Improving Academic, Social, and Cultural Outcomes for Native American High School Students

Lack of a culturally relevant education in a southern California community demonstrates the need to determine best practice criteria to improve outcomes for Native American high school students, who are suspended more than peers and score well below district averages on standardized testing. While a community-wide desire to improve outcomes does exist, there is no plan on how to do so. A review of literature reveals that for a lasting culturally relevant education to be established, awareness of bias and stereotyping must be explored, and systems within the community must exist to nurture communication. The body of research is lacking in relevance to students of Native American ancestry in southern California. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted, to determine staff, shareholder, and Native American student priorities to improve academic, social, and cultural outcomes. Research question that guided the study was: what personal factors, community programs, and school supports have the potential to most affect academic, social, and cultural success of local Native American high school students? Top ranked priorities included: tribal community service, employment, and internship opportunities; establishing a Native American Studies elective class; hosting colleges with Native-related majors; and integrating Native American perspectives within the TK-12 setting. Recommendations include creation of a cross-cultural tribal education coalition, a Native American student success PLC, and implementation of the top-ranked priorities. This research is relevant to school district and tribal leadership, in order to build toward a culturally relevant education and improved outcomes for local Native American high school students.