Oklahoma Schools Are Doing Something Right for Native Students

Condensed by Native Village

The National Indian Education Association presented a webinar in July to help educators and Native American organizations decipher the National Indian Educaton Study 2011.

Among the most striking observations is Oklahoma's success in educating American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students:

Oklahoma was the only state in which the average reading score for AI/AN  4th-graders was higher than the national AI/AN scores. 

Students performing at or above basic reading levels was
61% in Oregon and 59% in Oklahoma.

For 8th-graders,
69% in Oklahoma and 67% in Minnesota were at or above the basic level.

In math
, 78% of Oklahoma's AI/AN 4th-graders were at or above the basic level, the highest for any state examined. Their average math score was 234, higher than the 226 score for AI/AN 4th-graders nationwide.

In 8th grade,
64% of OK's AI/AN students performed at or above the basic level, higher than the national AI/AN student average

Oklahoma AI/AN 4th- and 8th-graders scored at or very near the top when compared with AI/AN students in other states and on a national average.

The question many are asking is:  "What is different in Oklahoma?"

“NCES [the National Center for Education Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education's National Institute of Education Sciences] is not a policy arm [of the federal government]. We are very cautious about determining causation,” said Dr. Arnold Goldstein. “To do that, it is critical to blend our information with information from other sources.”

Regarding Oklahoma, “That’s where policy makers and stakeholders can really come in to bring a  qualitative experience with the data we present. Looking at some things, I can point to free and reduced lunch. Oklahoma’s American Indians on free and reduced lunch is
69%. That in most cases is lower than the other states that we have state-level data for. For example, New Mexico, 92% of their American Indian population is on free and reduced lunch. Going back to 2009, we found again that students in Oklahoma performed better than their peers. And I think that that’s something that calls for further investigation.”

The NIEA plans to conduct their own research into the data.

“We’ll be looking at these data in detail and use this to identify what we need to be doing to provide technical assistance and capacity building support to identify specifically what needs are and next steps,”  Data Dawn Mackety from the NIEA. “This is a conversation that needs to happen here among the staff and certainly with our board of directors. Also, we’ll be turning to our membership to help us determine this  information.”

More Information: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nies/