Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for OSD

REPORT ON THE ACCREDITATION SITE VISIT Of THE Oregon School for the Deaf  APRIL 4-8, 2005

Conference of Educational Administrators of schools and programs for the Deaf

Validation Team

Dr. John W.Balk, Chair, Ohio School for the Deaf

Joseph P. Finnegan, CEASD Executive Director

Linda Mitchell, Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

Dr. Madan Vashista, Gallaudet University

Introduction and Affirmation

At the Request of Oregon School for the Deaf, the conference of Educational Administrators of schools and Programs for the Deaf, INC. (CEASD) sent a four-person On-site visiting team to the schools as a part of CEASD Accreditation activities. The purpose for the team’s visit was to validate the information that the school included in it comprehensive review of its programs. The visit occurred on April 4-8, 2004 and included a complete review of the self-study document, interviews with staff and parents also students and other constituents of the school.

Affirmation

The CEASD, its Executive Committee, and its committee on Accreditation of schools and Programs, affirm that this report is a privileged document. It is submitted to the chief Executive Officer of the school being reviews, and only she may make the decision to distribute the report to other interested parties. No member of CEASD, in any capacity, is authorized to release the information contained in this report.

The CEASD affirms that the primary purpose of the on-site team has been to:

  1. Collect and analyze the information in the student/community profile
  2. Review the formulation of beliefs and the development of the school’s mission statement
  3. The identified results for student learning
  4. Review the data analyzed to determine those results
  5. Determine the extent to which instructional and organizational practices within the school are aligned to support student learning
  6. Examine the individual programs and support services
  7. Review the school Improvement Plan and its cycle for review and implementation

The On-Site team has made every attempt to evaluate effectiveness of total school program using the school’s self-study as a guiding document. Additionally, the onsite team has reviewed the school’s program in terms of meeting CEASD policies, Standards, Criteria and guidelines,

The CEASD Accreditation purpose is NOT intended to do:

  1. Provide the visited school with technical assistance
  2. Evaluate the performance of members of the school’s faculty or staff
  3. Promote or prescribe the use of any commercial instructional supplies, materials, equipment or programs

In a effort to understand preferred practices in schools for deaf children, school personnel are referred to a publican prepared by the National Association of State Directors or Special Education (NASDSE), Deaf and Hard Of Hearing students, Educational Service Guidelines. Although the NASDSE Guidelines are not intended to be a prerequisite of “standards” prior to seeking accreditation, the visiting team will view the school’s improvement plan and activities with these Guidelines as a framework for program excellence.

The CEASD further affirms that the purpose of the On-Site Visit has not been to promote or prescribe the sue of any commercial instructional supplies, materials, equipment or programs. References to instructional materials, Equipment or supplies in this or any CEASD Accreditation Report are intended to be generic.

Finally, the CEASD affirms that the individuals selected to conduct the site visit have exercised professional judgment and integrity in developing the conclusions here in reported. Neither the CEASD, it’s committee on Accreditation of schools and programs for the Deaf, nor members conducting this site visit are to be held accountable injudicious or unauthorized use of this document.

DEVELOPMENT OF THE STADD/STUDENT/COMMUNITY PROFILE

General Observations

The first Section of the self-study document provided a thorough and helpful analysis of the most important part of the Oregon school of the Deaf: its people. From reading through the Section, the ream was able to clearly understand the different groups of people that constitute the administration, Faculty and staff. In addition, the team was able to get a good feel for the different student groups of the school, which was a helpful and important preparation for the classroom, and dormitory program visits.

School-wide documents such as Employee Handbooks, Student/Parent Handbooks and other similar policy/procedure publications where presented to the Team both as appendices to the section as well as resources available for review during the on-site visit. A review of the materials revealed them to be current and comprehensive. The Team concurred with the school’s finding that the handbooks and the process of review for them is an exemplary practice.

Commendations

The materials present in response to section one of the CEASD Accreditation Guidelines where concisely stated and complete in nature. The population profile of the school’s administration/faculty/staff and to the student groups played an important role in helping the team prepare for the visit to the school, and served as a comprehensive and thorough introduction for the visiting team.

