Urgency to Improve Native Student Achievement

New Brief Underscores Urgency to Improve Native Student Achievement

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WASHINGTON (August 13, 2013) — Despite recent progress in improving achievement among students of color, achievement results for Native students have remained nearly flat. As performance has stagnated, the gaps separating Native students from their white peers have mostly widened.

A new brief from The Education Trust, “The State of Education for Native Students,” finds that schools aren’t performing nearly well enough for Native students – defined as American Indian and Alaska Native students. In 2011, only 18 percent of Native fourth-graders were proficient or advanced in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), compared with 42 percent of white fourth-graders. In math, only 17 percent of Native eighth-graders were proficient or advanced, and nearly half (46 percent) performed below even the basic level. For white students, the pattern was almost exactly the reverse, with 17 percent below basic and 43 percent proficient or advanced.

This low achievement for Native students is coupled with little to no improvement over time. In fact, NAEP results for Native students improved more slowly between 2005 and 2011 than for any other major ethnic group. As a result, while Native students were performing better in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math than African American and Latino students in 2005, by 2011 that lead had all but disappeared.

“Our country’s focus on raising achievement for all groups of students has left behind one important group – Native students,” said Kati Haycock, president of The Education Trust. “To ensure that all Native students succeed, we must do more and better for them starting now.”

Achievement for Native students has continued to lag in higher education as well. Of the Native students who enrolled in a four-year college in the fall of 2004, only 39 percent completed a bachelor’s degree within six years, the lowest graduation rate for any group of students.

These trends are not inevitable. Schools like Calcedeaver Elementary in Mobile County, Alabama – where 80 percent of students are American Indian – prove that Native students, like all other students, can achieve at high levels. Calcedeaver combines high expectations with rigorous instruction that aims to help students understand their heritage. The results? In 2012, 61 percent of Calcedeaver’s sixth-graders scored at the advanced level in math on Alabama’s state assessment, as compared with only 35 percent of sixth-graders statewide.

And although no state is doing as well as it should for Native students, some states are doing better than others. In 2011, the percent of students reaching proficient or advanced levels on NAEP in fourth-grade reading, for example, was at least three times higher in Oregon and Oklahoma than in Alaska and Arizona.

“There’s an urgent need to pick up the pace of improvement for Native students in this country,” said Natasha Ushomirsky, Ed Trust senior data and policy analyst and author of the brief. “Some states, schools, and institutions of higher education are already working hard to ensure progress for Native students. We need to understand what they are doing right and use those strategies to improve outcomes for Native students around the country.”

American Indian Education Resources: An Annotated Bibliography

American Indian Education Resources: An Annotated Bibliography

1. AIHEC (American Indian Higher Education Consortium). http://www.aihec.org/.  The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) provides research on tribal colleges and universities. The "Research" portion of the Web site is most useful for locating learning research.

2. Alaska Native Knowledge Network. [Online]. Alaska Federation of Natives, University of Alaska, National Science Foundation, Rural School & Community Trust. Retrieved April 8, 2002 from http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/index.html.  The Alaska Native Knowledge Network seeks to maintain the indigenous culture while providing information for the improvement of cultural learning and educational practices for Alaskan native students.

3. American Indians and Alaska Natives. [Online]. ERIC: Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. Retrieved April 10, 2002 from http://www.ael.org/eric/indians.htm.  Good source for finding research and resources for Native American education. The ERIC digests are particularly useful and are freely available on the Web. "The Clearinghouse is part of a nationwide system of 16 clearinghouses in the Education Resources Information Center. Each clearinghouse is responsible for adding to the ERIC database education-related works on specific topics."

4. Barnhardt, Ray. (2002). Teaching/learning across cultures: strategies for success. Alaska Native Knowledge Network. Retrieved April 15, 2002 from http://www.ankn.uaf.edu/TLAC.html.  This article reports that learning is improved when educators are aware of the indigenous worldview and incorporate such knowledge into the curriculum. Furthermore, Barnhardt suggests that ways of determining what has been learned should be altered as well.

5. Bobiwash, A. Rodney. (1999). Long term strategies for institutional change in universities and colleges: facilitating native people negotiating a middle ground. http://www.cwis.org/fwj/41/strat.html.  This article depicts the ideal learning environment in higher education for Native students. The author calls for higher education institutions to open their doors to the Indian population by striving to harmonize nontraditional academics with their Native background and worldview. "

6. Cajete, Gregory, “Look to the mountain: An ecology of Indigenous education,” Skyland,: Kivaki Press 1994 An important contribution to the body of indigenous cultural knowledge and a way to secure its continuance.

