Beyond the Fourth Grade Glass Ceiling: Understanding Reading Comprehension Among Bilingual/Bimodal Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

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Beyond the Fourth Grade Glass Ceiling: Understanding Reading Comprehension Among Bilingual/Bimodal Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

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Title: Beyond the Fourth Grade Glass Ceiling: Understanding Reading Comprehension Among Bilingual/Bimodal Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students
Author: Scott, Jessica A. ORCID  0000-0002-2385-598X
Citation: Scott, Jessica A. 2015. Beyond the Fourth Grade Glass Ceiling: Understanding Reading Comprehension Among Bilingual/Bimodal Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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Abstract: Research has found that, on average, deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students graduate from high school reading at the fourth grade level (Allen, 1986). Additionally, DHH children of deaf parents (Charrow & Fletcher, 1974) and those with strong American Sign Language (ASL) proficiency (Strong & Prinz, 1997) tend to outperform DHH students without parents who are proficient in ASL.
The Simple View of Reading (SVR; Gough & Tunmer, 1986) suggests that reading comprehension is a product of decoding and language proficiency. Many DHH students have limited auditory access, and may struggle to acquire English, especially the more demanding academic English characteristics of school texts (Mayer & Wells, 1996). Academic English has been identified as a strong predictor of reading comprehension among hearing children (Uccelli et al., 2015). Guided by a modified SVR model, in this study I investigate DHH secondary school students’ reading comprehension as predicted by receptive ASL proficiency, word reading fluency/decoding, and academic English proficiency.
Guided by prior research on DHH and hearing students, I investigate the hypothesis that for secondary school DHH students enrolled in ASL/English bilingual/bimodal schools for the deaf, academic English proficiency is a significant predictor of reading comprehension alongside ASL proficiency. In this study, a sample of secondary school DHH students were tested in ASL proficiency, academic English proficiency, word reading fluency (a proxy for decoding), and reading comprehension.
Using linear regression, an interaction between academic English proficiency and word reading fluency was detected, such that the lower the level of academic English proficiency, the higher the impact of word reading fluency on reading comprehension. ASL skills predicted reading comprehension across all models. Findings support a model in which socio-demographic factors, ASL proficiency, and word reading fluency are predictors of reading comprehension for secondary DHH students.
This study is innovative in assessing three sets of language and reading skills essential for DHH students’ reading comprehension. The continued adaptation of instruments that target these constructs, as well as studies with larger samples, are critical to further explore the innovative theoretical model of reading comprehension for DHH students proposed in this study.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16461045
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