The 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 4: Summarize Snapshot Findings


Guideline: Summarizing the data collection tasks accomplished under Activity 1 will give a measurement of a school's performance as it relates to the school's native students. Educators should focus on:
  • assessing native student academic achievement results with that of other student populations within the school;
  • assessing how the curriculum and instructional content and methods support the academic needs of the native students;
  • assessing the professional development needs of the staff regarding American Indian education; and
  • identifying the school staff's awareness level about the local American Indian tribe(s).

Analyzing Program Needs and Setting Goals

This tool is useful for recording the results of data collection with the goal of identifying the school's strengths and needs, and proposing the core goals. It is suggested that a different analysis sheet be completed for each focus area studied.

Alternate format: PDF


Buried Treasure: Developing a Management Guide From Mountains of School Data

This document, Buried Treasure: Developing a Management Guide From Mountains of School Data, uses a story form to illustrate the use of a set of key indicators as a management guide for a fictional school board and superintendent. The story is provided as an illustrative example of using school data. The story is the result of work on how to structure and organize a group of key performance indicators as a management guide for local educators. It was developed by The Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs under a grant from the Wallace Foundation.

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