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American Annals of the Deaf

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Testing Deaf Students in an Age of Accountability

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Unfortunately, when federal, state, and local entities design accountability systems, low-incidence disabilities such as deafness have not been a recognizable “blip” on the radar. Deaf students have not been given consideration in the development of standards and curriculum or in test design and item development. Therefore, solutions have been more reactive than proactive in nature.

Currently, DSD is working with the Delaware Department of Education to explore more appropriate and equitable ways to measure student progress, but our measures of progress are only as good as the instrument, so in Delaware, there is much work to be done. As short term solutions are investigated at the local level, DSD is working in collaboration with the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf and other organizations to examine more viable long-term solutions for equitable accountability systems and models for appropriately measuring growth for a very diverse and changing student population. All of these efforts keep high expectations for achievement at the very core of the discussion. Equality and equity are very different, and too often, educational systems focus on equality when equity is the issue. The Christina School District’s beliefs include the following statement: “Equity without excellence is tokenism and excellence without equity is privilege.” Deaf students have a right to equity and excellence.


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