February 04, 2008

Utah considers Navajo classes

Utah educators want schools to teach Indians native languagesThe state Board of Education wants to offer classes in American Indian languages to Utah students.

The board is asking the Legislature for $275,000 to fund the classes, which it says have been shown to reduce the achievement gap between white and American Indian students.

"Take a look year after year at low test scores and a 50 percent dropout rate," said state Associate Superintendent Brenda Hales. "We have a whole generation of students we're going to lose if we don't start making immediate attempts to help them."

State test results show Navajo students trail white students by 45 percentage points in language arts, 48 percentage points in math and 57 percentage points in science.

In a San Juan School District pilot program where students were immersed in Navajo language classes, those gaps fell to 15, 23 and 10 percentage points difference, respectively.

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