The Exemplary practices and future goal areas identified in each part of section one where well documented in the narrative portion in each part, and found their genesis on the survey data collected by the school as a part of the preparation of the self-study. The references to the survey supplied in each part of the section where also helpful in understanding the process used by the school to develop the responses to section one Guideline.

The Future goal area of a charitable foundation is a worthy consideration for the school and might be a goal considered in inclusion in the Design for Excellence. The CEASD should be considered as an important resource for the school in this effort; it can provide information to assist OSD in the investigation of the different kinds of foundations already in existence at other member schools, their structure, administration and revenue enhancement ideas.

The visiting team was able to verify that OSD accreditation steering Committee prepared, distributed and complied the results of a basic survey sent to various and appropriate stakeholder groups. This fundamentally important part of the school improvement process, and the team appreciated the hard work involved in this part of the process. The results of the survey where very interesting, and they will prove useful to the Leadership Team at OSD.

The most significant document for this section of the Self-Study was the strategic school improvement plan entitled Design For Excellence. This rather comprehensive document has been used to bring together all of the various planning processes happing on campus. In it, the Team was able to identify the vision, Philosophy and Mission which are used to direct and influence to the team that OSD has been and continues t be deeply involved in a number of productive planning activities; far surpassing the CEASD Self-Study.

OSD is to be commended or the manner in which the OSD mission statement is clearly posted all over campus. The team was very impressed by the number and location of these posters. This effort clearly helped unify the OSD school community under one statement.

OSD is to be commended for the nature of, amount of and dedication to the school’s improvement process.

OSD is to be commended for the manner in which the findings from the surveys have been incorporated into the development of the future goal areas.

OSD should consider the development of a campus-wide staff Development goal or plan.

Although the table of contents of the Design for Excellence indicates that there is a safety committee as well as a deaf forum, there where no goals for either group in the document. Both areas are identified as important to the OSD Community, and, therefore should have goal statement identified for them.

General Observations

OSD’s Curricular is based on Oregon Department of Education curricular used in public schools. Supervisors of academic departments attend curriculum meetings at a school district level. Additional instructional material is identified or developed to meet individual students needs. Department supervisors coordinate these efforts. This coordination appears to be good within departments, but inter-departmental coordination appears to be minimal.

A battery of test is available and used for measuring student progress through the grades. Oregon’s statewide assessment system is used for assessing students in the areas of:

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Public Speaking
  • Social Science

Students not functioning at grade level take lower grade test. This helps build a profile for each student. OSD has developed an extensive system of test accommodations, with the participation of staff from OSD; any of which can be provided to OSD students during test administration. These accommodations include such things as additional time and provision of sign language interpretation, among others.

Extended Assessments are used for students who function below established benchmarks.  

ODE staff developed this assessment instrument, and it is very helpful in determining achievement levels of students, particularly those students in the Extended Studies Program (ESP). No child left behind (NCLB) high stakes testing has not been had an effect on OSD.

With the increasing numbers of minority students at OSD, it is important that school administration starts planning on how to infuse more multicultural aspects into curricular and school programming. The “Around The World” study only provides an introductory level if understanding the cultures of the world. A curriculum that provides in-depth understanding of various cultures of the world and, especially within the United States, should be considered.

Several curricular in the process of development where discussed with staff; Visual Communications, Accelerated Reading and Counseling are examples of curricular that the faculties are committed to and excited about their potentials to enhance established curricular and school programming.

A high percentage of OSD students graduate with a regular diploma. This factor is viewed to be a strong indicator of the effectiveness of OSD’s overall educational program.

Collaboration and Cooperation with local school districts and the Oregon Department of Education helps keep the school abreast of new developments in general education. This school is to be commended for fostering these important relationships.

The Extended studies Program (ESP) is a positive and important programming component targeted at students with additional special needs.

The faculty is involved in developing curricular. This is an important indication of a strong instructional program.

OSD should consider how it could increase interdepartmental curriculum development straggles. Initial measures on this area have been implemented, and additional efforts will have very positives impacts on the K-12 school programs.

OSD should explore the possibility of summer programming.

