The percent of Alaska Native students attending and persisting in college is far below the percent in the Alaska high school population. For years, educators across the state of Alaska have struggled to address this discrepancy. Most models for building college-going cultures do not consider the unique experiences of Alaska Native youth. This project is designed to consider this population specifically and help schools develop opportunities for cultural responsiveness in college preparation.
The Becoming Aware self-assessment tool helps schools consider biases and identify opportunities to capitalize on student cultural strengths as part of a college preparation program. The assessment tool is build on both research and experiences from Alaska Native students and cultural experts.
The audience for the self-assessment is educators, many of whom are non-Native and may be just beginning to think about how culture may impact college readiness. Background information provides material for deeper understanding.
Use the assessment tool as part of a school improvement process. The tool will be a catalyst for conversations necessary to start a change. Results of the assessment can also guide actions for school improvement plan. Purposeful efforts to increase cultural relevant practices can help improve student data. Schools are encouraged to use student data on college-going rates and college readiness indicators alongside the assessment to monitor progress on outcomes.
Why Focus on College?
College is not for everyone, this is true. There are many valuable post-secondary goals that do not include college. The purpose of this project is not to value college over other post-secondary training plans. In fact, users of the work are encouraged to use the term "college" interchangeably with post-secondary education and training, inclusive of vocational training, and apprenticeships and dual-credit should include career pathway classes that earn industry certificates.
The reason it is so important, however, to have the focus on college is to purposefully challenge a historic tendency of schools to funnel Alaska Native post-secondary preparedness toward vocational education.
Historically-- and too often today--the promotion of vocational training as appropriate for many Alaska Native Students contributes to an unintentional communication that Alaska Native students are not college material.