7. Demmert, Jr., William G. (2001). Improving academic performance among Native American students: a review of the research literature. [Online]. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. Retrieved April 8, 2002 from http://www.ael.org/eric/demmert.pdf.  Except for the tribal schools, responsibility for the education of Native children and youth has been transferred from the tribes to state agencies, mostly to administrators and other individuals outside the communities or tribes. With this transfer of responsibility, Native students began experiencing high levels of educational failure
and a growing ambivalence toward learning traditional tribal knowledge and skills. They often exhibited indifference to formal Western academic learning, as well."

8. Evans, Susan D. (2001). The potential contribution of comparative and international education to educational reform: an Examination of traditional, non-Western education. [Online]. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society (Washington, DC, March 14-17, 2001). Retrieved April 8, 2002 from http://www.indianeduresearch.net/nonwestern.pdf.  The ancient methods of education and learning are essential to the reform of modern education. The author advocates drawing paradigms from Native American cultural modes of education. The reasons for such suggestions include an emphasis on character education, integrated curriculum and lifelong learning.

9. Introduction to the DVC Learning Style Survey for College. [Online]. DVC Learning Style Survey for College. Retrieved April 15, 2002 from http://www.metamath.com//lsweb/dvclearn.htm.

10. Jacobs, Don Trent and Reyhner, Jon. (2002). Preparing teachers to support American Indian and Alaska Native student success and cultural heritage. ERIC Digest, EDO-RC-01-13. Retrieved April 8, 2002 from http://www.indianeduresearch.net/edorc01-13.htm

11. Journal of American Indian Education, http://jaie.asu.edu Is a professional journal that publishes papers directly related to the education of American Indian/Alaska Natives. The Journal also invites scholarship on educational issues pertaining to Native Peoples of the world.

12. Lipka, Jerry. (2002). Schooling for self-determination: research on the effects of including Native language and culture in the schools. ERIC Digest, EDO-RC-01-12. Retrieved April 15, 2002 from http://www.indianeduresearch.net/edorc01-12.htm.  This article discusses the impact of acculturation in American schools and ways in which this might be remedied

13. McKay, Michelle. (1999). Relating indigenous pedagogy to the writing process. Journal of Indigenous Thought. Retrieved April 15, 2002 from http://bit.ly/IndigenousPedagogy Although this article is written from a Canadian perspective, the author's intent to describe the Indigenous worldview and its role is education is valuable. The author focuses of the commonalities that exist among North American Indian nations to define the concept of "Indigenous pedagogy."

14. More, Arthur J. (1989). Native Indian learning styles: a review for researchers and teachers. Journal of American Indian Education, special ed., August 1989. Retrieved April 12, 2002 from http://jaie.asu.edu/sp/V27S1nat.htm.

This article provides a clear explanation of the current theory of learning styles and the implications of such theory in educating American Indian students.

15. National Center for Education Statistics, American Indian and Alaska Native Education. (2002). Office of Educational Research & Improvement, U.S. Dept. of Education. Retrieved April 15, 2002 from http://nces.ed.gov/.  This is a good source of statistics regarding Indian Education, including statistics on tribal colleges, graduation rates, and conditions facing Indian education.

16. NativeCulture.com. (2001). NativeCulture.com: teaching, learning and information sharing. Retrieved April 15, 2002 from http://www.nativeculture.com/learn/.  The "Teaching and Learning" component of this cultural resource supplies the reader with current research articles in education and links to various educational institutions that serve indigenous learners.

17. Office of Indian Education (OIE) http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oie/index.html The U.S. Department of Education's Native American component provides links to statistical and educational research pertaining to indigenous education.

18. Reyhner, Jon. (2002). American Indian Education. [Online]. Northern Arizona University. Retrieved April 12, 2002 from http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/AIE/index.html.  This is a Web site provided by a major researcher in the area of Native American education. Teacher resources are included, as well as research reports and issues that need to be addressed in further research.

19. Reyhner, Jon, Lee, Harry, & Gabbard, David. (1993). A specialized knowledge base for teaching American Indian and Alaska Native students. Tribal College Journal, 4(4). Retrieved April 15, 2002, from http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/TCarticle.html.

This article discusses the high-risk status of Native students in education. The main arguments address the lack of cultural appropriateness of the classroom setting and the uniqueness of educating indigenous people. The authors advocate the acquisition of Native cultural knowledge of the part of the teachers of Native students in order to facilitate a culturally appropriate learning environment.

