American Indian Education KnowledgeBase

The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to serve American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other schools.

Element 1: Foundations and Current Status of American Indian Education

Purpose: To ensure educators working with American Indian students are aware of past efforts at improving the academic achievement of these students, the limited success of these efforts, and current federally funded Indian education programs

Educators will:

  1. Understand past efforts to assimilate Indians through English-only assimilationist schooling and the opposition Indians may show to efforts at forced assimilation.
  2. Know the lasting effects of the Indian New Deal of the 1930s on American Indian education.
  3. Understand the effects of the Indian Self-Determination and Civil Rights movements on American Indian education.
  4. Understand the relationship between Indian tribes, states, and the federal government's Bureau of Indian Education.

Activity 1: Understand the History of American Indian Education

Activity 2: Understand the Current Status of American Indian Education

Element 2: American Indian Cultures

Purpose: Educators will understand the great cultural diversity among American Indians, as well as some of their commonalities. Educators will understand:
  1. What makes someone an American Indian, and what is a tribe today?
  2. What is an extended family?
  3. What is the significance of traditional American Indian values, such as humility, interconnectedness, and reciprocity?
  4. What should all Americans know about American Indians?

Activity 1: Be Aware of Tribal and Family Structures

Activity 2: Understand American Indian Traditional Tribal Values

Task 1: Get Organized for Data Collection


Guideline: School and community profiles are derived through the collection and aggregation of data into information. Misdirected data collection efforts can waste time and lead to frustration. It is best to prepare and focus before collecting data. The resources provided offer basic information for organizing data collection.

Using Data

Using data effectively involves understanding how to use it and being aware of the challenges that entails. The lists offered from Getting Excited About Data (2nd ed): Combining People, Passion and Proof to Maximize Student Achievement highlight how high performing schools use data as well as listing challenges and impediments faced.

Stop-Start-Continue Worksheet

This activity adapted from "A How To Guide For School Business Partnerships" is designed to help decision makers define what is and is not working within a project and what changes should be made to the plan.

Conducting a Comprehensive Needs Assessment

This tool from the U.S. Department of Education's An Idea Book for Planning is useful for managing the data collected during the needs assessment. It consists of two parts: Data Sources Matrix and Data Collection and Analysis Plan.

"The Data Sources Matrix helps organize needs assessment data collection by identifying information sources and methods of data collection. In the matrix, fill specific sources of information you already have on hand from the school profile (e.g., student achievement data, results from a parent survey with results that are pertinent to the planning effort) so you do not duplicate efforts. Then, list any additional information the team decides to collect. Examine each focus area to make sure that there are data describing the status of major aspects of the priority focus areas."

"The Data Collection and Analysis Plan prioritizes the "focus areas" for which data will be collected and it lays out the data collection and analysis plans. First, define the team's key questions, the data collection methods (i.e., surveys, interviews, focus groups, shadowing, etc.), instruments to be used by analysis subcommittee members, and summarize the plans for analysis. List two to three "focus areas" the team plans to study in order of highest (#1) to lowest priority for data gathering. Respond to the questions for each focus area."

Implementing Schoolwide Programs - Presentation

Data Analysis

The Maryland Department of Education, as part of its School Improvement in Maryland website, offers guidance on analyzing classroom data. Though oriented toward Maryland educators, the content may be useful to educators in other states.

Element 3: Understanding Your School and Community

Purpose: Assessing American Indian students' academic performance and working with local tribes and other Indian organizations are necessary to develop culturally responsive teaching methods. Educators should:
  • Examine current American Indian student test scores, attendance rates, and dropout rates;
  • Work with tribes and community organizations; and
  • Work with national American Indian organizations and the National Indian Education Association.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of Your School and Community

Activity 2: Work With and Involve Community and Parents

Element 4: Use Culturally Responsive Teaching Methodologies

Purpose: Some research suggests one reason for the achievement gap faced by American Indian students is cultural conflicts between American Indian homes and schools. Accordingly, culturally responsive teaching methodologies should address:
  • American Indian learning styles;
  • Indianizing curriculum;
  • Ethnomathematics and ethnoscience;
  • American Indian charter and magnet schools; and
  • Language revitalization.

Activity 1: Helping American Indian Children to Learn

Activity 2: Integrate American Indian History and Culture into School Curriculum

Activity 3: The Role of American Indian Charter and Magnet Schools

Activity 4: Teaching Indigenous Languages