American Indian girls waiting to dance at festival

Professor: No Child Left Behind disappoints in Indian Country


Maureen Roen

The policies of No Child Left Behind, with its emphasis on standardized testing and the use of a one-size-fits-all approach to education, has not served American Indian and Alaska Native children well – nor non-whites overall – reports a March 7 article published by Indian Country Today Media Network titled "No Child Left Behind Act: A Bust in Indian Country."

The article notes the widening gap in test scores between 2003 and 2011 between Native children and white children in reading and math at the fourth-grade level and in math at the eighth-grade level.  

These results are not surprising, Indian Country Today reports, given that research shows that Native children learn best in culturally- and linguistically-relevant classrooms. The article quotes the 2011 policy brief published by Teresa McCarty, co-director of ASU's Center for Indian Education and the Alice Wiley Snell Professor of Education Policy Studies and applied linguistics in the School of Social Transformation. McCarty concluded "there is compelling empirical evidence that strong, additive, academically rigorous Native language and culture programs have salutary effects on both Native language and culture maintenance/revitalization and student achievement, as measured by multiple types of assessments.”

McCarty's brief, "The Role of Native Languages and Cultures in American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian Student Achievement," can be downloaded from the Center for Indian Education website.