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National Indian Education Association Says Schools Perform Better When Parents Are Involved

These are parents who participate in most school decisions, and go beyond the PTA meeting. 

Washington, DC (June 20, 2011) – There is a surprising, maybe not so surprising, correlation found in the 2008 report from National Caucus for Native American State Legislators: schools and students perform better when parents are highly involved.

In this analysis among 33 schools in Montana, they found that higher achievement among Native students was more closely associated with parent, family, and community engagement in schools than with teaching, leadership, and curriculum.

“This goes beyond the scope of being a part of the PTA and sending students off to school,” says Dawn Mackety, NIEA Director of Research, Data and Policy. “Schools in which Native students are doing well have parent groups who volunteer, host family dinners, carpool, present in the classroom, guide educational programming, and recruit and recommend staff to school leaders.”

Ms. Mackety recently presented this analysis at the Central School Improvement Grant (SIG) Regional Conference in Denver, CO. The conference offered built-in team planning blocks on each day to afford state, school, or district teams to work on action plans for the near future based on research based information.

In her presentation, Ms. Mackety shared that personal and positive communication like parent newsletters, flyers, emails, and personal notes and phone calls to parents provide a constant positive connection to their children and the schools they attend. Further, strong engagement encourages students to respect their community, elders, respect themselves, stay sober and drug free, learn self-discipline, and contribute to community well being.

“Parents need to be a stronger part of their children’s learning. This is about learning the ways to be a contributor to their community and not just preparing them for tests. Our students need that parental encouragement and this is just another way to see them succeed. And who doesn’t want to be a part of that?”


Dawn Mackety's work focuses on furthering NIEA’s mission through effective educational research, data collection and national policy advancement. Dr. Mackety will lead NIEA’s research efforts by planning, designing, and collecting essential data about Native students and educators. Prior to joining NIEA, Dawn was a principal researcher at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) in Colorado. Her research focused on science-based programming in non-formal educational settings and issues of American Indian student academic achievement, including graduation, dropout prevention, parent and community involvement, student resilience, mobility, and parent involvement.. As a former educator, Dawn created and directed the Native American studies department for the Kingman Museum in Battle Creek, Mich.


The National Indian Education Association is a membership based organization committed to increasing educational opportunities and resources for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students while protecting our cultural and linguistic traditions.

Incorporated in 1970, the Association strives to keep Indian country moving toward educational equity. Governed by a Board of Directors made up of twelve representatives, NIEA has several committees that work to ensure Native educators and students are represented in various educational institutions and forums throughout Indian Country and Washington, D.C.