Education | National

Data shows disparities in education of Native American children





American Indian and Alaska Native students are more likely to be disciplined, less likely to be prepared for college and more likely to attend schools with inexperienced teachers, according to a comprehensive study released by the Department of Education today.

The department surveyed all 97,000 of the nation's public schools and its 16,500 school districts for the first time since 2000. The data showed that Native American students are treated differently than their counterparts.

"This data collection shines a clear, unbiased light on places that are delivering on the promise of an equal education for every child and places where the largest gaps remain. In all, it is clear that the United States has a great distance to go to meet our goal of providing opportunities for every student to succeed," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a press release.

"This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students, but actually begin during preschool," added Attorney General Eric Holder, the head of the Department of Justice.

American Indian and Alaska Native students make up just 1 percent of the public school population. But they represent 2 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 3 percent of expulsions, according to the data.

Native American girls in particular are singled out for punishment at high rates. Seven percent of American Indian and Alaska Native girls are suspended, second only to African-American girls (12 percent), and far higher than the rate for all girls (2 percent).

The disparate treatment starts early for Native students, according to the data. American Indian and Alaska Native kindergarten students are held back a year at nearly twice the rate of White kindergarten students.

It continues through graduation. Fewer than half of Native American high school students have access to the full range of math and science courses that would prepare them for college, according to the data.

Complete data from the study can be found at http://ocrdata.ed.gov.

Get the Story:
School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines (The New York Times 3/21)
Black preschoolers more likely to face suspension (AP 3/21)

Data Snapshots:
School Discipline | Early Childhood Education | College and Career Readiness | Teacher Equity