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June 9, 2016

Washington, D.C.– Earlier this week, the Department of Education (ED) released a first look at the data collected in the 2013-2014 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) Report. The CRDC is a survey of all public schools and school districts in the United States. The survey measures student access to resources, as well as information on factors like school discipline and bullying. As other reports have shown, Native students continue to face obstacles that impact their academic success. Highlights from the report show the harsh realities our students experience in public schools including:

  • Native students are disproportionately suspended from school.
  • Native high school students are also retained disproportionately.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native (26%), Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (25%) high school students are chronically absent.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native boys represent 0.6% of all students, but 2% of students expelled without educational services.
  • More than one out of five American Indian or Alaska Native (22%) and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (23%) boys with disabilities served by IDEA received one or more out-of-school suspensions, compared to one out of ten white (10%) boys with disabilities served by IDEA.

Secretary of Education, John King, said of the report, “The Obama Administration has always stressed how data can empower parents, educators and policy makers to make informed decisions about how to better serve students. The stories the CRDC data tell us create the imperative for a continued call to action to do better and close achievement and opportunity gaps.”

NIEA Executive Director Ahniwake Rose agreed saying, “This report confirms what Native education advocates have always known-gaps persist that impact the success of our students. However, it only provides one chapter of a larger story. When looking at reports that assess the innovative solutions tribes have started to implement:  culture-based education, language immersion programs, community input, and support work, we know tribal communities have the ability to reverse these statistics. NIEA hopes the CRDC report provides an opportunity to begin a national discussion on how to expand these solutions and provide the flexibility and support to make them work.”

Throughout 2016, the ED will continue to release data highlights that relay information about issues that impact student success.

To view the CRDC report, please click here.

Click here to learn more about NIEA.

GAO-16-313, March 10

The Department of the Interior’s (Interior) Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs (Indian Affairs) lacks sound information on safety and health conditions of all Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school facilities. Specifically, GAO found that Indian Affairs’ national information on safety and health deficiencies at schools is not complete and accurate because of key weaknesses in its inspection program, which prevented GAO from conducting a broader analysis of schools’ safety and health conditions. Indian Affairs’ policy requires its regional safety inspectors to conduct inspections of all BIE schools annually to identify facility deficiencies that may pose a threat to the safety and health of students and staff. However, GAO found that 69 out of 180 BIE school locations were not inspected in fiscal year 2015, an increase from 55 locations in fiscal year 2012. Agency officials told GAO that vacancies among regional staff contributed to this trend. As a result, Indian Affairs lacks complete information on the frequency and severity of health and safety deficiencies at BIE schools nationwide and cannot be certain all school facilities are currently meeting safety requirements.

This monograph explores the ways in which large-scale school reform efforts play out in American Indian/Alaska Native communities and schools, starting from a historical and cultural perspective, and focusing on the translation of research into concrete steps leading to American Indian/Alaska Native student academic success and personal well-being.

For more information, click here.

Here. An excerpt from the Executive Summary:

To improve education for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students, tribal leaders, educators, and Native youth called upon WHIAIANE to collect information on school environment experiences — from teachers, parents, community members, and the students themselves. Tribal leaders and tribal communities wanted members of the initiative to hear about the challenges these students face in gaining high-quality education, with a focus on the quality of their school environments.

To meet this need, WHIAIANE, in collaboration with OCR, worked with tribal leaders and communities to design and execute a series of nationwide listening sessions regarding the school environments of AI/AN students. In October and November 2014, nine gatherings were held in seven states from New York to California to Alaska.

These sessions drew over 1,000 attendees in total and allowed WHIAIANE and OCR to gather information from all stakeholders in AI/AN education. WHIAIANE acted as a listener, allowing students and others to speak openly about their school environments.

“You just have to be you, and you just have to be real. The only way to change things is to hear from real people,” said Valerie Davidson, trustee of the First Alaskans Institute, who served as the moderator for the listening session in Anchorage, Alaska. WHIAIANE imparted similar instructions at each session in an effort to encourage a safe environment for participants to share their stories.

Throughout the sessions, the initiative collected information about the challenges related to school climate, including bullying, student discipline, potentially harmful Native imagery and symbolism, and the implications of all of these school climate issues. With regard to Native school mascots and symbols, the initiative is aware that some people strongly favor retaining their school mascots. During the listening sessions, however, initiative staff members did not hear this viewpoint; thus it is not reflected in this report.

WHIAIANE found feedback from these sessions invaluable in forming its recommended next steps. The initiative further expects that information from these sessions will guide its future work and goals — to address the unique and culturally related academic needs of AI/AN students and to ensure that they receive an excellent education.