On November 29th, wrote a great entry on this blog called Working in Collaboration. It raised the issue of special education students and regular education students related to assessment. This is a big issue for all districts. How do we handle grading without compromising the integrity of the assessment? The real question is one that many states and school districts are dealing with, which is related to growth.
However, I would like to talk about a subset of special education and that is the children who are Deaf in our schools. I did mean to capitalize deaf because there is a difference. Deaf with a capital "D" means those students who are deaf and use sign language and are part of the deaf community and culture as well. There is another group who are deaf and these are lower case "d" students. These students are medically deaf but do not associate with the deaf community or embrace Deaf culture. I am really only addressing those students who are Deaf. This group is very large and should be handled in a different way than almost any other disability. These students primary language is American Sign Language (ASL). This is a true language as it has been proven by Stokoe
In my mind these students are ELL students, however, under NCLB, they are not counted as such and most states make no accommodations for them. The language they use everyday has a different morphology and phonology than English and this is a language that they use to communicate on a daily basis. They must learn English grammar by reading only and never pick up language by "hearing" it. They miss out on all of the side conversations and other ways of learning the language.
As leaders, we need to make sure that we handle the few Deaf students in our school or school district a bit differently. Especially when we are talking about assessment. There are also other groups that are out there and we need to understand so that we truly do not leave any child behind.
(full disclosure-I have a Masters in Deaf Education from Gallaudet University and taught at American School for the Deaf)