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National Indian Education Study 2009 - Part II:
The Educational Experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native Students in Grades 4 and 8

June 2010

Authors: Nancy Mead, Wendy Grigg, Rebecca Moran, and Ming Kuang

PDF Download National Indian Education Study 2009 - Part II: The Educational Experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native Students in Grades 4 and 8 PDF for viewing and printing (4552K PDF)


Image of the cover of the 2009 National Indian Education Study: Part II report.

Executive Summary

Fourth- and eighth-grade American Indian/Alaska Native students provide information about themselves, their families and communities, and their school experiences

Teachers provide information about educational practices to promote the academic achievement of American Indian/Alaska Native students

School administrators report on school environment for American Indian/Alaska Native students

The National Indian Education Study (NIES) is administered as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which was expanded to allow more in-depth reporting on the achievement and experiences of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in grades 4 and 8.

The study fulfills a mandate of Executive Order 13336 issued in 2004 to assist AI/AN students in meeting challenging academic standards in a manner consistent with tribal traditions, languages, and cultures. In addition, NIES reports present findings that are of interest to educators, policymakers, and researchers involved in the education of AI/AN students.

NIES was first conducted in 2005 and then again in 2007. This report, the second in a two-part series based on the 2009 NIES survey, examined the educational experiences of AI/AN students. The results included in this report describe AI/AN students, their teachers and schools, and the integration of native culture and language in their education.

In the report, overall results reported for the nation include AI/AN students attending public, private, and other types of schools. Results are also reported for three mutually exclusive categories based on the type of school and proportion of AI/AN students: low density public schools where less than 25 percent of the student body is AI/AN; high density public schools where 25 percent or more of the students are AI/AN; and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools that serve AI/AN students almost exclusively. All comparisons are based on statistical tests of significance (with appropriate adjustments for multiple comparisons), and only differences that have been determined to be statistically significant are discussed in the report.

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Fourth- and eighth-grade American Indian/Alaska Native students provide information about themselves, their families and communities, and their school experiences

About 12,000 AI/AN fourth-graders and 10,000 AI/AN eighth-graders participated in the 2009 NIES survey. Their responses provide information about students’ exposure to AI/AN culture and language, sources of help with schoolwork, and plans for their future.

AI/AN students report varying levels of knowledge and exposure to AI/AN culture

  • Fifty-five percent of fourth-graders and 66 percent of eighth-graders reported having some or a lot of knowledge about their AI/AN history.
  • Higher percentages of AI/AN students in BIE schools (51 percent at grade 4 and 44 percent at grade 8) than in high or low density public schools (44 and 39 percent, respectively, at grade 4, and 26 and 17 percent at grade 8) reported going on school-sponsored trips to museums or other places to learn about AI/AN people.

AI/AN students find support at home as well as at school

  • Seventy-four percent of fourth-graders and 54 percent of eighth-graders reported getting help with their schoolwork from someone in their family once or twice a week or more.
  • Higher percentages of AI/AN students attending BIE schools (66 percent at grade 4 and 64 percent at grade 8) than high or low density public schools (63 and 60 percent, respectively, at grade 4, and 55 and 53 percent at grade 8) reported getting help with their schoolwork from someone at school at least weekly.

More than one-half of AI/AN students attending BIE schools and public schools plan to go to college

  • Fifty-five percent of eighth-grade AI/AN students attending BIE schools and 57 percent attending high and low density public schools reported that they planned to go to college full time in their first year after high school.

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Teachers provide information about educational practices to promote the academic achievement of American Indian/Alaska Native students

About 3,800 fourth-grade teachers and 4,600 eighth-grade teachers responded to questions about the instruction of AI/AN students in their schools. Their responses provide information about the integration of native culture and language into instruction, the use of content standards and assessments to promote academic achievement, and the use of different types of resources.

Students in BIE schools are more likely to be exposed to cultural themes and activities as part of the curricula

  • Higher percentages of AI/AN students attending BIE schools (81 percent at grade 4 and 92 percent at grade 8) than those attending high or low density public schools (54 and 31 percent, respectively, at grade 4, and 47 and 16 percent at grade 8) had teachers who reported integrating AI/AN culture and history into the reading/language arts curriculum at least once a month or more.

