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Programs & Services

Suggestions for implementing services to support the unique cultural and educational needs of American Indian students in meeting state content standards.

California has one of the largest American Indian student populations in the country, with 36,755 identified students for the 2014–15 school year. Educators need to ensure that educational programs for American Indian students:

  • Recognize and support the unique cultural and educational needs of American Indian students.
  • Help Indian students meet state academic content standards.

Designing Programs

Per Title VII — Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education, of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), funds go directly to local programs to meet the unique academic and cultural needs of American Indian students. Part A, Subpart 1, of Title VII provides for Indian Education formula grant awards to assist school districts, Indian tribes, and other eligible agencies. Funds may be used to:

  1. Identify American Indian students most at-risk in meeting state standards.
  2. Assess the needs of students and their families.
  3. Support research-based, comprehensive educational programs to help reduce the educational barriers that result from cultural and linguistic needs.
  4. Ensure that students receive appropriate coordinated educational services, including support services, that address their special needs.
  5. Help American Indian students achieve the same standards as developed for other students.
  6. Design programs to facilitate students' successful transitions to post-secondary education and employment.

US Department of Education Every Student Succeeds Act External link opens in new window or tab.
Information regarding the new education law including history and background information, frequently asked questions, and guidance and regulatory information as it becomes available.

Service Priorities

Districts need to identify and develop an integrated network of services that effectively meet the linguistic and cultural needs of American Indian students. Defined by federal law (ESSA, Title VII, Subpart 5, Section 7151) an American Indian is an individual who is:

  1. a member of an Indian tribe or band, as membership is defined by the tribe or band, including:
    1. any tribe or band terminated since 1940; and
    2. any tribe or band recognized by the State in which the tribe or band resides;
  2. a descendant, in the first or second degree, of an individual described in subparagraph (A);
  3. considered by the Secretary of the Interior to be an Indian for any purpose;
  4. an Eskimo, Aleut, or other Alaska Native; or
  5. a member of an organized Indian group that received a grant under the Indian Education Act of 1988 as in effect the day preceding the date of enactment of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994.

The purpose of the Title VII program in ESSA is to support the efforts of local educational agencies, Indian tribes and organizations, post-secondary institutions, and other entities to meet the special academic, cultural, and linguistic needs of American Indian students to meet state academic content standards.

Coordination of Services

Indian education programs should coordinate school-based and community-based services to address the needs of Indian students. Priority services and activities include:

  1. Culturally related activities that support the district's educational programs.
  2. Early childhood and family programs that emphasize school readiness.
  3. Enrichment programs that focus on the development of problem-solving and cognitive skills needed for attaining state academic content standards.
  4. Integrated educational services combined with other programs that meet the needs of American Indian students and their families.
  5. Career preparation activities to enable Indian students to participate in such programs as the programs supported by the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act of 1998, including programs for technology preparation, mentoring, and apprenticeship.
  6. Activities to educate individuals about substance abuse and to prevent substance abuse.
  7. Acquisition of equipment, if the equipment is essential to achieve state academic content standards and will assist Indian students in meeting the standards.
  8. Activities that promote the incorporation of culturally responsive teaching and learning strategies into the educational program of the district.
  9. Family literacy services.
  10. Activities that recognize and support the unique cultural and educational needs of Indian children and incorporate appropriately qualified tribal elders and seniors.

Community Partnerships

District staff should develop partnerships with community resources who are knowledgeable about American Indian students. Such partnerships can help the staff identify:

  1. American Indian students enrolled in all schools in the district.
  2. Needs of American Indian students and their families.
  3. Levels of services provided to American Indian students and their families.
  4. Programs that respond to the needs of Indian students and their families.

Coordinated planning helps to ensure that the students with the greatest need have access to the resources for meeting content and performance standards. Greatest need is defined as the extent of academic and support services needed by American Indian students in relationship to the non-American Indian services provided at a school site. Indian education resources should first be utilized at school sites where American Indian students' needs are high and resources to meet the needs are limited.

Schoolwide Programs

Schools should consider the schoolwide model under Title I, Part A, of ESSA to facilitate program coordination and maximize the effect of Indian education funding.

