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NIEA Statement About Latest High School Graduation Rate Data: More Reasons Why We Must Improve Native Education

For Immediate Release
News Alert
November 28, 2012

Contact NIEA Communications
T: 202.544.7290
Social: @WereNIEA (Twitter)/NieaFanPage (Facebook)


latest high school graduation rate data: more

reasons why we must improve native education

new information reaffirms policy recommendations to Congress and the obama administration

Washington, DC – Once again, the data demonstrates that much still needs to be done to ensure that American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children are provided the high-quality teaching and comprehensive culturally based curriculum they need to graduate from high school. This is the conclusion National Indian Education Association has reached from its analysis of graduation rate data released by the U.S. Department of Education this week.

The data, which details 2010-2011 Four-Year Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates (ACGR) for states and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education, isn’t shocking to NIEA and its more than 3,000 members and advocates.  In an age in which knowledge is needed to bring prosperity to – and preserve the traditions of – Native communities, our children are lagging behind their non-Native peers:

  • Nine states – Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington – have graduation rates for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students lower than 60 percent.
  • Only six states – Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Texas – have graduation rates for AI/AN students of 80 percent or greater.  Only Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee have AI/AN graduation rates are the same as or greater than the state average for Caucasian students.
  • Three states – Alaska, Arkansas, and Michigan – have graduation rates for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (NH/OPI) students lower than 60 percent.
  • BIE, which serves seven percent of AI/AN students, has a graduation rate of just 61 percent. Just 56 percent of children with disabilities served by BIE graduated on time.
  • Minnesota, which has a significant Native student population, has the lowest four-year adjusted graduation rate, with only 42 percent of students graduating with a diploma in four years.

“This graduation data is another sobering reminder that our students aren’t receiving the high-quality education they need to be the future leaders of our tribes and communities,” says NIEA President Dr. Heather Shotton. “We must take steps toward improving Native education for all of our children.”

The latest graduation rate news comes on the heels of NIEA’s release last week of a series of policy recommendations to the Obama Administration as it begins the transition into a second term. The recommendations, part of the Association’s efforts to reform Native education for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children, provide guidance to Administration officials in understanding the unique needs of Native students. Among the recommendations offered by NIEA include support for the passage of the Native CLASS Act (S.1262), which would help address many of the systemic problems in Native education.

Reporters seeking additional information and analysis can contact NIEA’s Director of Communications, either at (202) 544-7290 or at



WHO: NIEA President Dr. Heather Shotton and the Association’s more than 3,000 members and advocates

WHAT: NIEA’s statement on 2010-2011 Four-Year Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates (ACGR) for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students.

WHY: The data is another reminder that Native education is in a state of emergency.

MEDIA CONTACT: NIEA Communications ( or 202.544.7290)


About National Indian Education Association:  The premiere organization advocating for educational excellence, opportunity, and equity for Native students, the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) advances comprehensive educational opportunities for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians throughout the United States. Learn more at