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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Black Deaf Students: A Model for Educational Success

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A survey, the School Success Profile, has been used in mainstream schools to assess students’ individual adaptation in their social environments, which includes their neighborhood, school, friends, and family. It assesses their self-perceptions of their well-being. Richman, Rosenfeld, and Bowen (1998) suggest that this survey could he useful in providing interventions to promote academic resilience and educational outcomes for students placed at risk (p. 311). There is a strong need for a resilience form or survey that assesses the resilience of African American deaf and hard of hearing students. This form also could he used for students with other disabilities.

The program would designate responsible personnel for each step of the resilience process. It would also indicate how resilience factors are incorporated into the process. Though all teachers and staff would participant in the resilience process, the procedure would not he left to chance. A clearly developed program with designated individuals for each task would ensure the absence of gaps in services to students.

In order to implement and facilitate the policies, procedures, programs, and practices that promote resilience and transition in the school, school administrators should institute a comprehensive professional development program. Professional development is critical in the orientation of new teachers and support staff and the ongoing training of continuing teachers and staff. A professional development program can provide training and strategies to effectively implement the school’s mission, goals, policies, procedures, and programs. Professional development is also beneficial in developing educators’ cultural awareness and sensitivity and in incorporating relevant cultural practices.

Evaluation procedures are necessary to ascertain whether the school is accomplishing its mission and goals. For individual students, the administrator, with input from teachers and staff, will need to determine what types of tests will be used by the school to evaluate student progress and how they will be administered. This is especially important because tests have resulted in inappropriate placements of African American deaf and hard of hearing students in many academic settings. Administrators will need to be aware of how best to use tests and other forms of evaluation for student academic placements.

The director will develop methods for evaluating the progress of the program. One method would be biannual evaluations of goal accomplishment. The director should also utilize ongoing feedback from students, parents, teachers, staff, and community organizations that are stakeholders in the school through periodically scheduled meetings that elicit feedback about policies and programs.

By fostering open and ongoing communication between the home and school, schools will develop an effective working relationship with parents that promotes resilience and successful transition. Parent discussion groups are an ideal way for parents to share information with the school as well as for the school to share information with parents. Schools could also provide workshops and training activities for new parents as well as school age children. As seen in the study, the participants’ parents were primary factors in their transition, and they provided the protective factors that facilitated their children’s successful transition through school. Workshops that focus on information about resilience should be coordinated with community organizations, including local churches. These workshops will include information about infants’, toddlers’, and preschoolers’ development that enhances cognitive, social, communication, and perceptual-motor skills. Parents can learn ways to help their infants and young children learn language, writing, reading thinking, mathematical, and social skills, thereby making parents partners in the child’s learning process.

Topics for the discussion groups could be generated from surveys sent to the parents. Also, parents could be asked for their input and feedback on the mission goals and new programs that the school wants to implement. Times for the discussion groups should be coordinated with the parents. In addition, residential and day programs will develop outreach programs that would involve setting up meetings in communities in centrally and conveniently located places such as libraries, churches, and community organizations where large groups of parents normally attend. The school will also make the workshops available to any parent in the community who wants to attend, which will make information available to parents whose children are not vet school age. The principal of the school and professionals who have information about the topic to be discussed should attend the meetings. It is important that school administrators attend some of the meetings because their presence will communicate commitment to the school’s mission and also provide a personal method for the dissemination of information about the school’s goals and how the school is meeting those goals. During the meetings, administrators will obtain feedback from parents regarding whether the school is meeting its goals and both can exchange views about the effectiveness of school programs.

In this study, many parents began preparing their children with learning opportunities prior to their children’s entrance into school. The information from the participants on what they viewed as important to their success and the problem areas that could have impeded their progress could he helpful to other parents of African American students.

The question that arises is how this type of information can be disseminated re au African American parents of deaf and hard of hearing students. Professionals usually receive information about effective parenting skills through college courses, professional development training, and professional magazines, but parents usually do not receive this information. School professionals must address how to provide to parents literature on current topics for discussion groups and how to schedule times for meetings that ensure opportunities for parental attendance.

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