20. Roy, Loriene and Larsen, Peter. (2002). Oksale: an indigenous approach to creating a virtual library of education resources. D-Lib Magazine, 8(3). Retrieved April 21, 2002 from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/march02/roy/03roy.html.  Although this article details the experiences of a particular project, the first half of the article describes the indigenous approach to learning which is quite useful for educators of indigenous learners.

21 Schulz, William E. and Bravi, Gerry. (1986). Classroom learning environment in North American schools. Journal of American Indian Education, 26(1). Retrieved April 8, 2002 from http://jaie.asu.edu/v26/V26S1cla.htm.

In light of the educational problems that are facing Native American educators, these authors suggest a shift in perspective in the research carried out. The lack of motivation of students is related to the kind of culture that is put forth in the education environment.

22. Swisher, Karen. (1991). American Indian/Alaskan Native learning styles: research and practice.. ERIC Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools. ED335175, 1991-05-00. Retrieved April 15, 2002, from http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed335175.html.  “An improved teaching style may be improved by understanding the learning styles and preferences of Native American students. Swisher discusses learning style research conducted in indigenous environments and makes suggestions to teachers about how they might incorporate such knowledge into their classroom and teaching style.”

23. Swisher, Karen. (1994). American Indian learning styles survey: an assessment of teachers knowledge. The journal of educational issues of language minority students, 13. Retrieved April 7, 2002 from http://www.ncbe.gwu.edu/miscpubs/jeilms/vol13/americ13.htm.

A survey of non-Indian and Indian educators, investigated the knowledge of learning styles on the part of the educators. The study also addresses how much the educators believe that cultural values of American Indians influences a student's learning style and demonstration of learning.

24. Deloria Vine Jr., and Wildcat Daniel (2001) Power and Place: Indian Education in America. American Indian Graduate Center and Fulcrum Resources, Golden, CO, This book examines the issues facing Native American students as they progress through the schools, colleges, and on into professions.

25. National Center for Education Statistics: National Indian Education Study (NIES) is administered as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nies/nies_2011/national_sum.aspx#overall

26. Joely Proudfit, Ph.D. and Seth San Juan, “The State of American Indian and Alaskan Native Education in California” California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center, California State University-San Marcos, 2012 Compiles information about American Indians and Alaska Native (AIAN) people in the K–12 system in California http://www.csusm.edu/cicsc/projects/education-report.html

27. National Center for Education Statistics (2008). Statistical Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Washington, DC: US Department of Education. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/nativetrends/

28. Carolyn J. Mar, Assimilation Through Education: Indian Boarding Schools in the Pacific Northwest, The goal of Indian education from the 1880s through the 1920s was to assimilate Indian people into the melting pot of America by placing them in institutions where traditional ways could be replaced by those sanctioned by the government http://content.lib.washington.edu/aipnw/marr.html

29. National Indian Education Association (NIEA) The National Indian Education Association advances comprehensive educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians throughout the United States http://www.niea.org,

30. National Council on American Indian Education (NCAIE) Advises the Secretary of Education concerning the funding and administration of any program, including any program established under Title VII, Part A of the ESEA, that includes Indian children or adults as participants or that may benefit Indian children or adults http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oie/nacie.html

31. Tribal Education Departments National Assembly (TEDNA) This membership organization for the Education Departments of American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes. The Native American Rights Fund and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Indian Education have supported the founding of TEDNA. http://www.tedna.org

32. Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Founded in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide http://www.narf.org/nill/resources/education.html

32. National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Established in 1944 in response to termination and assimilation policies the US government forced upon Tribal Governments in contradiction of their treaty rights and status as sovereign nations. Protecting these inherent rights remains the primary focus of NCAI http://www.ncai.org/policy-issues/education-health-human-services

33. The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) Their mission is to provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a tribe’s needs for cultural and economic well-being, in keeping with the wide diversity of Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages as distinct cultural and governmental entities. http://www.bie.edu/

34. American Indian Indigenous Education, This web site is designed to provide information, including links to related web sites, on the and current thinking about American Indian and Indigenous education. http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/AIE/index.html

35. Brittany Dorer and Anna Fetter, Cultivated Ground: Effective Teaching Practices for Native Students in a Public High School, Harvard University and the National Indian Education Association, This project was to assess the effective teaching practices being used in one or more superiorly performing United States public high schools that had a high number of American Indian/Alaskan Native students. http://bit.ly/CultivatedGround

36. The State of Education for Native Students. The study outlines that progress in improving achievement among students of color, achievement results for Native students have remained nearly flat. As achievement has stagnated, the gaps separating Native students from their white peers have mostly widened. http://bit.ly/StateOfNativeEducation

Highly Selective Colleges (education)

Greetings from the Columbia University and Yale University Offices of Undergraduate Admissions! We invite you to join us for a special series of virtual chats to learn about selective college admissions and affordability.

