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Education Dept. data shows low American Indian graduation rate
Condensed by Native Village

The achievement gap between Native and Caucasian high school students remains as wide as ever.

The Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate report from the U.S. Department of Education has been released. Data shows low high school graduation rates for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.

Among the high school graduation rates reported for AI/AN/NH students during 2010-2011:

Under 60% graduation rate: Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Washington
61% graduation rate:  Native students in Bureau of Indian Education schools
84% graduation rate:  Minnesota
Graduation rates equal to or greater than white peers: Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee
74% of AI/AN students didn't take an Advanced Placement course, even if they were capable of passing it.

Native students who do graduate are often unprepared to achieve success in higher education -- a requirement for future Native community leaders. The result is a lost generation of young men and women at a time when Native communities and the U.S. can ill-afford to lose them. This is especially true for AI/AN/NH communities affected by past federal education policies designed to wipe-out their tribal languages and cultures.

2011 National Indian Education Study also shows:

Only 32% of AI/AN 8th graders have knowledge of their history
Only 33% of Native 4th graders report that their cultural knowledge is integrated into reading instruction at least once a month.


Other problems:
Lack of access to high-quality teaching and comprehensive college-and-career content. This is critical in preparing Native students for a knowledge-based society.
Tribal communities and governments are left out of the decision making process regarding education for Native youth.

 Dr. Heather Shotton, president of the National Indian Education Association, says three critical steps can improve education for Native children:

 Pass the Native CLASS Act . Currently under consideration in Congress, Native Class Act would:
grant tribes the same authority over education as states and districts
fund culturally based education programs that improve academic achievement.

The U.S. Department of Education must fulfill its obligations to consult with the very governments, communities, and families most-concerned about the futures of Native children.

“Finally, as Native communities, we must work together to make sure that our students have access to an education that better prepare them to succeed in higher education. This includes leveraging innovations such as charter schools, as well as working with teacher training programs on recruiting and training high-quality Native and non-Native teachers.” Heather Shotton.

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