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About the Survey


The National Indian Education (NIES) survey explores the educational experiences of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students participating in the NAEP assessments. Throughout the survey, questions were included to examine the extent to which AI/AN students were exposed to native language and culture in their everyday lives and at school. The survey was given to

  • grade 4 and grade 8 students,
  • reading/language arts and mathematics teachers of the participating students at each grade level, and
  • administrators of the schools from which the students were selected.

The NIES Technical Review Panel (TRP), whose members included American Indian and Alaska Native educators and researchers from across the country, oversaw the development of the questionnaires, which included multiple-choice questions and a space at the end for respondents to write in comments. 

Although questionnaire results are available from 2005 and 2007, results from prior years are not directly comparable to 2009 and 2011 because the wording of many questions has changed.

About 10,200 AI/AN students from approximately 1,900 schools at grade 4 and about 10,300 AI/AN students from approximately 2,000 schools at grade 8 participated in the 2011 NIES survey. Also responding to the survey were about 3,000 teachers and 1,900 school administrators at grade 4 and about 4,600 teachers and 2,000 school administrators at grade 8.

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How Results Are Reported

The survey report presents findings from the three types of NIES questionnaires:

  • The student questionnaires asked AI/AN students about themselves, their families and communities, and their classrooms and schools.
  • The teacher questionnaires asked 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.
  • School administrators responded to questions about how schools respond to the distinctive needs of their AI/AN students. The questions asked 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 communities, and community involvement in school activities.

The report compares the results for AI/AN students attending high density schools (those in which at least 25 percent of the students are AI/AN), those for students attending low density schools (those in which less than 25 percent of the students are AI/AN), and those for AI/AN students attending Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools.

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Survey Sample

The NIES survey sample was designed to produce information representative of the target population of all fourth- and eighth-grade AI/AN students in the United States in different types of schools—public, Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), Department of Defense, and private. The sample selection for NIES took place in conjunction with the sampling activities for the 2011 NAEP assessments at grades 4 and 8.

To maximize student sample sizes, all fourth- and eighth-grade AI/AN students in the sampled schools were selected for participation in the NIES survey. This means that, in addition to the fourth- and eighth-grade AI/AN students who were assessed in reading or mathematics and whose results are reported in the NIES performance report, fourth- and eighth-grade AI/AN students in the sampled schools who participated in the NAEP science assessment were also selected to participate in the NIES survey. Including the students assessed in science increased the NIES survey sample by roughly 2,600 AI/AN eighth-graders without having to sample additional schools. Nonetheless, the NIES questionnaires were designed to collect information about AI/AN students’ experiences in reading/language arts and mathematics, not science. Therefore, all students participating in the NIES survey completed the same questionnaire regardless of the NAEP subject area in which they were assessed. Furthermore, questionnaires were administered to participating students’ reading/language arts and mathematics teachers to collect information specific to instructional practices in those subject areas. There was no separate questionnaire administered to science teachers.

The NIES survey sample, which was drawn from the subsample of schools with AI/AN students, included about 10,200 AI/AN students at approximately 1,900 schools at grade 4, and 10,300 AI/AN students at 2,000 schools at grade 8 located throughout the United States. At grades 4 and 8, the sample consisted of 95 percent public and Department of Defense schools, 4 to 5 percent BIE schools, and 1 percent private schools. From this sample, the questionnaires were completed by about 12,300 grade 4 students from 2,300 schools, and 10,400 grade 8 students from 1,900 schools. Also responding to the survey were about 3,800 grade 4 teachers, 4,600 grade 8 teachers, 2,300 grade 4 school administrators, and 1,900 grade 8 school administrators associated with these students. Some school administrators responded for both grade 4 and grade 8.

The NIES survey was designed to obtain a sample that was not only representative of all U.S. AI/AN students at grades 4 and 8, but would also allow comparisons between AI/AN students attending BIE schools and high density and low density schools, where density is defined as the proportion of AI/AN students enrolled. The sample included 300 high density public schools for fourth grade, 300 high density public schools for eighth grade, 2,000 low density public schools for fourth grade, and 1,700 low density public schools for eighth grade. As in 2009, the 2011 sample design allows the NIES survey data to be linked to the achievement data collected using the NAEP Data Explorer.

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Data Collection

NIES representatives (National Center for Education Statistics data collection contractor staff) visited the schools in January and February of 2011 to administer the NIES survey questionnaires. Students completed the questionnaires proctored by the study representatives. The questions were read out loud to all students at grades 4 and 8 who needed assistance. In addition, the study representatives were available to answer any questions that students had as they worked on the questionnaires.

For both NIES and NAEP, teachers and school administrators were asked to complete the questionnaires on their own, either prior to or during the visit from the study representative.

The results gathered from the survey provide a snapshot of the cultural and educational experiences of AI/AN students.

Explore the 2011 NIES survey

Find out about 2011 survey results.

Download a copy of the National Indian Education Study 2011.

Last updated 10 October 2012 (JM)