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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 1: Discover how Tribal Operated Schools and Indian Charter Schools are Relational

Guideline: Many American Indians are seeking more control over the schools serving their children, but lack the financial resources to build and operate schools. To get around this challenge, they use federal funding available from the Bureau of Indian Education and states through charter school funding to operate schools with more local control.


A NIEA Sovereignty in Education Handbook (2018)

The National Indian Education Association (NIEA), through the generous support of the Walton foundation, has produced this handbook to promote the growth and expansion of Native charter schools throughout the United States. Charter schools offer a creative and innovative space for educators to increase educational opportunities in their communities and allow tribes and other Native communities across the country to offer new pathways to advance Native identities through teaching and learning. Fundamentally, charters that are grounded in Native ways in knowing, believing and operating provide an educational avenue that many Native peoples have sought for decades.


*IN PROGRESS* American Indian Education Programs by State

ESSA requires each state with Native American students to have a program in place. The standards describe the proficiency level descriptors and student expectations for Native American students. School districts are required to implement ELPS Native American programs as an integral part of each subject in the required curriculum.

Barriers to Tribally Controlled Schools

This October NIEA Factsheet states despite the flexibility provided within the law—the Tribally Controlled Schools Act of 1988—development and success of tribally controlled schools has become hampered by regulations and continuing resolutions that limit federal funding. As a result, tribally controlled schools struggle to fully serve Native students. This NIEA Factsheet explores professional development, funding, BIE School data and how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides states greater flexibility to create policies that meet the needs of Native American students.


Charter Schools for American Indians

This Chapter 11 "Charter Schools for American Indians," (pp. 132-151) of Learn in Beauty: Indigenous Education for a New Century by Brian Bielenberg, edited by Jon Reyhner, Joseph Martin, Louise Lockard and W. Sakiestewa Gilbert. Copyright © 2000 by Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz., explores how charter schools are beneficial to American Indian students.

Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education

This website is the Summer 2018 edition of the Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education. There is a map of tribal colleges. Dine College celebrates 50 years!

Tribal Colleges and Universities

This White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education website offers a map and full listing of existing Tribal Colleges and Universities in the United States and Canada. There is also a goal projection of Tribal Colleges and Universities in 2020.


Forgotten Students: American Indian Students' Narrative on College Going

This 2004 UCLA Graduate Studies report by Amy Fann, prepared for the University of California Berkley Center for the Study of Higher Education, states there is an articulated need for higher education in Native American nations. American Indian students have the highest dropout rates, the lowest academic performance rates and the lowest college mission and retention rates in the nation. As Tribal Nations cautiously look to colleges and universities to prepare tribal citizens for participating in nation building efforts that preserve the political and cultural integrity of their people, the college pipeline for American Indians has largely been unaddressed.

How A Struggling School for Native Americans Doubled Its Graduation Rate (2017)

This 2017 video shares schools that serve Native American students have a history of failure. Fewer than a third of students scored above average on math and reading tests compared to peers nationwide, according to a study commissioned by the Bureau of Indian Education. In 2006, the Native American Community Academy (NACA) launched as a charter school in Albuquerque with the aim of increasing college enrollment in tribal communities, partly by incorporating Native culture into the curriculum. In 2016, over 90 percent of the graduating class was accepted into college. Now, NACA founders are teaching others how to start charters with native leaders and curricula that reflect tribal cultures. The NACA-Inspired Schools Network (NISN) has opened six charters in New Mexico, including Kha'p'o Community School on the Santa Clara Reservation, a native community with failing schools and high crime rates.


First Nation Languages: Why We Need Them

This Manitoba First Nations Resource booklet for students and families explains why language-based education requires support.

Investing in the Future: Native American Youth and Education

This Department of Education Homeroom 2013 blog describes the White House Tribal Nations Conference, whereas the United States was honored to co-host a session for tribal leaders from federally-recognized Indian tribes with my colleagues from eight federal agencies. The purpose was to listen, learn and share pathways to federal resources with the distinguished representatives of a wide range of tribal governments. The context was improving education for the children of Indian Country.

NACA (Native American Community Academy) Inspired Schools Network

This fall, the NACA Inspired Schools Network will have five schools open in New Mexico, with five more on the way. The network is building these schools on NACA’s model of strong academics and college preparation that promote Native American culture, identity and community.  According to the NACA website, "This charter school and its ideas did not spring from the policymakers and think tanks fighting over how to reform the nation’s education system, though it holds lessons for them. Instead, it came from a tight-knit network of Native American organizations in Albuquerque, who started with a simple and powerful idea: They asked tribal communities and families what they wanted. Then, together, they built a middle school, a high school and grew a movement."

Native Students Do Better When Tribes Run Schools

In this 2018 opinion piece for BRIGHT magazine, NIEA Executive Director Ahniwake Rose highlights the innovative work being done by tribes to provide culturally-responsive classrooms and schools.

Public and Charter School Enrollments Remain Steady at 180,000 Students Statewide (Hawaii)

This Hawaii State Department of Education website offers an enrollment counting of public schools versus charters schools for the 2015-2016 school year. Hawaii's public schools continued to enroll just over 180,000 students this year. The total enrollment for school year 2015-16 is 180,409 for the Hawaii State Department of Education's (HIDOE) 256 schools and 34 charter schools, compared with 180,895 in school year 2014-15, and 185,273 the year before that. This year, HIDOE schools enrolled 169,987 students (down 495 from last year), and charter schools enrolled 10,422 (up 9 from last year). Charter schools represent 5.8 percent of public school enrollment. 

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.