Education | Opinion

Heather Shotton: A state of emergency for Indian education





"The recent release of Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate data from the U.S. Department of Education was certainly shocking to the nation. But for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities, the data just confirms that education for our Native students is in a state of emergency.

In nine states -- Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington -- the graduation rates for American Indian and Alaska Native students in 2010-2011 are lower than 60 percent. And just 61 percent of Native students served by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education graduate from high school. Meanwhile in three states, one out of every two Native Hawaiian students graduates on time.

The achievement gap between Native and Caucasian students remains as wide as ever. Only three states -- Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee -- have graduation rates for American Indian students equal or greater to that of white peers. More typical is Minnesota, where the graduation rate for Native high school students is half that of the 84 percent rate for their white school mates.

The problems for Native students begin long before they reach high school. The percentage of American Indian and Alaska Native fourth-graders scoring Below Basic on the National Assessment of Educational Progress increased by two points between 2005 and 2011 -- even as the percentage of fourth-graders struggling in math declined by five points in that same period."

Get the Story:
Heather Shotton: A State of Emergency for American Indian and Native Students (The Huffington Post 12/12)