ARLINGTON, Va. —The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards today announced a groundbreaking initiative with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to boost accomplished teaching in BIE-funded schools.
As part of the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to working with tribal leaders to address the challenges facing Indian Country, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Education Secretary Arne Duncan convened a study group to work with tribes and other BIE stakeholders to identify the causes of low-performance in BIE-funded schools.
After numerous listening sessions and tribal consultations, the study group released a “Blueprint for Reform,” a comprehensive plan to redesign the BIE to achieve one overarching, mutual goal for the BIE and tribes: to deliver a world-class education to all students attending BIE schools.
One of the study group’s recommendations was for the BIE to partner with the National Board. The effort will help teachers pursue certification, a rigorous, performance-based, peer-review process similar to Board certification in fields such as medicine, with a goal of 1,000 Board-certified teachers in BIE schools by 2020.
The initiative also provides support to increase the instructional capacity of teachers who are not yet eligible for certification. By fostering a dialogue among all 4,000 BIE teachers and supporting aspiring teachers in their pre-service training, the initiative builds a self-sustaining culture of professional learning and peer support. Professional development of existing staff delivered by the National Board is a critical component of the Blueprint’s recommendations because of the difficulty BIE has in attracting teachers and principals to remote locations.
“It is not enough to increase the number of Board-certified teachers in Native American schools,” said Ronald Thorpe, president and CEO of the National Board. “We need to create an expectation and a pathway for every teacher to achieve certification, which includes support and resources beginning in pre-service teacher preparation.”
BIE schools, numbering 183 in 23 states, play an important role in preserving Native cultures and providing access to students in remote tribal areas. However, students at BIE schools lag far behind their peers in mainstream public schools. Test scores for Native American students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress fourth grade reading test are 25 points below the national average, and the high school graduation rate for students in BIE schools is 59 percent, compared with 80 percent for students across the country.
“Our schools are central to building our communities,” said BIE Director Dr. Charles M. “Monty” Roessel. “Our partnership with the National Board shows a real commitment to providing students with advantages that will help them break the cycle of poverty.”
Teaching quality is a major factor in improving student achievement. Studies show that students of Board-certified teachers outperform their peers in other classrooms.
The National Board will provide leadership support and work to connect Board-certified teachers who have self-identified as Native American with the BIE schools. Additionally, participants will attend the National Board’s Teaching & Learning Conference in order to engage with Board-certified teachers from across the country.
“The National Board has a proven record of producing accomplished teachers who can deliver an excellent learning experience for all Native American students, said Stuart Paisano, governor of the Sandia Pueblo in New Mexico. “Our children deserve the best education to ensure that they too can achieve their dreams.”