North Dakota has seen an increase in the graduation rate for Native American students.
State school Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said when she was first elected, the Native graduation rate was 57%. Now it’s 72%. And Baesler said while that is significant progress, there’s more to do.
The overall graduation rate in North Dakota is 89%.
Baesler attributes the better numbers for Native American children in part to more engaged school boards.
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"When school boards get distracted by spending more time talking about adult issues, and less time talking about issues that impact their students, those schools go astray," Baesler told Prairie Public radio.
Baesler said the Department of Public Instruction has been working with local schools to institute more culturally-aware curriculum in schools across the state.
"Over 2,000 of our teachers have received the 'Essential Understandings' training DPI has offered for the last five years," Baesler said. "It's our goal to make sure all of our teachers have that training."
Baesler said one trend she’s noticing is Native American students who take two or more career and technical education courses actually have shown a 94% graduation rate.
"If they take two years of marketing, automotive or construction, any CTE course, they're graduating at a higher rate than the state average," Baesler said. "There's something in those courses we need to capture more of."
Baesler said in the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress test, Native American reading scores went up three points.