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Status and Trends in the Education of American Indians and Alaska Natives: 2008

NCES 2008-084
September 2008

Educational and Social Environments

Indicator 5.1: Learning Opportunities at Home
Indicator 5.2: Computer Use at Home
Indicator 5.3: Parental Education
Indicator 5.4: Language and Ceremonies
Indicator 5.5: Traditions and Culture in School
Indicator 5.6: Principal Perceptions of School Climate
Indicator 5.7: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Drug Use
Indicator 5.8: Violence on School Grounds

The indicators in this section examine the educational and social 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 children's school experiences. This section includes indicators about reading material available at home and access to computers for public school students, parental educational attainment, language spoken at home, and exposure to and participation in traditional American Indian/Alaska Native ceremonies.

At least four risk factors are associated with children's future academic and socioeconomic outcomes: living in a single-parent family, living in poverty, 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. 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, more American Indian/ Alaska Native children than White children live in a single-parent family or in poverty. The prevalence of 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.

This section also includes indicators that examine the social environment of American Indian/Alaska Native and other students. A few of these indicators examines various measures of school climate in schools that serve a higher percentage of American Indian/ Alaska Native students relative to others1 from the perspective of teachers and principals. Additional indicators provide snapshots of at-risk behavior, such as students' exposure to drugs and violence.


1 In the text, this is referred to as school density. School density indicates the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled.