The urgent needs of Oregon's tribal students | Chalkboard Project

The urgent needs of Oregon's tribal students

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Sue Hildick

In January, we released preliminary findings of the condition of education for members of Oregon’s Indian tribes. Today, we are pleased to release the final report that probes deeper into the educational achievement and attainment of tribal students in Oregon public schools. The analysis was conducted by ECONorthwest and commissioned by the Spirit Mountain Community Fund and the Chalkboard Project.

For the first time, we have an opportunity to outline existing conditions and define the challenges Oregon’s tribal students face. Prior to this study, tribal leaders could not accurately ascertain how tribal members were performing in school. Thanks to a data-sharing agreement among the tribes, the Oregon Department of Education, and ECONorthwest, we were able to discover some outcomes and needs of tribe-enrolled students.

Tribal students in Oregon face many hurdles in educational achievement and attainment. The findings show that 75 percent of Oregon tribe-enrolled students live in low-income households, almost one-third are enrolled in underperforming schools, and nearly 50 percent are attending rural schools. These conditions, along with other factors, have led to significant achievement gaps among Oregon’s tribal students relative to their peers in the state. For example, Oregon tribe-enrolled third grade students have a 5.1-point gap in reading as compared to their peers. In math, tribal-enrolled eighth graders had a 4.7-point gap.

At Chalkboard, we believe data is a powerful storyteller. We hope the data from this report creates a sense of urgency and will trigger actionable steps among tribal leaders, educators, and policymakers. As Kathleen George, community fund director from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund said, “Too many tribal kids are out of sight and out of mind in our education system…. These kids cannot wait any longer to get an effective education.”

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