While many NCES reports and products compare data between racial and ethnic groups, it is important to remember that outcomes can also differ substantially for individuals within these individual groups. The National Indian Education Study (NIES), part of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), is one way that NCES tries to look at the diverse experiences of a particular group of students.
One of the primary goals of NIES is to collect and report data for subgroups of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students. NCES released an initial report on the results of the 2015 NIES in early 2017 that focused on differences across three mutually exclusive school types:
- Low density public schools (where less than 25 percent of all students in the school were AI/AN)
- High density public schools (where 25 percent or more of all the students in the school were AI/AN)
- Bureau of Indian Education schools
A recently released follow up report, National Indian Education Study 2015: A Closer Look builds on the findings of the first report and focuses, in part, on NAEP 2015 assessment differences within the AI/AN student group. Although NIES provides a large enough sample size to facilitate comparisons among groups of AI/AN students, it is important to note that AI/AN students are diverse linguistically, culturally, geographically, economically, and in many other ways. By focusing specifically on this student group, NCES is able to highlight the educational experiences and related academic outcomes of these students.
National Indian Education Study 2015: A Closer Look reveals some significant differences when comparing AI/AN students performing at or above the 75th percentile (referred to in the report as “higher-performing”) with those performing below the 25th percentile (referred to as “lower-performing”). For example, higher-performing students in both mathematics and reading and in both grades 4 and 8 were more likely to have:
- A school library, media center, or resource center that contained materials about AI/AN people,
- More than 25 books in their homes, and
- A computer at home that they use.
A Technical Review Panel of American Indian and Alaska Native educators and researchers from across the country provides guidance on the study. Their expertise helps to ensure that this report will provide valuable, and much needed information to AI/AN educational stakeholders. In addition, whereas most other NCES reports are now electronic-only, hard copies of the NIES report are also produced in support of making them available for those AI/AN educational stakeholders who may not have easy access to the internet. This report is also unique in that the Technical Review Panel issued a statement highlighting the importance of this study and providing a brief overview of the overall context of AI/AN education, which may be helpful to readers as they read the report. This statement is available online at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/resources.html.
By Jamie Deaton