Most AI/AN students receive instruction entirely in English

  • At least 87 percent of AI/AN students at grades 4 and 8 received instruction in core subjects (including reading/language arts and mathematics) entirely in English.
  • Smaller percentages of AI/AN students in BIE schools (46 percent at grade 4 and 49 percent at grade 8) than in high or low density schools (80 and 97 percent, respectively, at grade 4, and 82 and 96 percent at grade 8) had teachers who provided instruction entirely in English.

Teachers of AI/AN students rely on state content standards in planning lessons

  • At least 95 percent of AI/AN fourth- and eighth-graders had teachers who reported relying on state content standards to some extent or a lot in planning reading/language arts or mathematics lessons for their students.
  • The percentages of AI/AN students whose teachers reported relying on state standards to some extent or a lot when planning lessons in reading/language arts were not significantly different among those attending BIE schools (96 percent at grade 4 and 97 percent at grade 8), high density public schools (97 percent at both grades), or low density public schools (96 percent at grade 4 and 97 percent at grade 8).

Teachers of AI/AN students use a variety of techniques to assess students’ progress

  • Eleven percent of AI/AN fourth-graders and 14 percent of eighth-graders were taught by teachers who used assessments developed by AI/AN organizations to a small extent or more.
  • Higher percentages of AI/AN students in BIE schools (14 percent at grade 4 and 11 percent at grade 8) than in high or low density public schools (4 and 1 percent, respectively, at grade 4, and 3 and 3 percent at grade 8) had teachers who used assessments developed by AI/AN organizations.

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School administrators report on school environment for American Indian/Alaska Native students

About 2,300 fourth-grade school administrators and 1,900 eighth-grade administrators responded to questions about school factors related to the education of AI/AN students. Their responses provide information about the presence of AI/AN teachers and staff in the school, areas of instruction in AI/AN culture, how schools connect with AI/AN families, and community involvement in school activities.

Highest proportion of AI/AN teachers is in BIE schools

  • Among AI/AN students in BIE schools, 40 percent of fourth-graders and 42 percent of eighth-graders attended schools where more than three-quarters of the teachers were AI/AN.
  • About one-third of AI/AN students in grades 4 and 8 attended schools with no AI/AN teachers.

Students are exposed to AI/AN culture in various ways

  • Eighty-four percent of AI/AN fourth-graders and 75 percent of eighth-graders attended schools that offered instruction in AI/AN traditions and customs.
  • Forty-six percent of AI/AN fourth-graders and 45 percent of eighth-graders attended schools where administrators reported providing instruction in AI/AN oral languages.

Schools communicate with AI/AN families in a variety of ways

  • Forty-nine percent of fourth-graders and 57 percent of eighth-graders attended schools where administrators reported providing opportunities for daily communication with parents by telephone.
  • Forty-five percent of fourth-graders and 63 percent of eighth-graders attended schools where opportunities for daily communication were provided through websites or e-mail.
  • The percentages of students who attended schools that communicated with families weekly or daily through websites or e-mail were smaller in BIE schools (34 percent at grade 4 and 37 percent at grade 8) than in high or low density public schools (65 and 67 percent, respectively, at grade 4, and 69 and 85 percent at grade 8).

Involvement of the AI/AN community in the school is more common in schools with high proportions of AI/AN students

  • Twenty-six percent of AI/AN fourth-graders and 33 percent of eighth-graders attended schools where members of the AI/AN community visited to discuss education issues with students and staff three or more times a year.
  • The percentages of students attending schools where members of the AI/AN community visited to discuss education issues were higher for students in BIE schools (92 percent at grade 4 and 87 percent at grade 8) and high density public schools (73 percent at grade 4 and 82 percent at grade 8) than for those in low density schools (43 percent at grade 4 and 42 percent at grade 8).

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For More Information

Complete copies of the 2009 NIES student, teacher, and school questionnaires are available online at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nies/questionnaire.asp. Additional results from the survey are available in the NAEP Data Explorer at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata.


Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

PDF National Indian Education Study 2009 - Part II: The Educational Experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native Students in Grades 4 and 8 report PDF (4552K PDF)

NCES 2010-463  Ordering information


Suggested Citation
Mead, N., Grigg, W., Moran, R., and Kuang, M. (2010). National Indian Education Study 2009 - Part II: The Educational Experiences of American Indian and Alaska Native Students in Grades 4 and 8 (NCES 2010–463). National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

For more information, see National Indian Education Study in the Special Studies section of this website.

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Last updated 23 June 2010 (RH)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education