Jessica Cho, Assistant Director and Native American Outreach Coordinator at Columbia, and Bowen Posner, Associate Director of Admissions and Coordinator of Native American Outreach at Yale, will offer two virtual chats to cover topics that we know are of concern for families and educators. You can tune into these chats from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection, and we will offer the chance to pose questions before and during the chat!

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing the following topics:

Highly Selective AdmissionsTuesday, October 15th at 9:00pm EST: Registration Form
What does “highly selective admissions” mean? What do highly selective colleges look for in applicants? How do I best prepare myself or my students for the admission process?

Financial AidTuesday, October 29 at 9:00pm EST: Registration Form
How does one afford a college education? What resources are available to offset the cost? What does the financial aid application process entail?

Please RSVP for the session(s) that most interest you, and and we encourage you to pose any pressing questions in advance on the registration form. We hope the academic year is off to a great start and look forward to the opportunity to speak and work with you over the upcoming weeks.


Jessica Cho and Bowen Posner 

Save the Date Indian Education Conference (education/event)

We invite you to attend the 37th Annual California Conference on American Indian Education, March 16-18, 2014, at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa in Santa Rosa, CA. The conference theme is “Education Now – Idle No More!” The conference will showcase 37 years of success and growth of American Indian education in California and the impact the American Indian Education Centers have had in American Indian communities.

Suspended for Saying "I Love You" (language/education)


Menominee Seventh Grader Suspended for Saying "I Love You" in her Native Language


HAWANO, WISCONSIN - What's love got to do with it? Not much, especially if you say the words "I love you" in the Menominee language in front of a certain Wisconsin teacher.


Miranda Washinawatok


Seventh grader Miranda Washinawatok, Menominee, found this out.

Miranda speaks two languages: Menominee and English. She also plays on her basketball team. However, two Thursdays ago she was suspended for one basketball game because she spoke Menominee to a fellow classmate during class.

Miranda attends Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisconsin. The school body is over 60 percent American Indian. The school is approximately six miles from the south border of the Menominee Indian Tribe Reservation.

"On January 19 I was told by Miranda she was being benched from playing that night. I found out at 4:20 and we were back at school at 6:30 pm so I could get to the bottom of why she could not play,"

said Tanaes Washinawatok, Miranda's mother.

"Miranda kept saying she was only told by her assistant coach she was being benched because two teachers said she had a bad attitude. I wanted to know what she did to make them say she had a bad attitude."

At the school, the teachers and coaching staff seemed to want to cast blame on each other, according to Miranda's mother.

"I wanted to talk to the principal, but he was not there before the game started,"

stated Tanaes Washinawatok. Being a persistent concerned parent, Washinawatok was back at the school by 7:30 the next morning to speak to the principal.

The principal told Washinawatok that the assistant coach told him she was told by two teachers to bench Miranda for attitude problems.

The alleged 'attitude problem' turned out to be that Miranda said the Menominee word

that means

and said


in Menominee that means "I love you."

Miranda and a fellow classmate were talking to each other when Miranda told her how to say "Hello" and "I love you" in Menominee.

"The teacher went back to where the two were sitting and literally slammed her hand down on the desk and said, "How do I know you are not saying something bad?"

The story did not end there. In the next session, another teacher told Miranda she did not appreciate her getting the other teacher upset because "she is like a daughter to me."

By the time, Miranda was picked up by her mother she was upset for being suspended.

"Miranda knows quite a bit of the Menominee language. We speak it. My mother, Karen Washinawatok, is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the Menominee Tribe. She has a degree in linguistics from the University of Arizona's College of Education-AILDI American Indian Language Development Institute. She is a former tribal chair and is strong into our culture,"

states Tanaes Washinawatok.

Washinawatok has had a total of three meetings with school officials and was promised Miranda would receive a public apology, as would the Menominee Tribe, and the apologies would be publically placed.

"On Wednesday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians. A real generic letter of apology, that really did not go into specifics as to why there was this apology,"

Washinawatok told the Native News Network Thursday evening.

"I still don't think it was enough,"

Sacred Heart Catholic Academy is operated by the Diocese of Green Bay, which ironically has an option on its answering machine for Spanish, but not Menominee. A call put in late Thursday afternoon by the Native News Network was not returned by press time.

updated 1:00 pm est; updated 11:25 am est; posted February 3, 2012 6:59 am est

RezHeadz (resource/education)





Award winning motivational speaker and recording artist, "Smoke" announced that this year marks the 6th year RezHeadz Entertainment has provided Native American schools, organizations and communities top of the line motivational and educational entertainment services!


