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Improving Student Achievement: The Case for Culture and Language

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1 Improving Student Achievement: The Case for Culture and Language
Implications for Pre-Service Education and Academic Success for Indigenous Students Larry Steeves Sheila Carr-Stewart Faculty of Education College of Education University of Regina University of Saskatchewan Stephanie Furuta University of Hawaii, Manoa

2 Improving Student Achievement The Role of Culture and Relationship

3 The Issue The issue of poverty and education: failure to honour treaties has fostered a culture of dependency, poverty, and disadvantage Research suggests the value of culture and language in the school. If First Nations students are to achieve success in learning, the school and community must be supported. Treaty commitments were made.

4 Honour of the Crown: Failed Commitments
Saskatchewan Indigenous residents demonstrate consistently lower rates of educational attainment. The unemployment rate is 3.25 times higher for Saskatchewan Indigenous members, while the employment rate is 28.6% lower than the general population. The Saskatchewan Indigenous population lags dramatically behind the general population. For example, the average income of Aboriginal residents is $19,939 as compared to $33,108 for the overall population (Statistics Canada, ) Saskatchewan Indigenous residents consistently demonstrate lower levels of educational attainment, labour force engagement, and income. While one cannot claim a direct relationship between the failures to respect treaty educational commitments and these measures, the issue provides food for thought. Most agree that, if the intentions of the First Nations signatories to the Treaties are to be achieved, more successful educational outcomes are necessary.

5 Hawai’i: A Similar Story
Mid 1800’s: Native Hawaiian population is under 50,000, less than 10% of original population. 1893: Illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, resulting in a shift in power and the Native Hawaiian way of life. Beginning of the movement to make English the dominant language. 1896: Use of the Hawaiian language banned in public and private schools. 1898: Hawai’i illegally annexed and becomes an American territory. 1900: Native Hawaiian population under 30,000. Pre-1700’s: A thriving Native Hawaiian society and culture. 1778: Captain Cook’s arrival brings first exposure to European diseases. Late 1700’s: Trading ships arrive. Early 1800’s: Christianity introduced, superseding Hawaiian cultural beliefs and practices. Whalers, merchants and missionaries arrive. Cholera, measles, flu, whooping cough, small pox appear.

6 Hawai’i - The Current Situation
10% of all 2008 University of Hawaii system bachelor’s degree graduates were Native Hawaiians. In 2009 Native Hawaiians made up 25.3% of the Racial/Ethnic composition of Hawaii. 14.1% of Native Hawaiian families were below the poverty level, in contrast to 7.6% of the rest of Hawaii’s population. Approximately 26% of the K–12 public school population in Hawaii is of Native Hawaiian Ancestry. 7% of all 2008 University of Hawaii system master’s degree graduates were Native Hawaiians.

7 The Way Forward: Improving Student Learning
“Education is critical to improving the social and economic strength of First Nations individuals and communities to a level enjoyed by other Canadians” (Auditor General of Canada, 2004) Does education matter? Schools account for 10-20% explained variance in student achievement Other variables (e.g. socioeconomic status, family, community) account for another 30-40% of the variance If we can align these variables, we can do more – 50% is more powerful than 10-20% How do we align these variables? Connecting culture and community can assist. Research suggests that attention to culture and language in the school supports improved student achievement

8 Culture Beyond Learning: Connecting Culture and Values
“…teach our children the traditional cultural values that we have with our people. A lot of them have lost their culture and their language… I have heard elders say … if we don’t teach our children our traditions and our cultural activities, what are they going to know in the future? We are going to lose everything, they said. We are going to lose our treaties. We are going to be just nothing. We are going to be lost. Our kids are going to be lost.” ( Bernice Taypotat, personal communication, 2011)

9 Culture and Learning: William Demmert’s Research
“The available research on the influences of Native language and cultural programs on academic performance is growing in both volume and importance.” “The studies … shed light on two interrelated interests: (1) the struggles of a growing number of Native American communities to maintain or strengthen their traditional languages and cultural heritages and (2) the relationship between strengthening traditional Native identities and improving educational outcomes for Native children.” (Demmert, 2001)

10 Culture and Learning Indigenous Student Achievement: Canadian Research Conclusions
Strong Leadership and Governance Structures Language and Cultural Programs Teachers, Instruction, and Curriculum Effective Schools Community and Parental Influences Student Characteristics Assessment Linked to Instruction and Planning Appropriate Levels of Funding

11 Applying the Research Hawai’i Te Kotahitanga
New Zealand program focusing on Maori students Key features include: Effective teaching practice Culturally responsive pedagogy of relations Family/community connection Evidence based decision making Teacher facilitation support Significant improvement in student achievement Hawaiian children/families face similar challenges Success in education critical for future student success Student achievement research highlights importance of effective, culturally appropriate instruction Pre-service education critical to effective relationships and instruction

12 Te Kotahitanga Is a professional development programme designed to raise Maori educational achievement by supporting teachers and school leaders to become more culturally responsive. (Bishop, Berryman, Wearmouth, Peter & Clapham, 2012) The Te Kotahitanga project is based on Kaupapa Maori theory and has an explicit focus on raising the educational achievement of Maori learners. Te Kotahitanga was developed from a theoretical base identified by Russell Bishop with further development by Russell Bishop, Mere Berryman, and Te Arani Barrett at the University of Waikato.

