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Indian Ed and Special Ed: Partnering for Progress Director of Indian Education Special Education Diversity Consultant Facts in Brief 11 Ojibwe and Lakota reservations 4 tribal schools Majority of students attend public schools

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indian ed and special ed partnering for progress

Indian Ed and Special Ed: Partnering for Progress

Director of Indian Education

Special Education Diversity Consultant

facts in brief
Facts in Brief
  • 11 Ojibwe and Lakota reservations
  • 4 tribal schools
  • Majority of students attend public schools
    • 17,331 K-12 in 2005
    • 8,732 grades 7 -12 grades
    • dropout rate of approximately 8%


The legislature finds that a more adequate education is needed for American Indian people in the state of Minnesota. The legislature recognizes the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of American Indian people. The legislature also is concerned about the lack of American Indian teachers in the state. Therefore, pursuant to the policy of the state to ensure equal educational opportunity to every individual, it is the purpose of sections 124D.71 to 124D.82 to provide for American Indian education programs. These programs are specially designed to meet these unique educational or culturally related academic needs or both.

education history
Education History

1936 MN. State Board of Education entered into a contract for $80,000 with the BIA to educate American Indian students in public schools in northern Minnesota.

1954 MN. State Legislature appropriated

5,000 for scholarships for Indian students.

1970’s MN. Legislature appropriation for grants to schools districts for specialized Indian Education programs; began special ed home/school liaison program


1982 MN. State Board of Education adopted a policy statement on Indian Education

1986 Conducted statewide needs assessment on Indian Education; Developed comprehensive statewide plan for Indian Education

1988 MN. State Legislature adopted the Indian Education Act

2001 amended Indian Education Act of 1988

impact of funding
Impact of Funding
  • 1998 research showed that dropout rate was almost double in schools without a State-funded Indian Education program
  • 2005 research showed that districts with federal and state Indian Education funding continued to have a lower dropout rate
grant programs

Success for the Future

Target –American Indian students Pre-k through 12 in public, charter and tribal schools.

Goals – The development of comprehensive and collaborative programs that support academic achievement , decreasing the drop out rate and the improvement of school climate in a culturally appropriate manner for American Indian Students.


Indian Scholarship Program

Provides need based supplemental scholarships to American Indian students pursuing post-secondary certificates, diplomas, degrees or licensure in all fields of study. Awards are individually determined.

Indian Teacher Training Program

Provides scholarships and loans to American Indian students interested in a teaching career at 4 MN institutions.


Ethel Curry Scholarship Program

An endowment from Ms. Ethel Curry of 1 million dollars to establish a scholarship program for junior, senior & graduate American Indian college students. The scholarship is awarded based upon academic excellence.


American Indian Cultural Resources

Units developed by American Indian educators which provide teachers with supplemental materials to teach American Indian culture. The lessons may be used for teaching elementary, intermediate and high school students.

Minnesota Positive Indian Parenting

A manual reflecting the Minnesota American Indian perspective developed to complement the National Indian Child Welfare Association curriculum.


Expanding the Circle

A transition curriculum for American Indian youth. Training opportunities and materials available through the Institute on Community Integration at the U of M, 612-625-5322 or

Curriculum also available through

creating sacred places
Creating Sacred Places
  • Leadership ManualCreating a Sacred Place to Support Young American Indian and Other LearnersCreating a Sacred Place to Support Young American Indian and Other Learners, Vol. IICreating Sacred Places for Students Grades 4-6Creating Sacred Places for Students Grades 7 & 8Creating Sacred Places for Students Grades 9-12
  • NATIONAL INDIAN SCHOOL BOARD ASSOCIATIONPO Box 790Polson, MT 59860 406/883-3603 Fax 406/675-4801 © 2000, National Indian School Board AssociationSite Design by Michelle Mitchell
completing the circle reaching excellence a k 3 reading curriculum

Completing the Circle - Reaching Excellence provides a culturally relevant reading curriculum for Native American children based on a rich body of American Indian literature and thematically related non Indian literature. The curriculum is implemented through research-based “best practices” and strategies for all children and extended to include additional research-based strategies found to be of particular usefulness for teaching Native American children.

