Graduate project

Identification of factors perceived as influencing the quality of educational services to deaf students in the Worcester Public School System, Worcester, Massachusetts

The Worcester Public Schools' Program for the Hearing Impaired has been in existence for more than thirty years. In the 1985-86 school year, the program served thirty-eight deaf students from in and around Worcester County, and practices the philosophy of Total Communication. Students may be partially or totally mainstreamed according to individual abilities, with the appropriate support services. Administrators and Staff members of this program were surveyed to: 1)Identify the factors perceived as influencing the quality of services to deaf students; 2) Identify the current needs of the program; 3) Identify any differences in the perceptions of administrators versus those of teachers and staff members. Results of the survey indicate that some of the elements of successful mainstream programs for deaf students, as set forth in the literature, are evident in this program. The degree of success was not measured, and some areas of concern were identified by the respondents. The need for pertinent in-service or staff development opportunities was strongly indicated. A comparison was made of administrative involvement in the areas of program evaluation, staff evaluation, curriculum evaluation, and providing pertinent in-service opportunities between "how it is" and "how it should be". Responses indicated that the staff believes that administrators should be more involved in these areas. Respondents gave a low rating to the quality of department meetings, coordination of programs, and communication among staff members, again indicating that these elements of the program are in need of improvement. Due to the low rate of response from administrators of the program, an optimal comparison between perceptions of administrators and those of the staff could not be made. This is an area which merits further investigation. This study was intended to identify the perceptions and needs of the personnel involved in the Worcester Public Schools' Program for the Hearing Impaired. It is hoped that the study will serve as a starting block from which further assessments and program modifications can be made.