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Results are in

Indian students show progress in math

WASHINGTON - The National Center for Education Statistics has released part one of the 2007 National Indian Education Study, which shows modest gains in mathematics by Native students since 2005 - but also room for improvement in reading.

The study, issued May 14, explores the performance of American Indian and Alaska Native fourth- and eighth-graders on the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress in math and reading. Conducted on behalf of the Department of Education's Office of Indian Education, the study measured a national sample of approximately 10,100 Native students for reading and 10,300 for math.

It is authorized under a 2004 executive order to help American Indian students achieve education standards as set by the No Child Left Behind Act.

''Data use for educational improvement provides districts, schools and educators with better information that can help educate all children,'' Cathie Carothers, director of the Office of Indian Education, said in a statement.

''It is the intent of the National Indian Education Study to provide additional data on Native students from NAEP in a useful form that can help teachers, principals and other educational personnel learn more about their Native students, improve their teaching craft for these students, and ultimately impact their educational outcomes.''

Carothers added that she wants school districts to be able to offer ''focused acts of improvement'' that can better assist school administrators and teachers to make decisions with greater precision and clarity for Indian students.

Indian students were deliberately over-sampled in the study to allow researchers to better analyze their performance as a group. Indian students often make up such a small percentage of the student body in a particular school that their results cannot be assessed in a statistically meaningful way.

The latest research indicates that there was an increase in the percentage of Native fourth-graders performing at or above the proficient level in math, from 21 percent in 2005 to 25 percent in 2007. Still, the average math scores for Native fourth- and eighth-graders showed no significant change since 2005.

In 2007 at both grade levels, Native students attending schools in which less than 25 percent of the total students were Native scored higher in math than their peers attending schools with higher concentrations of Native students. Those attending public schools scored higher than their peers at Bureau of Indian Education schools.

Native students at both grade levels also scored higher on average in math than black students, and scores for higher-performing Native students - those at the 75th and 90th percentiles - were higher than scores for their black peers. Native students tended to score lower than their white and Asian counterparts in math, and the average scores of Indian students were not significantly different from Hispanic students.

Overall, the average reading scores for Native fourth- and eighth-graders showed no

significant change since 2005. Average reading scores for Native students were not significantly different from the scores for black or Hispanic students, but were lower than the scores for white and Asian students.

Native fourth-graders attending city schools scored higher than their black and Hispanic peers, and Native eighth-graders attending rural schools scored lower than their Hispanic peers.

When compared to the scores for all Native students in the nation, average reading scores for Native fourth-graders in Oklahoma and eighth-graders in Oklahoma and Oregon were higher in 2007.

Scores for Native fourth- and eighth-graders in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota were lower than the average scores of all Native students nationwide.

Part two of the study, expected to be released in June, will focus on cultural issues facing Indian children in the education arena.