What’s Not Covered
The Standards should be recognized for what they are not as well as what they are. The most important intentional limitations are as follows.
The Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach. For instance, the use of play with young children is not specified, but it is welcome as a valuable activity in its own right and as a way to help students meet the expectations outlined in the Standards. Furthermore, while the Standards make reference to particular forms of content (e.g., ASL stories, poetry), they do not enumerate all of or even most of the content that students should learn. The Standards must, therefore, be complemented by a well-developed, content-rich curriculum consistent with the expectations laid out in the standards.
The Standards focus on what is most essential; they do not describe all that can or should be taught. A great deal is left to the discretion of teachers and curriculum developers. The Standards articulate the fundamentals; they do not set out an exhaustive list of goals, activities, or restrictions that limit what can be taught.
The Standards are not remedial. It is beyond the scope of the Standards to address all that is important in educating deaf and hard of hearing students (e.g., social, emotional, and/or physical development), and the Standards also do not encompass the potential range of content areas into which ASL may be integrated. Deaf and hard of hearing children entering kindergarten are expected to arrive at school with age-appropriate ASL fluency; the Standards are not intended to provide remedial ASL for non-signing deaf or hard of hearing children or deaf or hard of hearing children beginning to learn ASL. The starting point for the Standards is the assumption that children have arrived with grade-level fluency in ASL. For a variety of reasons, these students may not have been provided with adequate exposure to ASL at home or in their Pre-K setting. Like their hearing counterparts who enter English Language Arts programs from cultures in which English was not used, these students will need to get caught up. Teachers will need to address curriculum strategies for students who, for whatever reason, do not meet the entry-level expectation.
The Standards are not designed for hearing students learning ASL as a second language. The American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA) has developed standards for these hearing students—Standards for Learning American Sign Language—that provides instructional guidelines for ASL in K-16 level settings (Ashton, Brown Kurz, Cagle, Newell, Peterson & Zinza, 2008). The ASLTA standards “reflect the framework of communicative modes as established by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and incorporate the goals of the 5 C’s of foreign language instruction—communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities” (Ashton et al., 2008). It is important to differentiate between standards appropriate for deaf and hard of hearing students who use ASL as their first language and standards for other students who are learning ASL as a second language.