NKSD seeks grant for Native American education

North Kitsap School District is applying for a Federal Indian Education grant to better support Native American students and curricula.

A public hearing on the application process for the $122,662 grant was held Tuesday night via Zoom. The hearing was congruent with the district’s regular meeting with local tribal leaders and parents as part of its Inter-Tribal Parent Education Committee, which meets every six weeks.

“The purpose of the grant is to fund programs that meet the unique cultural, language and educational needs of Native American students and ensure that they meet the challenging state academic standards,” according to the Office of Indian Education.

For NKSD, the grant would focus on increasing cultural identity and awareness, support at-risk students, and increase graduation and attendance rates.

To accomplish that, the district employs six Native American liaisons, two of which are directly funded by the Title VI grant.

“The liaisons provide culturally responsive mentoring/academic support, Native Education opportunities, parent outreach and student advocacy,” said Valerie Anderson, NKSD associate director for state and federal funding.

Staffing Native American liaisons are just one of four services that the grant would help provide. The other three are: providing support to schools that fall under Title I designations (schools, where 40 percent of students enrolled are from low-income families), support teacher training and support for learning assistance programs.

The grant would also support cultural opportunity programs that would support all students, such as Native American History and language classes.

A key component to the application process required that NKSD conduct a needs assessment of its Native American students to understand how it can reach its goals.

“The cultural opportunities are provided for either all students or for specific groups, based on guidance and fit. Native American liaisons are available to assist any students, but specifically focus mentoring and academic supports for Native students, as determined through multiple measures: attendance data, grade data, credits, teacher/family/principal referrals and self-selection,” Anderson said.

According to the needs assessment data collected over the course of the last school year the students most in need are in middle and high school.

The data shows that 25 percent of Native middle school students were passing classes, while 22 percent were receiving no credit or failing grades. The same data shows that 24 percent of Native high school students were passing, while 23 percent were barely passing.

For grades K-5, the data did not track specific grades but overall how well Native students were doing in English Language Arts and Math classes. The data shows that 66 percent were on their way to meeting standards while 30 percent were meeting standards.

The high point in the data was attendance. Over 80 percent of students were attending classes but there was a significant drop between elementary and middle/high school rates. The data collected from middle schools shows that 85 percent attended, while 87 percent attended high school, compared with 97 percent attendance at elementary schools.