Magazine article District Administration

American Indian Educators Help Drive Graduation Gains

Magazine article District Administration

American Indian Educators Help Drive Graduation Gains

Article excerpt

American Indian students consistently trail all other minority groups on standardized tests. But this population had the largest reported graduation rate gain of any demographic between 2010-11 and 2012-13, rising from 65 percent to nearly 70 percent in two years. The jump is perhaps due in part to greater numbers of native teachers and administrators returning to reservation districts, some experts say.

Some 23 states have high populations of American Indian students, and reservations see high turnover rates of teachers and administrators, says Charles Roessel, director of the Bureau of Indian Education, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. "It's hard to find a good principal anywhere--add in these other issues in Indian Country, such as lack of housing, salary and socioeconomics, it makes it even more challenging," Roessel says.

Understanding the community

But American Indian teachers and administrators tend to train and come back to their communities to work more than any other definable population of new educators, says Joyce Silverthorne, director of the Office of Indian Education, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

"For our very small rural communities, it's challenging for a new teacher or administrator to come into an area that is both isolated and interconnected," Silverthorne says. "With our Native administrators and teachers, they understand the community, the other activities outside of school, and have that connection that is hard to train someone to build. …

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