Author: Rebecca Moran and Bobby D. Rampey
This report presents information about the educational, home, and community experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) fourth- and eighth-grade students that was collected during the National Indian Education Study (NIES) of 2007. AI/AN students represent about 1 percent of the student population in the United States. Approximately 10,000 AI/AN students in 1,700 schools at grade 4 and 11,000 AI/AN students from 1,800 schools at grade 8 participated in the study. Surveys were completed by students, their teachers, and their school administrators.
The three major areas of findings that are described in this report include: characteristics of AI/AN students, characteristics of their teachers and schools, and the integration of native language and culture in their homes and schools. Some of the major findings are highlighted below.
Higher percentages of AI/AN fourth-graders (56 percent) and eighth-graders (54 percent) attended schools in the South Central and Mountain regions than in other regions. In the Mountain region, higher percentages of AI/AN students (40 to 46 percent across grades) attended schools in which at least 25 percent of the students were AI/AN (“high density” schools) than attended low density schools (19 percent).
A higher percentage of AI/AN students (about 58 percent) were eligible for free school lunch compared to their non-AI/AN peers (about 34 percent). A lower percentage of AI/AN students (about 75 percent) than non-AI/AN students (about 89 percent) said they had access to a computer in their homes.
A higher percentage of AI/AN students in high density schools (about 20 percent) than in low density schools (about 10 percent) reported that a language other than English was spoken in their homes all or most of the time. A higher percentage of students in Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools (35 percent) than in public schools (about 12 percent) reported the same.
While nearly 80 percent of AI/AN students overall were taught by teachers who identified themselves as White, a higher percentage of AI/AN students in BIE schools (about 40 to 60 percent across grades) than in public schools (5 to 9 percent) were taught by AI/AN teachers. Also, a higher percentage of students in BIE schools (20 to 29 percent) than in public schools (about 3 percent) were taught by teachers who said they were fluent native language speakers.
A higher percentage of AI/AN students in high density schools (55 to 64 percent across grades) than in low density schools (12 to 21 percent) attended schools where more than three-quarters of the student body was eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch. Higher percentages of students in high density schools (15 to 35 percent) than in low density schools (2 to 12 percent) had administrators who indicated serious problems with student absenteeism, student tardiness, lack of family involvement, and low expectations.
Exposure to native language at home most of the time occurred more frequently for students in BIE schools (about 41 percent) than for students in public schools (about 17 percent). A higher percentage of eighth-graders in high density schools (44 percent) than in low density schools (27 percent) said that they participated in AI/AN ceremonies or gatherings several times a year.
Although nearly 90 percent of AI/AN students overall had teachers who provided instruction entirely in English, a higher percentage of students in high density schools (16 to 20 percent) than in low density schools (about 2 percent) had teachers who reported occasional use of AI/AN language in their instruction. A higher percentage of students in BIE schools (72 to 97 percent) than in public schools (26 to 63 percent) had school administrators who said that students received instruction on a variety of topics related to their native cultures.
NCES 2008-458 Ordering information
Moran, R., and Rampey, B., (2008). National Indian Education Study - Part II: The Educational Experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native Students in Grades 4 and 8 (NCES 2008–458). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.
For more information, see The National Indian Education Study in the Special Studies section of this website.