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​​​​National Indian Education StudyAbout 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, 2011, 2015, and 2019 because the wording of many questions has changed.

About 7,000 AI/AN students from approximately 1,400 schools at grade 4 and about 6,300 AI/AN students from approximately 1,300 schools at grade 8 participated in the 2019 NIES survey. Also responding to the survey were about 2,200 teachers and 1,300 school administrators at grade 4 and about 2,700 teachers and 1,200 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 2019 report describes the results for AI/AN students attending high density public schools (those in which at least 25 percent of the students are AI/AN), for AI/AN students attending low density public schools (those in which less than 25 percent of the students are AI/AN), and 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 2019 NAEP assessments at grades 4 and 8.

To maximize student sample sizes and to support the reporting of results, all fourth- and eighth-grade AI/AN students in the sampled schools were selected for participation in the NIES survey. All students participating in the NIES survey completed the same grade-specific questionnaire regardless of the NAEP subject area in which they were assessed. Furthermore, questionnaires were administered to participating students' mathematics and reading/language arts teachers to collect information specific to instructional practices in those subject areas.

To obtain large enough samples to report reliable results for AI/AN students, schools with higher proportions of AI/AN students in selected states were oversampled. That is, the AI/AN students were selected for the NAEP assessments at a higher rate than they would be otherwise. All Bureau of Education (BIE) schools having grades 4 and/or 8 were also selected.

In 2019, NAEP was able to report NIES results for 15 states, with Nebraska being added in 2019. While samples of AI/AN students were large enough to report performance results for students in 15 states in 2019, in a few cases, not all states had large enough samples to report results for both reading and mathematics at grades 4 and 8.

Visit the Sample Design and Weighting page for more detailed information.

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Data Collection

NIES representatives (National Center for Education Statistics data collection contractor staff) visited the schools in January through March of 2019 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.

Download a copy of the National Indian Education Study 2019.

Last updated 20 October 2023 (DS)