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Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives
5: Social and Educational Environments

Indicator 5.1: Parental Education
Indicator 5.2: Language
Indicator 5.3: Learning Opportunities at Home
Indicator 5.4: Principal and Teacher Perceptions

This section examines the social and educational environments for learning. It begins with the contributions made by parents and others to support the education of their children. The resources and support that children receive outside of school from parents and others complement, reinforce, and add to their school experiences. This section includes indicators about parental educational attainment, language spoken at home, and literacy material available at home. This section also includes an indicator that compares goals of school principals and problem issues perceived by teachers in Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) schools with those in other public schools.

At least four risk factors are associated with children’s future academic and socioeconomic outcomes: living in a single-parent family, living in a family on welfare or receiving food stamps, having a mother who has less than a high school education, and having parents whose primary language is a language other than English. The early reading and mathematics skills of children with at least one of these risk factors tend to lag behind those of children with no risk factors. Furthermore, these risk factors are considerably more common among children from racial/ethnic minorities than among children from White families (U.S. Department of Education 2001). As outlined in Chapter 1, American Indian/Alaska Native children are more likely to live in a single-parent family or in poverty than White children. The other risk factors—a mother who has less than a high school education and parents whose primary language is a language other than English—will be discussed in this chapter.