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American Indian Education Knowledgbase

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

The American Indian Education KnowledgeBase is an online resource to aid education professionals in their efforts to improve the education of American Indian students and close the achievement gap American Indian students have faced in public, Bureau of Indian Education, and other schools.

Task 2: Communicate With and Involve Parents

Guideline:  Parental involvement is at the core of building effective, quality school climate in support of improved academic performance for American Indian children. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires tribal consultation; parent-family engagement, community involvement and school collaboration in the education of American Indian children, as well as mandating specific communications from schools to parents and tribes. Educators need to be aware of how they communicate and collaborate with parents of Native children in order to more effectively engage parents in the process of education for their children.



ELL Family Toolkit

The English Learner Family Toolkit was created to help families choose education services that meet their child’s needs. U.S. educators, elementary and secondary school teachers, principals, and other school staff can also share the toolkit as a resource for English learners and their families. The English Learner Family Toolkit consists of six chapters, and each chapter contains five sections—an overview, enrollment, family and student rights, questions to ask schoolstips and resourcesDownload the complete toolkit by using the quick links for the information needed most.

ESSA Parent Outreach Tool Kit

This State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction website provides some parent outreach materials to parents on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including ESSA plans (translated into several languages), an ESSA parents guide, ESSA newsletters and handouts and ESSA videos flyers. If you are looking for something better tailored to your district or school, please Click here and Choose your State via the United States map below.

Parent Guidance Handbook 2003

"This Parent Handbook is provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a tool for all Native American parents of school-aged children as an aid in advocating for their children's education. This manual serves as a template for each tribe and state to adapt to their specific needs, concerns and culture."

Parents' Guide - Deparment of Education

This Parents' landing page from the Department of Education provides parents with support links for Early Childhood Education, Reading Resources, Special Education (Developing Your Child's IEP), Homework Tools and College Aid/Financing.

Working Together: An Education Handbook For Alaskan Native Families

Written with Alaskan Native families as its audience, this resource's content may be useful for other communities, as well.

Working Together: School-Family-Community Partnerships

Developed for New Mexico school communities, "this Toolkit is designed to support the development of school, family and community partnerships, with the ultimate goal of helping all children and youth succeed in school and in life." Its six modules are organized around six types of family and community involvement. Though created with New Mexico communities in mind, this resource's content may be useful with any school community.



A Parents' Guide to ESSA

This guide aims to help parents like you understand the flexibility provided to States and school districts in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a landmark Federal education law. We know that parents are the most important advocates for their children. Because states and school districts have significant flexibility in how they meet the requirements of the law, you have an opportunity to influence how they use that flexibility to best help your child. We hope that this document empowers you with information that will help you advocate for better education for your child and every child in your State and district and help you make the right choices for your family. Betsy DeVos -Secretary of Education

Handbook on Family and Community Engagement

Thirty-six of the best thinkers on family and community engagement were assembled to produce this handbook. The authors tell what they know in plain language, succinctly presented in short chapters with practical suggestions for states, districts and schools. The vignettes in the handbook provide vivid pictures of the real life of parents, teachers and kids.

The Dual Capacity-Building Framework for Family-School Partnerships

The U.S. Department of Education has developed a Family and Community Engagement Framework for families, schools, districts, states and the broader communities to develop partnerships in education. This document describes strategies for building, cultivating and sustaining positive relationships with families. The goal of these partnerships is to to build capacity for student achievement and school improvement.



Parent/Family Involvement Policy

The Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) requires schools receiving Title I funds to develop policies addressing their parental involvement program. This document offers guidance and a model policy from the National PTA's National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Program as a resource to assist schools in developing such a policy.

Practical Tips

Helping Your Child

This link is to the U.S. Department of Education's Helping Your Child publication series. As noted at its website, "These booklets feature practical lessons and activities to help their school aged and preschool children master reading, understand the value of homework and develop the skills and values necessary to achieve and grow."


National Parent Teacher Association

As noted at its website, "As the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the nation, National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) provides parents and families with a voice to speak on behalf of every child. The PTA provides parents tools to help their children be successful students." Local parent/teacher organizations may be useful sources of financial and non-financial resources.