We provide something special! It is our goal to address the issues the people are facing and deliver a realistic "Rezolution" to our audience. The possibilities are limitless, says Smoke!


We have presented at hundreds of schools, conferences, community events and casinos! We love what we do, we love making a difference and guarantee an amazing event packed full of motivation, inspiration and educational entertainment!





We here at RezHeadz are proud to announce the unveiling of several new keynote topics, team building exercises,

and workshops!


Our presentations are suitable and age appropriate for youth and adults alike.


Perfect for: elementary,

middle, high school, college, staff trainging,

community events, Pow Wows, conferences, retreats, and summits. You name it we'll be a guaranteed crowd favorite!






"Jason "Smoke" is a wonderful motivational speaker! Not only can he connect to the adult audience but also the young adults as well. I had the pleasure of hearing his speech about bullying prevention. This had me and my colleagues sucked in from beginning to end with the personal stories that he included.


It was also very nice to see the young men look up to him and really listen and appreciate what he had to say.


Because of his awesome work I am working at bringing him to my community so that everyone else may admire his hard work and dedication to the Native community.

-Tiffany Chavez Big Pine Ca.




Dear readers,

We often receive requests for our pricing guide. Unfortunately we cannot readily make a pricing guide available as every request is different.


We offer so many packages and can provide multiple presenters, so of course pricing is unique to each event.


As a touring group we have core members who have developed their own unique 


As a team, we are able to work with the "booking party" to develop an agenda that meets the direct needs of the participating organization.


We have made our services available on this newsletter and of course on our website. After a date is chosen for the engagement, we can create the agenda, and as usual we will do our best to work with any budget.













In the past 6 years, the "RezHeadz Team" has created numerous programs and presentations that can relate to anyone, in any situation and suitable for any age group (Teachers and Staff included). It is through our presentations, workshops, and team building exercises the youth can express, share, and work together to address the issues they may be facing.


Our message has unlimited possibilities! Our presentations can address everything from Bullying, Gang Awareness, Teen Pregnancy, Suicide Prevention, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Higher Education, Goal Setting Techniques, Team Building for Youth or Adults, and Bonding to School, you name it we can bring it!


The 2013 "Back to School Tour" is an AMAZING idea for any community or school looking for a little motivation. In the past 5 years we have presented at more than 700 events, including the following:


The University of Houston, Haskell Indian College, United Tribes Technical College, National Unity Conference, West Coast American Indian Music Awards, Hundreds of Tribal Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, and we have even presented for congress in Washington DC.


Book your event now! For more information take a few minutes to visit us online at: www.rezheadz.com



Programs & Presentations:


Keynote Speaking:

Each Presenter has an inspiring personal story of perseverance, and dedication.



Topics Covered:

Leadership, Bullying, Suicide, Identity, Teen Pregnancy, Teen Diabetes, The Importance of Education, The 8 Great Steps to Personal Success, Entrepeneurship,Wellness, Cultural Values, Peer Pressure, Decision Making Skills, Drug and Alcohol Prevention, and Gang Awareness.



Bullying Prevention:
Smoke and the staff here at RezHeadz have created some amazing new programs designed to combat the epidemic of Bullying in any variation. These programs have been introduced to schools across the United States and have proven to generate amazing results!



Teen Pregnancy:
This educational presentation inspires on a profound level, and ignites much needed compassion amongst our young people; all the while addressing personal responsibility and respect in BOTH youth and adults.


T.E.A.M. Building:

Together Everyone Accomplishes More!



Group Exercises and Icebreakers.



Staff Traing:
Implementing effective behavioral interventions requires that all those involved in the intervention are thoroughly knowledgeable about and competent in the use of specific intervention techniques.


The Lyrical Healing Workshop:
This creative writing program was specifically created as an outlet for bottled up emotion. Once you release this energy the healing process can begin.



The Leader Within” Workshop:
We focus on several key aspects pertaining to the leader within. Creating your vision, taking charge, knowing your strengths and taking the initiative.


The Art of Entrepreneurship:

Economic Developement is understanding the core steps that are required to launch successful business ventures. These steps include: spotting, assessing, selecting and executing upon opportunities.



Suicide Prevention:
Identifying the signs, Loneliness, Helplessness, Guilt, and Depression. How to take action and provide intervention.



Gang Prevention:
The program’s goals are the prevention of gang activity in Native communities and schools through personal testimony.



D.J. Services: School Dances/ Events

Live Musical Performance






For more information or for questions about availability please call:

Jason "Smoke"  Nichols

RezHeadz Ent.






Please visit us online @