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Equity & Diversity

Ed. Dept.: Tribes, Districts Must Work Together on Behalf of Native Students

By Corey Mitchell — September 27, 2016 1 min read

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, districts with tribal students must work with tribal leaders on issues affecting American Indian and Alaska Native students, new guidance from the U.S. Department of Education says.

A “Dear Colleague Letter” dated Sept. 26 urges affected districts to team with tribes to foster the “collaboration that is a critical part of improving academic outcomes for Native students.”

The guidance underscores the requirement that districts with tribal students must consult with tribal leaders on any plan or application for federal grants and funds. That includes programs under Title I that govern neglected, delinquent, or at-risk students and those under Title III that affect English-language learners. Previous iterations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act did not require districts or states to collect feedback from tribal leaders.

The department also announced an agreement with the Navajo Nation that will unite 66 Bureau of Indian Education-funded schools across three states—Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah—and allow the tribe to develop a single system of standards, assessments, and accountability. Previously, the tribe has implemented the standards and assessments of the states where the schools are located.

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr., U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, and Navajo leaders are expected to sign the agreement today.

Here’s a look at the “Dear Colleague” letter:

ESSA FAQ Tribal Consultation by corey_c_mitchell on Scribd

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Photo Credit: Nicole Williams, a Native American interpreter at Calcedeaver Elementary School near Mount Vernon, Ala., reviews Choctaw dances with 5th grade students.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.