians/researchers to take all of California’s 12,000 deaf students’ scores and analyze them accurately and appropriately.
What we will need to do is to ask for another legislative mandate to confirm that many of our personal opinions that could actually be baseless. Each and every one of us has an “opinion,” (I am equally guilty.) and over the process of doing so, some of those “opinions” have become mis-facts.
Louis D. Brandeis said:
“Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.”