Strand: Best practices for equitable learning environments
Time: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 from 9:15 – 10:30 am
The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) will share how we use data-informed root causes to (a) promote evidence-based strategies and (b) foster supportive relationships with local communities, both in an effort to improve educational and employment outcomes for a diverse deaf population. NDC will share examples of evidence-based practices, resources, and activities through this OSEP-funded technical assistance center.
Stephanie Cawthon, Ph.D.
National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
Biography: Dr. Stephanie W. Cawthon is the Director of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes, OSEP-funded Technical Assistance and Dissemination project that promotes positive postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals. She is an Associate Professor in Educational Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin with a long history of scholarship in issues related to accessibility and equality for deaf individuals in education and employment.
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Carrie Lou Garberoglio, Ph.D.
National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
Biography: Dr. Carrie Lou Garberoglio is an educational researcher and evaluator affiliated with the Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk at the University of Texas at Austin, and Associate Director of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes. She also teaches research methods and statistics coursework at the University of Northern Colorado. Carrie Lou obtained her PhD in Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
Social Media: (Twitter)(Facebook)
Access to equitable education is important for the development of youth today, yet there is evidence of significant gaps in educational attainment across diverse and marginalized groups. While students with disabilities are afforded access a ‘Free Appropriate Public Education” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, educational opportunities presented may not be equitable to those of their non-disabled peers. This is gap evident in the national numbers representing postsecondary outcomes of deaf students, the focus of this presentation. Even though deaf students are graduating high school at record levels, yet statistics unveil significant gaps in their secondary and postsecondary attainment. The gap in high school completion rate across the U.S. is 6% between deaf (83%) and hearing (89%) students. The bachelors’ degree attainment gap between deaf (18%) and hearing (33%) individuals is 15%. Furthermore, educational attainment gaps increase to as high as 22% for marginalized populations, individuals from different ethnic or racial groups, or those who are deafdisabled.
Education is the gateway to employment and social mobility. Yet, despite the promising trends in postsecondary attainment and improvements in legal policies regarding access, the employment gap between deaf and hearing people is of significant concern. For example, employment rates for deaf adults overall; is just 48% compared with 72% for their hearing peers, a gap of 24%, with the majority of this gap attributed to differences in the percentage of individuals who are no longer in the labor force (vs. actively searching for a job). The above gaps in education are important because there is a direct correlation between employment rates of deaf individuals and level of education attainment.
The mission of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) is to provide support that closes these education and employment gaps. While a focus on outcomes is useful, it does not deepen our understanding of the factors and conditions that lead to these results. Deaf students face many barriers and challenges as they move from high school into college, training programs, and the workplace. NDC conducted a root cause analysis of existing literature to identify underlying causes that affect deaf individuals’ levels of postsecondary education and employment attainment. Root causes identified including (a) limited access to language and communication, (b) reduced social opportunities, (c) negative attitudes and biases, and (d) lack of qualified and experienced professionals. There is no simple solution to these challenges, but we know that one thing is true: We must all work together to make sure that deaf students are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them.
A review of current data on postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals calls to question the level of equitable opportunities and variability across the nation. Available data shows that for those of us who share the goal of increasing postsecondary success in deaf communities, there are some areas of optimism, yet also some areas of concern. The implications of the education gaps described above are significant. Compared to deaf individuals without a college degree, deaf college graduates have greater career mobility, enhanced earnings, and an increased likelihood of stable employment. Deaf individuals who have not completed postsecondary education are at risk for underemployment and unemployment, and they are also more likely to have shorter job tenure. Within the deaf population, current data reveal significant gaps in postsecondary outcomes for deaf people of color and deaf people with additional disabilities, which is crucial for the field to consider. There is also significant variation in postsecondary outcomes for deaf individuals across states. This presentation will include a series of multimedia resources that make complex data accessible for a variety of audiences. These will be shared to encourage further conversations about how this information can guide practice and policy decisions.
Shifting the focus from the symptoms of the problem but rather to the underlying causes of issues is critical to moving the needle towards improvement. NDC conducted a root cause analysis of existing literature to identify factors impacting education and employment outcomes. This root cause analysis is important in working towards solutions because it shifts the focus to uncovering and addressing causes of conditions not just the symptoms (Bagian et al., 2002; Wilson et al., 1993).
Evidence Based Strategies.
Drawing from this understanding of the root causes of challenges to deaf individuals’ postsecondary attainment, NDC identified practices that can mitigate the impact of root causes and associated negative outcomes. NDC focuses on the following five key impact areas: Designing Accessible Environments, Promoting High Expectations for Success, Collecting and Using Data for Decision-Making, Leveraging Community Resources, and Developing Collaborative and Integrated Systems. The National Deaf Center provides technical assistance to stakeholders on how to implement evidence based strategies that support deaf students in postsecondary education and training settings.
Implementation of these practices requires a shared vision and collaboration between all members of the system, including community organizations, institutions, and state and federal level agencies. This systems based approach can result in an increased capacity to implement evidence-based practices and strategies, and, when accompanied by an improvement approach to systems change, increase the body of knowledge on how these strategies result in positive outcomes for deaf individuals. This section of the presentation will also include specific examples of how these strategies for success have been implemented for diverse deaf populations.
NDC recognized the path to improved outcomes also includes actively involving the communities surrounding youth today. One of our goals is to build models of community networks to leverage social capital available at the local level with community clusters. This is an opportunity for families, in particular, to strategize and problem solve issues within their lived context. These networks will have a special emphasis on strategies to support positive outcomes for individuals underserved in the deaf population, including those who are not college bound and recent immigrants to the United States. This model responds to the need for active capacity building at the local level to both identify promising practices and to deliver evidence-based intervention. Taken in conjunction with the strong social media and outreach approach to sharing information, the community cluster model invites community members into the process of identifying critical needs and potential solutions, thus increasing buy-in and the chance for successful impact on postsecondary outcomes.
Drawing from the community conversation model based at the Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Vanderbilt University, NDC will model how “community asset-mapping” is used to identify the existing resources, opportunities, and organizations in a community and then addresses barriers to reaching target constituents. Community conversations are effective because they are focused opportunities for dialogue around concrete issues (Campbell et al., 2013). Beyond the purpose of focus groups, community conversations raise participants’ expectations about what is possible and encourage participants to work toward formulating solutions to problems. This model can be replicated by participants in their own contexts.
Through strategic, innovative, research-based technical assistance on national, state, and local level NDC seeks to transform systems and increase the postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion rates for a diverse deaf population. Yet, we recognize no one entity can provide the range of expertise required for transformational change across all levels of the system.
We believe that change can only happen if everyone is involved. Participants at the National Summit for Educational Equity are have a shared vision for educational opportunities for all communities. This is an opportunity for NDC contribute to capacity building, knowledge, and skills of participants in order to actively contribute to transforming education for deaf students or other marginalized populations. While the focus of this session is on deaf individuals, participants interested in this session will gain insight and strategies for reaching other low-incidence, culturally diverse, or underserved populations. The strategies we propose – data use, evidence-based strategies, and inclusive dialog – are effective across a wide range of contexts and diverse populations. Deaf individuals are not alone in facing systemic barriers in education and employment, the evidence-based strategies and practices can create opportunities for improved postsecondary outcomes for any population.