Methods: The National Indian Education Study (NIES) collects survey data from Native American students, their teachers, and their administrators to assess student exposure to NLC in their classrooms and homes. We used the 2009 and 2011 data to (1) define the constructs of NLC and Behavioral Context and (2) examine if greater exposure to NLC is associated with better academic performance. In 2009, 22,700 Native students, 8,400 teachers, and 4,200 administrators completed the NIES surveys. In 2011, 20,500 Native students, 7,600 teachers, and 3,900 administrators completed the surveys. We used factor analyses to define NLC and Behavioral Context. We used a two-level moderation model to examine associations between NLC and academic outcomes measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments in reading and math.
Results: On the student level, the NLC construct consisted of Media Exposure and Live Contacts. On the teacher level, it consisted of Professional Development, Reading Instruction, and Math Instruction. On the school level, it consisted of Local Involvement and Instruction. The Behavioral Context construct existed only on the school level and consisted of absenteeism, aggression, low student aspiration, low teacher expectation, and low parental involvement. The testing of the model indicated that (1) use of NLC was associated with lower Native student achievement in reading and math, (2) school-level behavioral context was not a statistically significant mediator of this relationship, and (3) Native enrollment density emerged as a significant moderator, while grade level and gender did not. Native students in schools with high Native enrollment and whose families participated in cultural events and traditions benefitted most from NLC in the classroom.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that integrating NLC into instruction might be more effective in schools with high Native enrollment. Integrating NLC into instruction might also inadvertently trigger stereotype threat that negatively impacts Native students’ academic performance. Future research might focus on the context in which instruction integrating NLC is delivered.