Released two days ago, the 2011 National Indian Education Study reveals that American Indian and Native Alaskan students are not making much headway in closing the achievement gap with their non-Native American peers. Looking at NAEP data, researchers found several issues:
For reading, the study found Native American 4th graders score 202 scale-score points versus 221 on the reading exam. Native American 8th graders scored a national average of 252 versus 265 for non- Native American students on the reading exam. Considering that roughly every ten points represents a grade level, this means that on average, Native American 4th graders are two grade levels behind other students. In 8th grade, they are behind one grade level.
In math, the gap between Native American students and non- Native American students has grown substantially. Between 2005 and 2011, the gap for 4th graders increased from 12 to 16 points on average. For 8th graders, it went up from 15 to 19 points.
The study points to poverty and rural schools with little resources as possible drivers for low performance.
However, it’s not all bad news. In Minnesota, Native American students outperformed the nation in 4th grade math and 8th grade reading. Native American 4th graders in Oregon and North Dakota outperformed their peers in reading. 8th grade Native American students in Oregon and Montana also outperformed the nation in reading. In Oklahoma, Native American students in both grades outperformed the nation in math and reading.
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