Native American Student Achievement Linked to Parental Involvement

The National Indian Education Association stresses parental involvement with Native American students to help them succeed.

“The state of education in our nation’s K-12 schools for Native students is distressing. Native students perform two to three grade levels below their white peers in reading and mathematics. They are 237 percent more likely to drop out of school and 207 percent more likely to be expelled than white students,” begins the executive summary of the 2008 National Caucus of Native American State Legislators report titled Striving to Achieve: Helping Native American Students Succeed.

Parents may be able to help improve those statistics. The recommendations part of the report points to parental involvement leading to student success. The report analyzed 33 Montana schools and found the factor most correlated with student success was the “school’s effort to engage parents, families and communities in the school, outweighing even school leadership, teacher quality and curriculum.”

The reports says schools and communities have to work together because when the community doesn’t see the value of education, students won’t see school as important.

“This goes beyond the scope of being a part of the PTA and sending students off to school,” says Dawn Mackety, National Indian Education Association director of research, data and policy. “Schools in which Native students are doing well have parent groups who volunteer, host family dinners, carpool, present in the classroom, guide educational programming, and recruit and recommend staff to school leaders.”

In June Mackety presented the findings at the Central School Improvement Grant Regional Conference in Denver.

“Parents need to be a stronger part of their children’s learning. This is about learning the ways to be a contributor to their community and not just preparing them for tests,” Mackety said during her presentation. “Our students need that parental encouragement and this is just another way to see them succeed. And who doesn’t want to be a part of that?”