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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
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HOW WELL ARE INDIAN
CHILDREN EDUCATED?

Chapter Two

*METHODS OF STUDY
and
INTERPRETATION

Indian groups throughout the country differ greatly in their cultural background. Some Indian school children belong to tribes to whom educational opportunities have been available for as long as 150 years, whereas others belong to tribes in which these children ore the first generation to whom educational opportunities have been available. Differences also exist as a result of contrasting environments. Many Indian children are bilingual and most of them have rural backgrounds. Since most standardized tests depend upon language-the language of urban life such tests have limitations. An evaluation of the achievement of Indian children by merely comparing their scores on verbal tests with the scores of white children from urban communities would tell little or nothing concerning the attainment of the Indian children. It had been suggested that one might find relatively little difference between the achievement of Indian children who attend public schools and white children from rural environments, since those who attend public schools come from less isolated environments than do the majority of the Indian children in federal schools. Another factor indicated for study was the difference in environment offered to pupils by different kinds of Indian schools.

Most day school students have no contact with English except during the few hours when they are in school, whereas the students in boarding schools are exposed to English during the entire twenty-four hours of the day. Probably the most important difference in school environment is that which relates to the special curricula provided students in Indian schools. The home environment of most Indian students does not provide them with certain types of training in health practices, rural practices and home economics, which most rural white children receive at home. Because of this, the Indian schools attempt to provide those things which are not always included in the public school curriculum. Moreover the vocational objectives of many of the Indian groups differ from the objectives of other Indian groups or white students to the extent that the curriculum in each school must be adapted to the special needs of its students.

It was decided that certain measuring instruments should be tried experimentally during 1944, the first year of the study. Staff members from the Education Division of the Indian Service, with the assistance of staff members of the Department of Education of the University of Chicago, analyzed existing tests. Where suitable tests were not available, they constructed tests in those fields of rural life education to which Indian schools devote considerable attention. The selection and preparation of the measuring instruments finally employed, resulted from a consideration of the following:

1) the immediate and far-reaching purposes of the testing program,

2) the educational program suited to the needs of students now enrolled in Indian schools,

3) the level of Indian pupil achievement in tool subjects such as reading, English, arithmetic and penmanship,

4) the effect that certain differences in educational and home environments (e.g. school attended, language of the parents, etc.) may have had upon the Indian student's achievement.

5) the available measuring instruments with particular reference to:

a) their wide age or educational range, thereby making the test suitable for students with widely differing abilities,

b) reliability or dependability of the measure,

c) validity for purposes intended,

d) simplicity of directions,

e) ease of indicating answers or choices,

f) simplicity of scoring,

g) availability of useful norms,

h) strange or unusual vocabulary,

6) the assembly of information that will provide a better understanding of Indian students and their families,

7) the assembly of information which lends itself to a useful, long-range program.

Table II-1 lists the evaluation instruments which were selected or prepared for use in the trial program in 1944. The standardized tests included were selected because it was believed they would meet many of the requirements of the program.

TABLE II-1--TESTS USED APRIL 1944

Name of Test

Form Used
Iowa Every-Pupil Tests

Test A. Silent Reading Comprehension, Form O

Iowa Every-Pupil Tests Test C. Basic Language Skills, Form O
Iowa Every-Pupil Tests Arithmetic, Parts I, II and III, Form O
Natural Resources USIS-1944. (Mimeographed edition)
Health and Safety

USIS-1944. (Mimeographed edition)

The Iowa Every-Pupil Tests, used in the trial battery of tests, employ a rather complicated system of answering items in order to facilitate mechanical scoring. Such a scheme presented an additional and unnecessary hurdle to Indian children, unfamiliar with this method of response. A review of the difficulties encountered by the students on items in the reading and arithmetic tests in the Iowa battery also revealed that the types of errors seemed to be caused by the fact that the content material was foreign to rural experience, thereby defeating the purposes of the tests. For those two reasons, the Iowa battery was replaced in 1945 by other tests as indicated in Table II-2.

The Indian Service tests in Natural Resources and Health and Safety (the Rural Practices Tests) administered experimentally in 1944 proved to contain certain language hurdles. Consequently, these tests were revised in the light of these findings and other tests were prepared for inclusion in the 1945 program. In all of these, there was an effort to minimize the reading skill required for understanding and responding to each content item.

The pilot study of 1944 was exceedingly helpful in revealing many additional factors which required consideration in this program. The results were based on samples too small to warrant any conclusions concerning the achievement of Indian students.

As indicated in Chapter I, it was decided that the 1945 program should include all of the eighth grade students in Indian schools, as well as students in a selected group of public and mission schools. The total number of students tested in each type of school was as follows:

1945 Distribution of Students Tested

Boarding School Students
281
Day School Students
378
Mission School Students
196
Non-Reservation School Students
198
Miscellaneous Indian Students
246
Public School Students
786
______
Total Students

2,085

The test battery was administered in each of the schools by personnel selected by the area superintendent of education. Only persons who had previously had test experience were used in the administration and in 1945 the tests were administered by persons not connected with the schools in which they were given. Table II-2 lists the test battery given to all eighth grade students in the spring of 1945.

