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Volume 47 2008 Contents

  • Issue 1 2008

    • American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Education in the Era of Standardization and NCLB – An Introduction
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      Teresa McCarty, Guest Editor pp. 1-9, 2007

      The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-110) is intended to ameliorate persistent disparities in school achievement by making schools accountable for results. The legislation’s premise is unassailable: Who would argue that schools should “leave children behind?” Yet NCLB has become one of the most problematic pieces of education legislation in our nation’s history. In their examination of NCLB impacts in six states, researchers from the Harvard Civil Rights Project succinctly summarize those problems:

        • unrealistic standards;

        • unfair expectations;

        • disproportionately negative impacts on high-poverty schools;

        • lack of a mechanism to recruit and retain highly-qualified teachers in “underperforming” schools;

        • rigidity of the enforcement process;

        • emphasis on a narrow set of outcomes; and

        • use of theories of education reform that do not work in practice. (Sunderman et al., 2005, p. xxxv) 

      The articles in this special issue add to the research on NCLB and standards-based reform by illuminating the impacts and implications of these policies for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian learners, communities and schools.

    • Native American Education Research and Policy Development in an Era of No Child Left Behind: Native Language and Culture during the Administrations of Presidents Clinton and Bush
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      David Beaulieu, pp. 10-45

      This article traces the history of policy development in Native American education from the second term of President William J. Clinton and his signing of Executive Order 13096 of August 6, 1998 on American Indian/Alaska Native education, through the passage and implementation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and initial consideration of its reauthorization in the twilight of the presidency of George W. Bush. The article describes the interaction of political action, research, and policy development under the umbrella of the growing political influence of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) to the successful passage of the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act and preparation for reauthorization of NCLB. The analysis provides a unique perspective of the implementation of NCLB with American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students through a personal narrative of those years by the author, who served in key positions within the federal government and NIEA. Throughout this period, a research agenda in American Indian/Alaska Native education evolved with a focus on the role of Native languages and cultures in Native American education. With the passage of NCLB, that role was threatened despite the plain language of Title VII in NCLB and the pronouncements of President Bush’s American Indian/Alaska Native education executive order. This threat was blunted by a significant effort on the part of NIEA to protect the keystone of post-Meriam federal Indian education reforms: the foregrounding of Native languages and cultures in the education of Native students. Symbolic to this effort and foundational for future efforts was the 2006 passage of the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act in a Republican-controlled Congress and its signing by President Bush.

    • Language, Sovereignty, Cultural Contestation, and American Indian Schools: No Child Left Behind and a Navajo Test Case
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      Teresa Winstead, Adrea Lawrence, Edward J. Brantmeier, Christopher F. Frey, pp. 46-64

      In this interpretive analysis elucidating fundamental tensions of the implementation of the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act within Native-serving schools, we point to ways in which NCLB further limits the already contested sovereignty tribes exercise over how, and in what language their children are instructed. We discuss issues related to the self-determination exercised by schools, some problematic cultural assumptions inherent in the NCLB law, and the legal tension between NCLB and the 1990/1992 Native American Languages Act. Finally, we examine the detrimental effects that NCLB accountability measures could have on Navajo communities, and look at how the Navajo Nation has addressed sovereignty over tribal education in recent years vis-à-vis NCLB.

    • Perspectives on Change: A Continued Struggle for Academic Success and Cultural Relevancy at an American Indian School in the Midst of No Child Left Behind
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      Robert Patrick, pp. 65-81

      Warrior Elementary is a pubic school within the Navajo Nation. District and school reforms fought against school closure or private restructuring due to pressures associated with repeated failure on standardized tests under the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Warrior Elementary saw tremendous academic gains on these tests one year after a district-wide standards-based reform. This study documents the perspectives of the school staff on recent academic growth, the factors attributed to the increase in scores, and the implications of NCLB for Navajo students attending Warrior Elementary School. Allegations of fraud and intense test- preparation emerged along with discourses of prejudice against the local Navajo community. Additionally, due to pressures from state agencies acting under NCLB, a new era emerged at Warrior Elementary: achieving standardization.

    • Reading First, Literacy, and American Indian/Alaska Native Students
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      Jon Reyhner, Denny S. Hurtado, pp. 82-95

      The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 and its Reading First provisions are an attempt to close the academic achievement gap between mainstream Americans and American Indian/Alaska Native and other ethnic minority groups who have a history of below average academic achievement. This article gives evidence that despite its laudable goals, there are serious flaws in NCLB’s approach because it overlooks the role of poverty, motivation, and cultural differences that are major contributors to the achievement gap and because its Reading First provisions have strayed from the “balanced approach” recommended in the National Reading Panel’s report, leading to an overemphasis on phonics approaches to reading instruction. Based on this analysis, recommendations for reauthorization are offered.