School Climate and Discipline

This link to the U.S. Department of Education website provides resources addressing school climate and discipline. As noted on the website, "The guidance package is a resource resulting from a collaborative project—the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI)—between ED and DOJ. The SSDI, launched in 2011, addresses the school-to-prison pipeline and the disciplinary policies and practices that can push students out of school and into the justice system. The initiative aims to support instead school discipline practices that foster safe, inclusive and positive learning environments while keeping students in school." 

The Department of Education news releases explains that the resource package consists of four components:

  • the Dear Colleague guidance letter on civil rights and discipline, prepared in conjunction with DOJ, describes how schools can meet their legal obligations under federal law to administer student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color or national origin
  • the Guiding Principles document draws from emerging research and best practices to describe three key principles and related action steps that can help guide state and local efforts to improve school climate and school discipline
  • the Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources indexes the extensive federal technical assistance and other resources related to school discipline and climate available to schools and districts
  • the Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations, an online catalogue of the laws and regulations related to school discipline in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, compares laws across states and jurisdictions

Writing to Linguistically Diverse Audiences

Writing effectively for an audience with a wide variety of backgrounds is difficult. This page provides several resources to help writers craft their message to reach the widest possible audience.



*NEW video* Creating Environments for Indigenous Youth to Live & Succeed

Indigenous youth experience the highest rates of negative instances such as suicide, yet are the fastest growing demographic in Canada. This has been at the heart of the of the work of Tunchai Redvers, co-founder of We Matter, a national non-profit organization committed to Indigenous youth empowerment, hope and life promotion. In this 2017 Tedx talk, Tunchai makes the case that changing this reality and creating environments for Indigenous youth to both live and succeed means centering Indigenous youth voices, honoring Indigenous strengths and challenging toxic norms and beliefs. Tunchai Redvers is an Indigenous queer/two-spirit woman, social justice warrior, poet and wanderer. With Dene and Métis roots, she comes from Treaty 8 territory, born and raised in the Northwest Territories.

Elements of Effective Family-School Partnerships

This webinar provides participants with a framework that identifies the elements of effective family-school partnerships. Participants explored four versions of family-school partnerships and assessed where their school community falls within the framework. The webinar explores various strategies to help schools move from basic levels of partnership to more effective and systemic family-school partnerships that support learning and school improvement.

Partnering with Diverse Community Members

This webinar explores the ways several schools have successfully cultivated and sustained partnerships with diverse families and community members. Our schools and districts throughout the country are experiencing dramatic shifts in demographics, and this diversity brings rich resources, but this can also be a source of misunderstanding and conflict among school staff, families and other community stakeholders. The webinar focuses directly on the topic of diversity and offered tools and guidance to develop rich partnerships with diverse families and community members. The session featured school and district strategies to address and embrace diversity in ways that enable partnerships among home, school and community.

Systemic Family Engagement

The purpose of this webinar is to define and demonstrate in detail what is meant by “systemic” family engagement. The webinar features “promising practice” district initiatives that spans several schools that are linked to student learning and engage community partners.

The Why and What of Family Engagement

The purpose of this webinar was to explore current research-based definitions of family engagement and what we now know about the impact of family engagement on student achievement and whole school reform. The webinar explores  the meaning of "family engagement," the various was families are involved in their children's education and the impact of these various engagements in their children's education.



Native American Student Achievement Linked to Parental Involvement

This 2011 Indian Country Today article explores how Native American student achievement is linked to parental involvement. Native American parents may be able to help improve Native students statistics. The recommendations part of the report points to parental involvement leading to student success. The 2008 "Striving to Achieve: Helping Native American Students Succeed," 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.”

Parent Involvement: NAYA (Native American Youth and Family Center

Parent Involvement is the key for student success. Our Parent Involvement Advocate meets with parents and families regularly to build measurable goals that will lead to greater communication and cooperation at home, as well as overall greater involvement within their children’s schools. The program helps parents to develop skills utilizing the Parents Helping Parents curriculum.

Working with American Indian Students and Families

This report focuses on the disabilities, issues and interventions as challenges found when teaching American Indian students. The majority of American Indian students attend public schools, and they often live with a sense of dissonance because the culture of their school is different than the culture of their home and tribal communities. Educators must understand that the belief system of American Indians differs significantly from the world-view of mainstream U.S. society. For example, living in harmony with nature is a vastly different from the mainstream U.S. concept and belief in individualism, which is taught in public educational systems.

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and are intended for general reference purposes only. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education or the Center, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Some resources on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader. This website archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.