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American Annals of the Deaf

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Testing Deaf Students in an Age of Accountability

Robert C. Johnson and
Ross E. Mitchell, Editors

Part Two: Case Studies from Selected States

Testing, Accountability, and Equity
for Deaf Students in Delaware

Ed Bosso

It is 6:30 a.m. on the first day of the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP) at the Delaware School for the Deaf (DSD), and the atmosphere is already tense. Will enough staff members be present to administer the test with appropriate accommodations? If one key staff member assigned to administer the test is absent, then the entire schedule and staffing assignments for the test administration will be affected. The DSTP, which includes writing, reading, and mathematics during this spring session, is a high-stakes test that has consequences not only for individual students but also for
the school.

Teachers and administrators have been working tirelessly to finalize logistical preparations for testing in Grades 2 through 10. Faculty meetings have taken place to review security and test administration protocols and procedures, training has been conducted for staff members who will be involved in test administration. The “DSD DSTP Help Desk” is staffed and ready to support teachers who will administer the test, primarily with translation of test directions and test items. Schedules have been carefully crafted and reviewed multiple times to ensure appropriate staffing for the test administration and adequate instruction for students who are not involved in this particular test session.

At 7:20 a.m., secondary students arrive and gather in assembly for some last minute instructions and a positive message about performance on the test. Some students make comments about not wanting to attend mandatory summer school if they do not score well while others worry about receiving a diploma. Indeed, the stakes are high!

Joey, a 14-year-old boy who came to the school from a local school district a few months ago, sits quietly in the corner of the assembly as the principal frantically waves his arms from the stage, gesturing to students in ways that are not easily understandable to Joey. Joey was identified as having a hearing loss when he was age 4 and was fitted with hearing aids and placed in his local school district where he has been “educated” for the past 10 years. He is currently in the ninth grade but reads on a second-grade level and has minimal writing skills. In essence, Joey has “failed” his way into DSD. Joey will participate in the ninth-grade assessment with accommodations because he does not meet the criteria established for the alternate assessment.

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