The Elementary department and the middle school department share a supervising teacher who oversees the educational program for approximately 45 children in grades K-8. The middle school is about twice the size of the elementary school, with 4 teachers in the elementary department and 5 in the middle school. Teachers and staff where very accommodating and welcoming the visiting team. WE observed classes and chatted with both students and staff throughout our visit. We felt that staff where candidly honest in their responses to us and allowed us access to all areas of their programs.

The groupings for the elementary students are made via recommendations of the teachers, and the usual criteria include a combination of the student of the student’s age and ability. The parents of the student’s must also approve the groupings. Transition to the middle school program occurs by age 11, with students entering at age 5. The supervising teacher does groupings for the middle school. Again, the parents are involved in the process. 

Students in the grades 9 through 12 are grouped by ability and placed in the required classes at each grade level. The high school supervising teacher develops a master schedule in the spring of each year and students sign up for required classes and electives, according to their interests, transition plans, career goals and abilities. Extended Studies Program (ESP) students may also participate in high school classes, depending on their needs as determined in the IEP.

OSD participates in such programs as “Character Counts” and “Circles” for the purpose of working on social skills development. Additionally, signs of explanation about the harassment are also posted in the hallways as are other visual posters promoting positive behavior. The middle school post a points system for students to earn rewards for positive behavior. Rewards include special privileges, life field trips. Pictures where also posted for examples of appropriate and inappropriate dress for students.

Students who attend OSD come for a variety of reasons like socialization, direct instruction using sign language, small class size, deaf culture, ETC. Counselors teach classes or have groups that deal with social skills development and would like to see more specialists (autism, LD, Psychiatric support for mental health issues, ETC) in place to deal with the complexities that students bring with them to OSD. Staff believes that students who currently attend OSD are more complicated than those who have attended OSD in the past.

Students have opportunities to participate in sports activities against hearing peers. They also have the option of attending the public schools with an interpreter for part of the school day if they are interested in attending a class at the public school. For those who elect this option, half their school day is spent in an environment with hearing peers. Students who work off campus also have the opportunity to work in an environment with hearing people. OSD’s Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops participate with other scouting troops in activities throughout the year. Public schools take ASL classes at OSD and occasionally students take an elective class that allows them to be immersed in sign language.

Technology is an important part of the daily curriculum of students and staff at OSD. Computers are accessible in both the school buildings and the dormitory. Sidekicks are also very popular with students, although they are not used in class time; they are often seen in use in the hallways during passing time.

The art teacher was not hired specifically to work with elementary and middle school students. She was hired for the High School department, but for the first time we intentionally wrote the position description the expectation of providing art instruction to elementary and middle school, as well high school.

The Development of the extended Studies Program provides transition options for the students who are graduation (18) but not yet 21 years of age, and are in need of services and coursework that OSD can provide.

Reconditions

OSD is to be commended for the establishment of the program known as the Panther Deli. The exposure to Culinary Arts and the potential for developing skills in a career related area makes this project a positive addition to the curriculum. 

OSD is to be commended for not only having a communication policy in place, but also a process for classified staff to increase their hourly rate of pay if they meet in the required level of American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASL PI) rating system.

OSD is to be commended for offering sign language classes to parents, staff and the general public. Building relationships with the external community is an important part of the “PR” necessary in raising level of awareness about OSD to the general public.

OSD is to be commended for the focus placed on literacy at all ages and grade levels. The philosophy at OSD is that “every teacher is a reading teacher” and that it is everyone’s responsibility to teach reading. The required reading classes’ demonstrate this emphasis students must take.

OSD staffs that have direct contact with students have excellent sign language skills. Everyone we met had both very good receptive and expressive sign language skills!

OSD should consider the possibility of having parent meetings using the teleconferencing room so that the parents who live a distance from the school can participate without the additional travel time. OSD should also consider offering sign language instruction using the media.

When support staff where asked about the pluses of the OSD program, there where numerous responses. The first was the opportunity to be creative and flexible, exploring what is best for each child. Staffs are able to match the needs and interest of children and are able to design programs that best meet the needs of the individual child through the IEP. Staffs also feel that OSD employees in all departments care very much about the children and work very hard using the best they have to provide appropriate programming for the students. Staff in the support services area did express concern about the complexities of the students who are attending OSD, and they would like to have expertise available to access these students and provide advice and expertise.

