Increasing American Indian and Alaska Native High School Graduation Rates: Strategies and Recommendations for Local Education Agency Leaders in the Western States
Despite rich histories and cultural heritages that value education, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth have the lowest graduation rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. Each year in the Western states approximately one third of all AI/AN youth do not graduate from high school.
Most programs and initiatives designed to stem the tide of students leaving formal educational pathways fail to address specific Native student needs, and studies on school and district policy effectiveness are not conducted specifically with Native schools and communities.
AI/AN students face multifaceted and complex challenges to graduation, including economic and cultural inequities resulting from systemic racism and discrimination. This brief highlights key contributing factors to low graduation rates and offers recommendations for local education agency leaders to implement.
Key contributing factors to low graduation rates include
- cultural misunderstandings about the practice of temporarily “stopping out,” leading to a disconnect between student and educator when the student returns to school, which can lead to permanent dropout;
- early literacy challenges; and
- lack of systematic approaches by districts to address the specific needs of AI/AN students and their families.
The brief offers practical strategies and recommendations, including (a) developing and implementing culturally relevant education programs; (b) increasing parent and community involvement; (b) providing academic and emotional support with mentoring, counseling, and after-school programs; (c) implementing institutional transition programs; (d) conducting regular assessments of student progress that identify areas for improvement and inform interventions; and (e) nurturing strategic partnerships with tribal governments and organizations to deepen understanding of resources and needs.
Check out the six-part webinar series “Equity-Driven Strategies for Addressing Chronic Absence” hosted by the Western Educational Equity Assistance Center (WEEAC) at WestEd.
Product InformationCopyright: 2023
Publisher: Western Educational Equity Assistance Center at WestEd
Working Respectfully with Indigenous Communities Around Data and Evidence: A Resource for State Education Agencies
This resource is intended to support state education agency (SEA) staff members as they build partnerships with tribal leaders to improve education outcomes for Native students.
Learn how the Bureau of Indian Education, with assistance from the Region 13 Comprehensive Center, was able to develop and implement a system of support for BIE school leaders to effectively develop talent, build school community, and transform instruction.
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