13 Te Kotahitanga Five phases, from 2001/2 – 2013
First Phase – small group of teachers in one school Second Phase – three schools - two secondary and one elementary Third Phase – 12 secondary schools Fourth Phase – an additional 21 secondary schools Fifth Phase more new schools 2010 – 49 secondary schools, 3,264 teachers and 17,000 students (Bishop, Berryman, Wearmouth, Peter & Clapham, 2012)

14 THE EFFECTIVE TEACHING PROFILE
Essential understandings: To teach Mäori students effectively, teachers must: reject deficit theorising as a way of explaining Mäori students’ achievement levels take an agentic position* and accept professional responsibility for the learning of all students, including Mäori students. Relationships (dimensions) of teaching: The two essential understandings are demonstrated through six main dimensions of teaching and learning: manaakitanga: caring for students as culturally located individuals mana motuhake: having high expectations for students’ learning whakapiringatanga: managing classrooms so as to promote learning wänanga: effective teaching interactions with Mäori students as Mäori ako: using a range of strategies that support learning and teaching kotahitanga: monitoring student achievement data and using the information to modify teaching practice to improve Mäori student achievement, and sharing this information with students.

15 Culturally Responsive Pedagogy of Relations
Implementation of the effective teaching profile promotes contexts for learning where: power is shared. ‘culture counts’, and learners cultural knowledge is valued learning is interactive and dialogic. there is ‘connectedness’ of teachers with learners, demonstrated by teachers’ commitment to their students and the students’ communities. there is a common vision and agenda for excellence for Mäori in education. (Bishop, Berryman, Wearmouth, Peter & Clapham, 2012)

16 Key Findings Phase Three-Four
In both phases of the Te Kotahitanga project, teachers have built their knowledge, skills, and capacities through the implementation of the Te Kotahitanga effective teaching profile. Simultaneously, their Mäori students have experienced continuous improvement in mathematics and reading in the junior school, and made significant gains in external examinations in the senior school. In both phases, these gains have been maintained. The central professional development process of the project was maintained in schools and the additional programme elements that were trialled and adapted have supported the sustainability of the programme.

17 Key Findings Phase Three-Four (continued)
Those schools that fully implemented and sustained the programme in an integrated way had the best outcomes for Mäori students. School leadership is a vital component of the effective implementation and sustainability of Te Kotahitanga. Further, a more systematic intervention based on the GPILSEO model enabled leaders to work towards sustainability. (Bishop, Berryman, Wearmouth, Peter & Clapham, 2012)

18 Student Achievement Gains: An Example
Between 2008 and 2009 Year 10 Mäori students in Phase 4 schools achieved a 50% increase in gain scores in TTle reading assessments and had almost closed the gap to that of the national norm for all students in 2009. Year 11 Mäori students in Phase 4 schools made twice the percentage point gain of the national cohort of Mäori students at Year 11 in NCEA Level 1. Year 12 Mäori students in Phase 4 schools also made a greater percentage point gain at NCEA Level 2 than the national cohort of Year 12 students.

19 Hawaii UH-Manoa: Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT)
2 cohorts currently placing students on the Leeward Coast, an area with a high Native Hawaiian population, with the goal of preparing outstanding teachers and educational leaders, particularly Native Hawaiians, for Hawaiian communities. Key Features: Teacher candidates’ classroom experiences are in schools within Native Hawaiian communities. Place-based & culture-based instruction within methods courses and seminars. Teacher candidates are supported by faculty who are knowledgeable and experienced in working in Native Hawaiian communities and schools.

20 Hawai’i – The Challenges
Teacher candidates who have little or no experience working with Native Hawaiian children or communities. Teacher candidates who are opposed to commuting to rural schools with large Native Hawaiian populations. Teacher candidates who maintain stereotypical beliefs about the Native Hawaiian population, communities and culture.

21 Hawaii – The Successes Teacher candidates’ paradigm shift in thinking about working with Native Hawaiian children and within Native Hawaiian schools and communities. Teacher candidates who continue to work within Native Hawaiian schools after graduation. Currently, more than 80% of the most recently graduated cohort are employed by schools with large Native Hawaiian populations or by programs that serve Native Hawaiian children or communities.

22 Implications for Practice: Pre-service Teacher Education
A PERSPECTIVE FROM HAWAII: Ongoing encouragement for teacher candidates to understand and get to know the communities they work in. Encouraging teacher candidates to be able to find the resources and supports they need to be successful working within their school communities. The inclusion of place-based and culture-based content within the pre-service teacher education program. Placing teaching candidates in schools with indigenous/target populations.

23 Implications for Practice
Culture counts for improved student achievement. Reject deficit theorising regarding students. Teachers agentic positioning. Research-based effective instructional practices. Build relationship with students, family and community. Evidence-based decision making. Support teachers in change efforts. Adopt system wide strategies to support change. Provide meaningful financial support.

24 Questions Stephanie Furuta: furutas@hawaii.edu
Larry Steeves: Sheila Carr-Stewart:


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