SIDEBAR: American Indian Schools

Fewer than half of American Indian 12th graders score at or above a basic achievement level in mathematics. (See appendix table 2-7.)[2] American Indians are 1 percent of students attending public schools and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)/tribal schools in the United States. Eight percent of these attend BIA/tribal schools, 36 percent attend public schools with a high (25 percent or more) American Indian enrollment, and 56 percent attend public schools with a low (less than 25 percent) American Indian enrollment (Pavel et al. 1995, p. 10).

Schools with high American Indian enrollment differ from those with low American Indian enrollment in availability of programs and services and in characteristics of teachers. They are more likely to offer compensatory programs and are less likely to offer college preparatory programs. All BIA/tribal schools and 82 percent of public schools with high American Indian enrollment have Chapter 1 programs, which are designed to address the needs of educationally disadvantaged children. (See appendix table 2-19.) By comparison, 66 percent of schools with low American Indian enrollment have Chapter 1 programs. BIA/tribal schools are more likely to offer remedial mathematics (80 percent) than public schools with either high or low American Indian enrollment (61 percent and 60 percent, respectively). College preparatory programs are offered less frequently by BIA/tribal schools (54 percent) and public schools with high American Indian enrollment (55 percent) than by schools with low American Indian enrollment (76 percent). The teachers at BIA/tribal schools and schools with high American Indian enrollment are less likely to be certified, and have fewer years of teaching experience. Both the teachers and the principals in BIA/tribal schools and schools with high American Indian enrollment see poverty, parental alcohol/drug abuse, and lack of parental involvement as serious problems in their schools. (See appendix table 2-20.)


[2] In 1990-1991, the NCES Schools and Staffing Survey conducted an American Indian/Alaskan Native supplement to gather data on the unique characteristics of predominantly American Indian schools.


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