additional resources

For a listing of other culturally relevant resources visit the MDE Indian Education website

key elements for success
Key Elements for Success
  • Efforts to increase high school graduation rates and develop pathways to college and the workplace for Native students
  • Efforts to strengthen early childhood education so that Native students enter school ready to learn
key elements for success18
Key Elements for Success
  • Impact and role of Native language and culture on the development of educational strategies to improve academic development
  • Compilation of comprehensive data on academic achievement and progress of Native students
  • Identification and dissemination of research-based practices and "what works" in raising academic achievement and, in particular, reading achievement of Native students
collaboration with special ed
Collaboration with Special Ed
  • Indian Home/School Liaison program
  • American Indian prereferral project
  • American Indian parent involvement grants
indian home school liaisons
Indian Home-School Liaisons
  • Started in 1979 to inform parents of P.L. 94-142
  • Since beginning, combined staff development and district reimbursement
  • Rules adopted in 2001
    • Parallel change in statute
mn rule 3525 0200 subp 1h
MN Rule 3525.0200 Subp. 1h
  • Cultural liaison. “Cultural liaison” means a person who is of the same racial, cultural, socioeconomic, or linguistic background as the pupil, and who:
  • A.provides information to the IEP team about the pupil’s race, cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic background;
  • B.assists the IEP team in understanding how racial, cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic factors impact educational progress; and
  • C.facilitates the pupil’s parent’s understanding and involvement in the special education process.
  • If a person who is of the same racial, cultural, socioeconomic, or linguistic background as the pupil is not available, then a person who has knowledge of the pupil’s racial, cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic background
state funding
State Funding
  • 125A.76 Special education revenue.
    • (c) "Essential personnel" means teachers, cultural liaisons, related services, and support services staff providing direct services to students.
  • Special ed funds claimed for 71 liaisons in 30 districts
    • 90-100 people participate in special ed training
  • Most are prorated
    • Complete regular time-studies to determine % of time spent in special education
  • Supervised by Indian Ed or special ed director
eligible roles responsibilities
Eligible Roles & Responsibilities
  • Share information with staff about language and culture
  • Share information with families about special ed
  • Prereferral: work with student and family to gather information, solve problems
  • “Child Find:” let community know about special ed, identify children with disabilities
  • Take part in referral determination meeting
  • Help identify language or cultural issues for the assessment plan
  • Contact families, explain process and assessment plan
  • Obtain consent for assessment
  • Help gather information from the family
  • Help conduct observations, particularly for behavior
eligibility iep
Eligibility & IEP
  • Contact family to set up meeting
  • Help explain assessment results to parents
  • Take part in IEP meeting
  • Help parents participate in setting goals
  • If parents cannot attend meeting, explain IEP individually
  • Help student get started in program
  • Provide ongoing communication with the family about progress, questions
staff development
Staff Development
  • Original training done through university for credit
    • Stopped because of logistics, retirement of key staff
  • Currently
    • New liaison orientation
    • Fall and spring workshops
      • Spring training joint w/ special ed
workshop topics
Workshop Topics
  • Updates on laws and regulations
  • Cultural topics, cultural curricula
  • Family & community issues: guardianship, ICWA, grief & loss, FAS/FAE, violence prevention
  • Disability services, conflict resolution, NCLB, nonbiased assessment, FBA
spring 2005 survey
Spring, 2005 Survey
  • 50% response rate total
  • Where you work
    • 21 in small cities or towns
    • 13 in rural districts
    • 4 in suburban districts
    • 4 in urban districts
district demographics
District demographics
  • 19 primarily non-Indian students
  • 15 have mixed demographics
  • 5 have primarily Native American students
ihsl formal education
IHSL Formal Education
  • 14 have college degrees
  • 6 attended grad school or have an M.A.
  • 8 have a 2 year degree
  • 13 have some college or technical school
  • 3 have a h.s. diploma
reliance on mde workshops
Reliance on MDE workshops
  • 24 say “a lot, these are the only workshops I get to attend”
  • 20 say “moderately, I have some other opportunities”
  • 2 say “a little, I have lots of other training opportunities”
of time spent with spec ed
% of Time spent with Spec Ed
  • 10 spend 0-25% of time
  • 15 spend 26-50%
  • 10 spend 51-75%
  • 7 spend 76-100%
rank order
Rank order
  • IHSL rank-ordered activities according to time spent
    • “Ongoing communication with families about student progress & problems” -- 28 ranked this #1, 2 or 3
    • “Family communication about referral, evaluation, & placement, including paperwork and due process -- 18 people ranked #1, 2 or 3
    • “Attending IEP meetings” -- 7 ranked #1, 2 or 3 BUT 7 ranked next to last or last
“Putting out fires” -- 17 ranked #1, 2 or 3
    • BUT 9 ranked lowest or next to lowest
  • Prereferral activities-- 13 ranked #1, 2 or 3 BUT ranked next to last by 10 people
  • Assisting with assessments -- 9 people ranked next to last; 0 ranked #1 (training on FBA didn’t work!)
survey quotes
Survey Quotes
  • Asked “What would you like to tell special educators?”
    • “From my perspective, I think it is important for special ed. staff to know that we are part of the Special Ed. team, that we have training and are knowledgeable in special ed. regulations, etc, --- and that we are actually an asset to the team. In addition it would be helpful to rid stereotypes by giving recent stats on areas where Native Americans have progressed and also historical factors that continue to affect Native people today.”
I would want shared with Special Ed. Directors the History of Indian Education and how it ties in with Special Education. I also would like it shared that we are a part of Special Ed. At our schools I feel like it is a bother for the Special ed. staff to include us in the planning, etc. and that they don't believe that we are to be included. I feel like we are separated too much.
“As far as what to share with Sp. Ed people...They need to know thatwe can be their best friendin difficult situations if they use us properly, especially at the beginning. . . I am a co-worker with knowledge. I am not their personal slave, flunkie, or inferior.”

