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ASL Standards Action Plan

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Nationally, states have established standards and benchmarks for what students should know and be able to demonstrate in academic subject areas, including English and some foreign languages. To date, there have not been formal standards and benchmarks established for ASL learning in grades K-12. Given the importance of being able to assess students' ASL skills by comparing them against a set of standards, and planning instruction accordingly, the development of such standards is a key component of helping deaf and hard of hearing students become fluent in both ASL and English.

The ASL standards action plan focuses on the development of ASL content standards and related benchmarks for grades K-12 through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process to identify an individual or group with expertise in ASL acquisition, development, teaching, and practice to draft the standards. This two-year collaborative process will involve a critical analysis of existing research on ASL acquisition and development upon which the content standards and benchmarks will be established. Once drafted, the standards and benchmarks will go through a multi-phase review process involving linguists, educators, other professionals, and members of the public. Upon completion, the Clerc Center will disseminate the standards across the nation.

In the fall of 2010, the Clerc Center solicited proposals for a contract to develop ASL content standards for use in grades K-12. Individuals and groups with expertise in ASL acquisition, teaching, and learning were invited to submit a proposal outlining a process through which ASL standards will be established. In February of 2011, the Clerc Center announced it had awarded this contract to an innovative team composed of university-based researchers renowned for their expertise in deaf education, language and literacy development, and ASL assessment; as well as administrators, teachers, and specialists at three elementary and secondary schools for the deaf.

The university researchers are based at Boston University; the University of Manitoba; the University of California, San Diego; and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The teachers and specialists are based at the California School for the Deaf-Riverside; the Indiana School for the Deaf in Indianapolis; and The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts. See a full list of team members here.

The Clerc Center will provide periodic updates regarding the progress of this work. The target date for nationwide dissemination of the ASL content standards is early 2013.

See FAQs about ASL Content Standards.

See the press release announcing the contract award as a PDF.

See the full Request for Proposals.