ERIC Number: ED388484
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995
Issues in Cross-Cultural Assessment: American Indian and Alaska Native Students. Knowledge Brief, Number Twelve.
Estrin, Elise Trumbull; Nelson-Barber, Sharon
This brief focuses on assessment issues for American Indian and Alaska Native (collectively referred to as "Native") students, as well as other pedagogical issues related to improved teaching and educational outcomes. Although traditional Native educational strategies emphasize cooperation, experiential learning, and reflection, Native students continue to be at a disadvantage in the classroom. The reasons lie in several intersecting realities: troubled historical relations between tribes and the federal government affecting Native schooling, ongoing educational practices that ignore or devalue cultural ways of knowing, and the dearth of American Indian and Alaska Native teachers. Understanding the school performance of Native students requires a sociocultural perspective that takes into account differences between community and school in social and cultural context, the unconscious nature of these contexts, effects on student learning and organization of knowledge, and implications for effective instructional styles and student evaluation. Despite supportive federal legislation, a repertoire of culturally specific instruments to assess Native student performance does not exist. Standardized norm-referenced tests present such difficulties as inappropriate content, time pressures, reliance on verbal information, basic premises of multiple-choice testing, and alien nature of formal on-demand testing. Indeed, achievement tests can be seen as merely indices of the student's acculturation to Western cultural knowledge and conventions for displaying knowledge. More culturally responsive assessment incorporates content reflecting local contexts and experiences, uses procedures that reflect local ways of thinking and learning, and provides students with options. Other concerns related to the question of whose standards are appropriate, proper interpretation and use of test data, and the value of alternative assessments. (SV)
Descriptors: Alaska Natives, Alternative Assessment, American Indian Education, American Indians, Classroom Communication, Cultural Context, Cultural Differences, Culturally Relevant Education, Culture Conflict, Educational Environment, Educational Strategies, Elementary Secondary Education, Epistemology, Evaluation Problems, Instructional Effectiveness, Student Evaluation
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Far West Lab. for Educational Research and Development, San Francisco, CA.; Native Education Initiative of the Regional Educational Labs.