    • The Imperative of Literacy Motivation When Native Children Are Being Left Behind
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      Linda Miller Cleary, pp. 96-117

      This in-depth interview study of the schooling experiences of 120 First Nations, American Indian, and Alaska Native students contributes to understandings of their literacy motivation, highlighting tensions between their insights on literacy learning and literacy practices implicated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. With NCLB in full swing and slated for reauthorization, teachers often feel compelled to ignore intrinsic literacy motivators: students’ curiosity and desire for self-expression, self-determination, and feelings of competence. Yet as these Native students report, intrinsic motivation (1) opens up space for them to learn in ways that are congruent with their own of being, (2) provides real audiences and purposes to express those ways of being, (3) shows paths for identity construction through literacy, and (4) constructs two-way bridges to the mainstream world. So that these children will not be “left behind,” we must listen carefully to their gathered voices.

    • “Because We Do Not Know Their Way”: Standardizing Practices and Peoples through Habitus, the NCLB “Highly-Qualified” Mandate, and PRAXIS I Examinations
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      Sundy Watanabe, pp. 118-135

      Standardized testing, mandated by NCLB, can act as a barrier to prevent Indigenous students from entering teacher training programs and achieving “highly-qualified” certification upon exiting. Such regulations work against the nation-to-nation trust agreements that would place Indigenous teachers within Native school systems. Although experiencing difficulty, when these students analyze the epistemological underpinnings of standardized examinations, experience individualized writing instruction, and participate in exam preparation workshops, they can reach their immediate goals of teacher training as well as their long-term career goals of becoming educators in their home communities. Even under less than ideal circumstances, they can exercise self- and community-determination.

    • Mixed Messages: American Indian Achievement Before and Since the Implementation of No Child Left Behind
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      David L. Garcia, pp. 136-154

      This article uses state-level achievement data to examine the academic progress of Arizona American Indian elementary public school students before and since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. In most subjects and grades, American Indian students are making greater progress since the implementation of NCLB. Generally, American Indian students outpace all other major racial/ethnic groups. Compared to their White counterparts, however, American Indian students are most often either falling further behind or are not making sufficient progress to close the achievement gap. Most of the progress since NCLB coincides with changes to Arizona’s state assessments and once data from a one-time test score spike are omitted, the achievement rates of American Indian students drop precipitously. The volatility of these results raises concerns about the integrity of state assessments in high-stakes accountability systems. Finally, recommendations are made to improve the NCLB large-scale assessment and evaluation provisions.

  • Issue 2 2008

    • Editors’ Notes
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      David L. Beaulieu, pp. 1-2

    • State Secret: North Carolina and the Cherokee Trail of Tears
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      James Bryant, pp. 3-21

      This paper is an analytic essay that examines the treatment of the Cherokee Trail of Tears in a North Carolina fourth grade textbook. I begin by offering a satiric look at an imaginary textbook’s treatment of the Holocaust that is based closely on the actual narrative of the Trail of Tears written in the fourth grade text. Following this, close scrutiny is applied to the fourth grade narrative, looking at its subtle messages, its questionable historical methodology, and its lack of drama.

      The second half of the paper is organized around the state of American Indian education in North Carolina as reported by the State Advisory Council on Indian Education. The challenges mentioned are investigated in light of the fourth grade text’s treatment of the Cherokee Trail of tears and its possible repercussions. Finally, several ideas for reform are posited for consideration.

    • An Emerging Native Language Education Framework for Reservation Public Schools With Mixed Populations
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      Phyllis Bo-yuen Ngai, pp. 22-50

      Currently, we lack a viable indigenous language education framework for reservation public schools with mixed Native and non0Native student populations. Can stakeholders holding different and often conflicting points of view agree to accept and nurture Native language education programs in the public school arena? In search of a workable framework that will guide language education efforts acceptable to most (if not all) stakeholders in mixed districts, the author gathered grassroots input across communities with mixed populations on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. Study participants suggested approaches for dealing with existing obstacles and ways to include diverse local perspectives. The emerging framework presented here consists of prerequisite conditions, action steps, and program elements that are abstracted from their district-based recommendations and reservation-wide considerations. Based on participants’ suggestions, this initial blueprint includes guidelines for improving and increasing Native language learning on, and possibly beyond, the research sites. Finally, the author presents implementation questions that highlight areas requiring adaptation in specific contexts and suggestions for further research.

