Native American Sucess

Increase the academic success of Native American students.

Native American students make up approximately 11 percent of the student population in South Dakota. Many of these young people come from families living in poverty, and the connections between poverty and lower academic achievement have been well documented.

In South Dakota, there is a 35-point difference between how our Native American and white students perform on the National Assessment of Educational Progress - Reading at 4th grade, and a 24-point gap at 8th grade.

Furthermore, we know that students living in poverty are three times more likely to drop out of high school or fail to graduate on time. And students who are poor readers and live in poverty are the hardest hit; they are six times at a greater risk to drop out than their proficient counterparts. (Double Jeopardy, Annie E. Casey Foundation 2012)


  • The Native American Student Achievement Advisory Council, or NASAAC, has made several recommendations, including the Native American Achievement Schools program, a grant program through which three schools in Indian Country will get the opportunity to change the delivery of education, with an emphasis on language and culture.

  • Through the Paraprofessional Scholarship Program, another NASAAC recommendation, several current paraprofessionals serving Indian Country have the opportunity to attend college and earn teaching degrees.

  • South Dakota has state content standards—the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards, or OSEU, or OSEU—which are intended to help guide South Dakota K-12 educators in teaching about Native American history and culture. A number of teacher trainings have been held to help educators weave the OSEU together with social studies standards to create relevant lessons for all students.

  • A number of schools across South Dakota offer the Jobs for America’s Graduates program, which targets students at risk of dropping out of high school by providing intensive support throughout the student’s academic career. The South Dakota Department of Education provides support and leadership for this highly effective program.

  • The department hosts an annual Indian Education Summit to provide professional development for educators and entities serving Native American students, and to promote awareness of best practices.


For additional information, contact the South Dakota Department of Education
at (605) 773-3134.