Some support staff teach classes to assist with the challenges in scheduling.

Contracts have been developed with O.T./P.T. staff so that students can receive these services at OSD.

Recommendations

OSD should review the need expressed for more technology hardware that is desired for the classrooms so that students can have more access to computers.

OSD should explore additional school year or summer services so that summer programs can be offered for OSD students.

OSD should consider ways to address the social work-type needs expressed frequently by the support staff interviewed.

OSD should consider the development of a big brother/big sister programs to provide social and “family” support to students.

OSD could review the possibility of a parent volunteer program to assist during the school day when additional staff is needed,

When students and their families become interested in OSD as an educational option, their school district contacts the OSD departmental principal to schedule a placement meeting. The principal attends this meeting in the child’s local district, and may request that other OSD staff (dean of students, Psychologist etc) attend as well. It was noted that IEP records and other private information about the student’s remains confidential, kept under lock and key, and is handled professionally by staff at OSD. In Oregon, files are purged and archived at the end of the school year or when the student leaves OSD.

Sign Language assistance is provided for students and staff by the ASL specialist hired this year. Classes are also available for staff and families and others related to OSD interested in improving their signing skills.

Recommendations

OSD staff is to be commended for making the effort to attend placement meetings in the local school districts. These efforts provide opportunities to build positive relationships with the local school districts.

OSD staffs perform additional assessments on students newly enrolled within 6 weeks of their arrival. These assessments are done to get a better understanding of the student’s present level of performance and to provide more information for class placement decisions.

OSD should continue to review ways that it can promote the Oregon School for the Deaf as a positive and exciting educational placement option, as well as how it can keep the school’s name out in front of the regional programs in order to raise their level of awareness about the services that OSD can provide.

OSD should continue to work on promoting activities and involvement for parents.

The Dean of students was very open to suggestions and improvements in the dorm areas. While there are Definite budget restrictions for OSD at the present time, every effort has been made to make cosmetic improvements to the living areas of the dorms. Fresh paint and artistic touches have been revived the areas and created a brighter, more pleasing decor. Students interviewed commented about “too many rules” in the residential settings, but they also acknowledged that they had opportunities to express themselves and to make request for changes,

Dormitory staff participate in IEP meetings either through written comments on report forms or through direct communication when a staff member attends the IEP meeting. The visiting team observed that there is more communications between dorm and school in the elementary and middle school grades than there is in the High school. This may be the logical result of the growing independence of the high school students.

The dorm areas where visited during the after-school program time. The visiting team observed that the students where fully engaged in the activates provided. Activities included such things as dance, small engine repair, and make-up practice for drama, ceramics. Painting the props for the haunted house, and designing areas for the haunted house. Currently there are approximately 30 boys and 30 girls living in the residence halls with another 7 elementary students who stay in Wallace Hall.

Staff has done a terrific job of providing a variety of activities for the students after school in the dorms.

The “haunted house” project is not only a wonderful opportunity for students to learn woodworking skills, but is a great fun-raiser for the dormitory programs.

The dean of student’s works very hard with the present facilities to create a living environment that is pleasant and attractive to students.

The dorms have both student and staff handbooks in place for residential living, and it is clear that the dean of students makes efforts to ensure the safety and well being of all the students.

OSD is to be commended for providing apartment living opportunities for students who are ready to learn independent living skills and habits.

It is a “plus” that the facilities provided in the residential area that have private bathroom facilities for each room.

OSD should consider using some of the Haunted house earnings to purchase more computer equipment for the dormitories.

OSD should consider a residential facilities/programming study to focus on and review use and cost factors in order to determine the bus use of residential facilities.

The dean of students and the residential staff should continue to work on improving communication with the high school department. 

The climate at OSD is a genuine, caring environment. The visiting team felt that OSD staffs have the best interest if the students at heart and work very hard to assist students in their success. The manner in which people interact is a demonstration of the respect and patience with which students of all ages interacted with members of the visiting team. Members of the Middle School student Body Council met with us and we where very impressed with their maturity, self-confidence and intellect.

