Considerations When Evaluating Literacy Skills in American Indian Students On the Fourth Grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 49% of American Indian children were reading below the basic level (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). In traditional Native American groups in the United States Southwest, this percentage is often higher. In some Pueblo Indian groups, children arrive at ... Article
Article  |   March 01, 2005
Considerations When Evaluating Literacy Skills in American Indian Students
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carol E. Westby
    University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Article Information
Development / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Articles
Article   |   March 01, 2005
Considerations When Evaluating Literacy Skills in American Indian Students
Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, March 2005, Vol. 12, 12-15. doi:10.1044/cds12.1.12
Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Populations, March 2005, Vol. 12, 12-15. doi:10.1044/cds12.1.12
On the Fourth Grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 49% of American Indian children were reading below the basic level (U.S. Department of Education, 2003). In traditional Native American groups in the United States Southwest, this percentage is often higher. In some Pueblo Indian groups, children arrive at school speaking their Native languages. Understanding possible language learning and literacy difficulties these children experience in school requires some understanding of the characteristics of the Native language they speak. Students bring their cultural and linguistic experiences to the processes of decoding and comprehending text. When the language and expectations of schools match the experiences of students, reading is facilitated. When students' cultural and linguistic experiences differ from the expectations of the school, as is true for many Native American children, educators must understand the nature of these differences if they are to assist children in bridging from the language of the home culture to the language and literacy of the school culture. The functions and structures of students' home languages can significantly affect their reading comprehension, even when the student is English-speaking (Pritchard, 1990; Steffensen, Joag-Dev, & Anderson, 1979).
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