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Editorial: Expecting success for Indian students

"Indian educators, like Keith Erickson of Poplar, have returned with degrees from Montana State University-Billings to become teachers and role models for youngsters in their hometowns. Increasing vocabulary is the goal of several programs in Poplar schools where poverty is rampant and many children start school without the basic language skills they need to learn to read.

Nicole Real Bird Cummins, a bilingual Crow tribal member, uses Crow language to help her kindergarten students learn sounds in English and uses familiar English words to teach her students fluency in Crow. Crow Tribal elders helped teach summer school, sharing tradition and culture with the youngest generation.

A strong emphasis on primary-grade reading skills has raised Lame Deer student test scores and increased parental involvement in the school.

Along with bright spots of progress, schools that serve Montana Indian students struggle with the disadvantages that poverty visits on these children and their families. Thirty-two of the 33 Montana schools that failed to make federally mandated progress for the past three years are on Indian reservations. The other school that failed the No Child Left Behind standard is just outside a reservation and most of its students are Indian children. None of the 23 schools on the Flathead Reservation in Western Montana were on the list for mandatory restructuring, but the majority of schools on each of the other six reservations were listed."

Get the Story:
Gazette Opinion: Closing academic gaps for Montana's Indian students (The Billings Gazette 8/27)

Relevant Links:
Big Horn Teacher Projects -
Montana Indian Education Association -
Montana Office of Public Instruction -

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