Students are demonstrating appropriate social skills as evidenced by their selections as the Sportsmanship winners at their basketball tournament this winter.

Students and staff where very polite and helpful as the visiting team toured the OSD campus and entered classes.

A climate conductive to program creativity and supporting individual initiative is a commendable facet of the OSD organizational climate. Individual staff members have worked very hard at creating new programs and projects for OSD, such things as the Panther Deli, the Wetlands project and BEAT.

The numbers and variety of awards and recognitions for both students and staff at OSD is to be commended.

OSD should strive to promote collaboration across department and respect for each other’s work- especially the high school staff and the residence hall staff.

Use a positive manner to promote signing at all time so that the Deaf staff and students will have consistent complete direct communication access at all times.

The CEASD On-Site Accreditation team visited the Oregon School for the Deaf April 4th to the 7th of 2004. The visit was conducted at the request of the school as a part of the CEASD Accreditation process.

The following general commendations and recommendations are offered in addition to the commendation and recommendation listed in each Section Report:

The CEASD On-Site Accreditation Team wishes to express its deepest thanks to OSD Director Jane Mulholland and her entire staff for the very warm hospitality shown to the Team through the entire visit. Special thanks are also extended to the members of the school’s Accreditation Steering Committee for their hard work and generous gift of time to the school’s efforts.

The CEASD on site team wishes to commend the school’s Accreditation steering committee for their hard work and aggressive campaign in getting the User satisfaction survey completed by the school community. This was a crucial step in the process and the team was impressed with the rate of the survey return.

The CEASD On-Site team wishes to commend the school’s nutrition services staff for the quality and selection of the meals made available to OSD students at mealtimes.

The CEASD on-Site team wishes to compliment the OSD school community on its wonderful collegial spirit that it was so obvious to the team during the visit. In addition, the Team wishes to commend the school faculty and staff for its genuine attitude of caring for its students; their welfare and their success.

The CEASD On-Site team wishes to recognize and commend the school’s maintenance and facilities staff for the manner in which the school’s buildings and beautiful grounds have been maintained.

The CESD On-Site Team wishes to commend the school and its alumni Association for their close working relationship, especially as exemplified by the school’s museum. It is a tremendous showpiece whose collection and antiquities represent a source of interest and pride not only for the school’s community, but also for citizens of the state of Oregon.

The CEASD On-site team wishes to commend the school for the evolutions of school improvement planning to include the school-wide goals. The maturation in planning process evident to the team is an important step in pursuing improvement goals with broader impact on the school and community groups.

The team would recommend to the school that more careful, comprehensive and consistent administrative attention, coordination and oversight needs to be focused on the area of curriculum, especially curricular linkage and assessment.

The Team would recommend to the school administration that it initiates a positive dialogue and campaign to promote the importance of signing at all times on campus.

The team would recommend to the school administration that it consider strategies to recruit and hire and qualified deaf staff in all vacancies as they occur, both faculty and staff.

Recommendations

The team would recommend that the school continue the practice of providing sign language instruction for support staff.

The team would recommend that OSD undergo a comprehensive facilities evaluation and plan to address all buildings on campus.

The team would recommend that OSD consider a staffing study during the 2004-2005 school year that would focus on emerging and existent programming needs and how current-staffing levels could be creatively used to meet them.

The team would recommend that High School Department and Support Staff Departments collaborate on opportunities for OSD students to receive job training on campus. This innovative idea should be pursued in order to capitalize on the wonderful learning opportunities available at residential school for the deaf and at the same time take advantage of the communication access available across campus that is not existent in the larger job market.

After a comprehensive review of all accreditation and school improvement materials presenter to it, and, following a four-day visit to the school for the purpose of interviewing staff, affirming offerings to students and their parents, the CEASD Accreditation On-Site Team believes that all parts of the CEASD Accreditation process have been appropriately addressed by the school, its steering Committee and its School Improvement Committee. Accordingly, the team recommends that the CEASD Accreditation Committee award full ACCREDITATION.