Title I, Part A, schoolwide programs may combine all or part of the Indian education funds under Subpart 1 of Part A of Title VII, if the parent committee established by the school district under Section 7114(c)(4) approves the use of the funds and the program is consistent with the purpose described in Section 7111. Schools that choose to use a schoolwide model for delivering services should address stakeholders, technical assistance, planning, implementation, and evaluation.


Planning a schoolwide program that incorporates strategies to meet the needs of American Indian students requires the participation of all staff, family members, community members, and at the secondary level, students. Activities for stakeholders should include, but not be limited to the following:

  1. Participating in school leadership teams.
  2. Providing input via surveys.
  3. Participating in focus group discussions.
  4. Participating in task groups and planning committees.
  5. Presenting information to schools and local boards.

Technical Assistance

Indian education centers, authorized by California Education Code (EC), Article 6, sections 33380-33385 External link opens in new window or tab., operate in California as educational resources to the Indian students, their parents, and the public schools in their communities. See American Indian Education Centers for a directory. Staff at the district and school levels are urged to collaborate with the Indian education center in their area. Personnel from these centers are important resources to assist in determining the needs of Indian students, their teachers, and others involved in the educational process.

Collaboration with the centers is especially critical for those districts that receive American Indian Early Childhood Education funds under Chapter 6.5 of the EC.

Collaborative services could include:

  1. Identification of students who are at risk not meeting state academic content standards.
  2. Parent education activities to help deal with challenges faced by family members.
  3. Tutorial assistance in reading, mathematics, and other subjects.
  4. Professional development activities about the language, culture, and academic needs of the Indian students.
  5. Activities to improve the self-concept of Indian students and adults.
  6. Counseling services related to personal adjustment, academic progress, and vocational planning.
  7. Adult education and other programs to support the family.

Comprehensive Planning

Planning for a schoolwide program needs to be a comprehensive process involving all key stakeholders. Comprehensive planning for a schoolwide program requires a minimum of one year. The planning process includes the following elements:

Comprehensive Needs Assessment

Needs assessments must effectively reflect the diverse needs of all participants within the school. All does not mean one list of all students' needs. Rather, it means a delineation of specific needs of each student population served. Such an assessment requires using records in which information and data can be disaggregated by student population, as well as collaborating with families and other community members to determine needs and set priorities for services.

Schoolwide Plan

The plan should link Title VII to other federally funded and state-funded programs that serve American Indian children, including Title I, migrant education, neglected and delinquent, programs for English learners, and gifted and talented education. The plan should outline targeted educational and health needs of American Indian students, including school readiness and early literacy, linguistic and cultural diversity, learning styles, completion of high school, post-secondary education, and collaboration with the community, including tribal agencies. Special attention should be paid to professional development activities that include understanding and responding to the cultural differences between the home and school.

Implementation & Evaluation

Title VII staff, parents, and, at the secondary level, students should be involved in all stages of a schoolwide program. In particular, the program needs to be evaluated, and, if necessary, adjusted based on the collective input from all stakeholders.

Quality Control and Accountability. Technical assistance providers should provide ongoing suggestions to ensure that the goals of ESSA are realized. Providers should have cross-cultural understanding and sensitivity related to the needs of American Indian children and their families. Involving Title VII staff and American Indian parents will ensure that the needs of the participants are addressed.

Professional development should be designed to educate everyone, including administrators and school board members, regarding their roles in providing services to American Indian students. ESSA requires reporting to community members and parents the students' progress in schoolwide programs. Evaluation data must also be disaggregated and reported by specific groups, including American Indian students. Assistance must be provided to students who are not succeeding.

Funding & Resources

The allocation of funds and other resources will depend on identified needs and services. Schools may choose to keep some services supplemental, while integrating others. It may be advantageous in some cases to integrate all services at schools and collaborate with an Indian education center for supplemental services. The funding framework should reflect the needs and conditions of each community.

Most importantly, staff should continuously assess students' academic progress and allocate funding to students who are most at risk. Indian education funds may be integrated with other funding for Indian students or kept separate to address specific needs. Staff should make funding decisions that result in increasing students' attainment of state academic content standards.

Visit the Resources page for more funding and resource information.

Questions:   Judy Delgado | | 916-319-0506
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, April 9, 2024
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