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Closing the American Indian Opportunity Gap

June 7-8, 2016: Closing the American Indian Opportunity Gap Meeting: Slide Deck

Too often, American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students fail to graduate from high school on time and prepared for success in high-quality careers or colleges. On June 3, 2015, CCSSO convened a discussion with state leaders, federal officials, and the National Indian Education Association to discuss how to improve educational outcomes for American Indian students.

This page describes potential action items that emerged from this discussion and proposes possible mechanisms for realizing this critical national goal and strengthening CCSSO’s equity agenda. They include:

  • CCSSO Advisory Council
    CCSSO will convene an American Indian Education Advisory Council to serve as a clearinghouse for information and coordinate state and federal activities. Participation in the state-led Advisory Council would not require or imply specific commitments from state chiefs, but would allow states to a) identify and adopt best practices from other states; b) support engagement with other national organizations, including those representing tribes; and c) as appropriate, allow for joint engagement with federal policymakers in Congress and the Administration.
  • State-District-Tribal Consultation
    The Advisory Council will focus initially on fostering strong state-district-tribal partnerships through improved consultation practices. States that have been more successful in serving Native youth have developed, implemented, and refined working relationships between tribes and state and local educators through ongoing consultation processes.
  • Federal Resource Identification
    USED will develop and disseminate to states a comprehensive list of federal resources to support American Indian education. As state and local leaders seek to implement programs and strategies to serve Native youth, the federal government should support their work by increasing awareness of the federal trust responsibilities and resources available to help meet federal treaty obligations.
  • Research Review
    State and tribal leaders will benefit from a summary analysis of existing research regarding academic and non-academic programs and strategies that work for Native youth. USED will analyze and provide actionable summaries of existing research.
  • Data Sharing
    Tribal leaders and national organizations representing tribes would benefit from being able to access data held by education agencies regarding Native youth to better coordinate activities between tribes and state education systems. State and local officials must balance student data privacy requirements with a desire for transparency and partnerships with tribes.
  • STEP Program Improvements
    The first round of the federally-funded State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program recently concluded. In 2012, USED made 4 awards to help build tribal capacity to exercise increased authority over federal programs that serve Native youth As we prepare for a second round of STEP grants, CCSSO will work with states, tribal organizations, and USED to evaluate STEP program successes and seek to work with states and tribes to build on the lessons learned during the first round of the program.
  • Charter Schools
    The Advisory Council could identify lessons learned by successful charter schools that serve American Indian students and support, as appropriate, charter schools as a promising mechanism to empower tribes and improve services for Indian students.
  • Innovation in Indian Education
    Tribes and Native youth have not often benefited from cutting-edge instructional practices or effective braiding of resources to support their education. Currently, a proliferation of innovative instructional practices, such as competency-based education and blended learning, are transforming schooling for many students. Innovation through technology in particular holds promise for American Indian students who are geographically isolated and lack access to high-quality, culturally-relevant curriculum. Also, innovative practices in braiding education resources with resources in other areas such as transportation, housing, and healthcare. The Advisory Council will coordinate with states, USED and other federal agencies and seek to identify promising education innovations and explore possibilities for implementing them in schools serving high proportions of Native students.