    • American Indian/Alaska Native Voices in the Model of Institutional Adaptation to Student Diversity
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      Raphael Guillory, Mimi Wolverton, Valerie Appleton, pp. 51-75

      Richardson and Skinner (1991) in their Model of Institutional Adaptation to Student Diversity (MIASD) assert that state higher education boards have significant influence on the degree to which institutions respond to student diversity. The purpose of the study (conducted in the 2001- 2002 school year) reported in this article was to determine whether the MIASD remains a useful diagnostic model in examining institutional responsiveness to American Indian/Alaska Native issues at three land-grant universities located in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. A two-part analysis first examined the policies in the three states and policy interpretation at each state’s respective university based on the parameters set forth in the model. Phase two of the analysis compared nine faculty and 30 American Indian/Alaska Native student perspectives about campus diversity initiatives based on the same guidelines. This paper reports the findings of these analyses and discusses the applicability of the MIASD as a state/institutional diagnostic model.

  • Issue 3 2008

    • Introduction: Recent Best Contributions from the NIEA Conference Research Strand
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      Timothy Begay, pp. 1-3

    • “It was bad or it was good:” Alaska Natives in Past Boarding Schools
      [click here for pdf document]

      Diane Hirshberg, pp. 5-30

      In 2004 and 2005 my colleagues and I gathered information on the boarding school and boarding home experiences of 60 Alaska Native adults who attended boarding schools or participated in the urban boarding home program from the late 1940s through the early 1980s. From the early 1900s to the 1970s Alaska Natives were taken from rural communities that lacked either primary or secondary schools and sent to boarding schools run by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), by private churches or, later, by Alaska’s state government. Some were also sent to boarding homes to attend school in urban places. Their experiences reveal a glimpse of both the positive and negative effects of past boarding schools. Many spoke with ambivalence about the boarding school experience, finding both good and bad elements. This article presents some of the finds of this study.

    • He Pū'a Kani 'Āina: Mapping Student Growth in Hawaiian-focused Charter Schools
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      Shawn Malia Kana’iaupuni, pp. 31-52

      Fourteen of the startup charter schools in the State of Hawai’i are Hawaiian-focused, providing an education grounded in culturally relevant content and context. This study centers on outcomes in these Hawaiian-focused charter schools, which have demonstrated their value to the community, serving the educational needs of an increasing number of Native Hawaiian children that enroll each year. Despite their increasingly deep roots within the community and their growing recognition among educators, many of these schools have struggled to meet their federally-mandated goals and face the threat of state intervention and federal sanctions under provisions of NCLB. The rigid performance measurement system established under NCLB holds all schools to the same standard and accepts no justifications for failure to meet that standard. The hard-earned accomplishments of Hawaiian-focused charter schools are important and deserve recognition as schools stretch to support all students to achieve proficiency and positive educational outcomes. Critical to the engagement of Native Hawaiian students is the confidence that comes with cultural relevance and knowing who they are and where they come from as Hawaiian children in today’s global society.

    • A Model of American Indian School Administrators: Completing the Circle of Knowledge in Native Schools
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      Dana Christman; Raphael Guillory, Anthony Fairbanks, Maria Luîsa González, pp. 53-72

      This study sought to understand the perceptions of American Indian educators as they made their way through a pre-service school administrator preparation program at a large, public research university. The Model of American Indian School Administrators, or Project MAISA, prepares American Indian/Alaska Native teachers to obtain Master’s degrees to become licensed principals or other administrators within school systems of the state and/or nearby areas. The study used the lens of cultural imperialism (Downing, Mohammadi, & Sreberney-Mohammadi, 1995; Schiller, 1996) to view how these American Indian pre-service administrators viewed their world within the realm of a dominating culture. Data were collected through three focus group discussions based on an open-ended, semi-structured questionnaire. From analysis of the data emerged five major themes: Relationships, Outside influence, Getting prepared, Altruism, and Concern for Family. Interested in finding out whether the MAISA program was staying true to its mission, which was to provide a culturally relevant program with an American Indian/Alaska Native focus, we were hoping not to find utility in the theoretical framework of cultural imperialism. Although we were not disappointed, we, the researchers, felt that we must be ever vigilant in the planning, preparation, and delivery of American Indian/Alaska Native programs like MAISA. Our schools and universities often mirror the greater society. We believe that cultural imperialist is found in many areas of our society; one of the major effects of globalization has been such cultural imperialism. Our research indicates that non-traditional programs such as MAISA are sorely needed.

* Page Numbers refer to location in the original published version of the article.

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