Weighted & inverted relative risk ratios, using Westat spreadsheet

  • Results for districts w/ minimum cell size 10
  • Districts with IHSL:
    • Median weighted risk ratio of 1.60, interquartile range .58, range 1.0 – 2.4
  • Districts w/o IHSL
    • Median WRR 1.79, IQR .96, range 1.0 - 15
  • Districts with high WRR include:
    • Charter & tribal schools w/ high Indian enrollment but no IHSL (impact of parent choice?)
    • Districts w/ few Indian students
  • New goals:
    • Encourage all districts w/ high enrollment to have IHSL
    • Develop plan to provide IHSL services to districts w/ few students
    • Increase access to district/regional special ed training
other initiatives
Other Initiatives
  • Indian parent grants
    • Other parent grants given to disability groups or districts; priority on underserved groups
    • Feedback was that Indian parents less likely to participate in these programs
    • Initiated RFP for grants to tribal schools or public school Indian Ed in 04-05 school year
    • Still collecting evaluation data on results
american indian prereferral project
American Indian Prereferral Project
  • Led by Dr. Olivia Melroe, MN State University-Moorhead,; funded with federal discretionary $ and Indian Ed $
  • Focused on English-language skills and literacy
    • 97% of students’ home primary language is English, but interested in “Res English”
    • Have collected data in several districts over several years; consistent results
4 Subtests, 2 Clusters, 1 Broad Score
  • Standard Scores (M=100, SD=15) & CALP Scores
w munoz and calp
W-Munoz and CALP
  • Level 5: Advanced English CALP
      • language demands easy
  • Level 4: Fluent English CALP
      • language demands manageable
  • Level 3: Limited English CALP
      • Language demands difficult
  • Level 2: Very Limited English CALP
      • Language demands extremely difficult
  • Level 1: Negligible English CALP
      • language demands impossible
other assessment measures
Other assessment measures
  • DIBELS and CBM showed consistent differences between Indian and non-Indian peers
  • Adapted Marilyn Jager Adam’s curriculum for cultural appropriateness
  • Intervention was a pilot -- small n, variation in implementation
  • Intervention results were not significant statistically but had some promising trends…
  • Teachers who used the intervention responded favorably
  • Intervention could be adapted to be even more culturally appealing
  • Additional interventions at home and school should be investigated
  • Data on language issues and early literacy and reading deficits increased awareness (and willingness to try GE interventions?)
current application in mn
Current Application in MN
  • Using as basis for training of trainers program on prereferral practices
  • Training will be piloted in 4 districts this spring; expanded next year
    • Pilot districts selected because of disproportionality and interest