TABLE II-2--TESTS AND MATERIALS USED APRIL 1945

Name of Test or Sheet Form Used
Background Questionnaire USIS-Haskell-3-10-45
Sample Test Sheets USIS-Haskell-3-10-45
Gates Basic Reading Test Form 4. Types A, B, C, and D
Pressey Reading Test Vocabulary Section Only
Pressey English Test Form C. Parts A, B, C, and D
Orleans Arithmetic Test B-Computation Form I
Orleans Arithmetic Test C-Reasoning Form I
Home Economics USIS-HE-45
Use of Resources Genera l-USIS-3-45
Use of Resources Regional USIS-0-45 (for Oklahoma)
  USIS-S-45 (for Southwest)
  USIS-D-45 (for Dakota)
  USIS-M-45 (for Mountain)
Health and Safety USIS-1-45
Credit USIS-2-45

Free Writing A

USIS-A-45
Free Writing B

USIS-B-45

All of the papers from this program were scored in the Chicago Office by a group of well-qualified teachers. Reports on the performance of each individual student within a school, together with graphic norm sheets showing the distribution of scores in each type of school and in each region included, were then distributed to the administrators of the schools which participated.

A good many tentative conclusions, discussed in detail in the following chapters, resulted from the data collected and assembled in 1945. In addition, the need for other, specific data became apparent. It was recognized that many questions can be answered only by following the progress of the same students during a period of several years. However, it was decided to extend the student sample to include students in grades four and twelve the following year, in order that differences in relation to grade level could be observed. In 1946, the tests were administered again to students in selected public and mission schools in order that comparative data for rural white children, and for Indian children in public and mission schools might be available. The total number * of students tested in each grade and in each type of school was as follows:

1946 DISTRIBUTION OF STUDENTS TESTED

Grade 4
Grade 8
Grade 12
Boarding School Students
413
289
65
Day School Students
956
253
17
Mission School Students
212
131
35

Non-Reservation School Students

134
134
295
Miscellaneous Indian Students
228
287
88
Public School Students
950
595
242

Total Students

2,893
1,689

742

* These figures include only those students for whom sufficient data were available to justify the inclusion of their test scores in the compilation of norm sheets.

The standardized tests used in the 1945 program proved sufficiently satisfactory so that all of them were included in the 1946 battery for twelfth grade students. Several of the some tests were administered to fourth graders in 1946. Use of identical test instruments both years made it possible to compare the new data with that collected from the eighth grade students the previous year. This eliminated the necessity of repeating all of the tests at the eighth grade level in 1946. Many of the schools were supplied with all tests for eighth grade students at their own request, in order that they might collect additional information on the students in their own schools. The 1945 Credit Test was omitted because the number of items in the test was so small that it was decided to include them at a later date as a part of another test. The use of regional tests in resources presented a number of problems which made it seem advisable to incorporate those items which tended to be somewhat general in nature, into the General Resources Test. In this test all items clearly having only regional significance were omitted. The Rural Practices Vocabulary Test was constructed and administered to students in grades eight and twelve. The Gates Advanced Primary Reading Tests were selected for testing the reading achievement of the fourth grade students. The Background Questionnaire was revised to include additional data for study. Table II-3 lists the tests included in the 1946 battery.

TABLE II-3--TESTS AND MATERIALS USED APRIL 1946

Name of Test and Form Used

Grades
In Which Administered

Fourth
Eighth
Twelfth

Background Questionnaire, Form Haskell, 3-46

Yes
Yes
Yes
Sample Test Sheet, Form Haskell, 3-45 No
Yes

Yes

Gates Basic Reading Test, Form 4, Types A, B, C, and D

No
**
Yes

Gates Advanced Primary Reading Tests, Types I and II, Form 3

Yes
No
No

Pressey English, Form C. Parts A, B, C, and D

No
**
Yes

Pressey Reading Test (Vocabulary Section Only) Form A

Yes
**
Yes

OrIeans Arithmetic Computation, Form I

Yes
**
Yes
Orleans Arithmetic Reasoning, Form I No
**
Yes

Rural Practices Vocabulary, Form USIS-A-46

No

Yes

es
Free Writing, Form A, USIS-A-45 Yes
**
Yes
Health and Safety, Form USIS-1-45 No
**
Yes
Home Economics, Form USIS-HE-45 No
**

Girls only

USAFI General Science, Form SGSC-1-B-4

No
Okla. only
Yes

Use of Resources, Revised, Form USIS-3-46

No
Yes
Yes

** Those principals who wished to do so were permitted to administer these tests to eighth grade students in their own schools.

It was decided that the problems of test administration and scoring would be considerably lessened by the use of a larger number of administrators, and by having the multiple response type test scored in the field. Through the cooperation of area superintendents of Indian education, persons who were well-qualified to follow the detailed instructions furnished to them were selected to administer the tests in 1946. In some instances, it was recommended that the tests be administered by the classroom teacher. The manual of instructions was prepared in sufficient detail to make the test administration relatively uniform. Area superintendents also arranged for the scoring of all except the Free Writing test. Rechecking indicated that a high degree of grading accuracy was maintained in the field scoring. All of the Free Writing Tests were scored by a small group of teachers who worked under the supervision of one of the staff members from the Chicago Office.

To facilitate a more comprehensive analysis of the background data and test results, all of the dots collected were coded and entered on punch cards so that machine computations would be possible. Provision has been made to add data to these punch cards from time to time to facilitate growth studies and for making other comparisons.

* A more complete description of methods of research is to be found in Appendix C.

 

 

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Last modified August 14, 2006