PULLMAN — Accepting a challenge from the state’s lawmakers, four Washington State University researchers will report on the best ways to help Native American students succeed.
The title of their project is “Addressing the Educational Achievement Gap of Native American Students in Washington State.” However, it will emphasize potential achievement rather than the long-standing gap between the accomplishments of those students and their non-native peers, said Associate Professor Michael Pavel.

“Indian education dates back to a time when all children were considered gifted and talented,” said Pavel, who leads the research team. “That is our vision for Indian education today.” 

The researchers have only six months to complete the work, which is funded with $131,000 appropriated by the Washington Legislature.  They will report to the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs. Craig Bill, office director, said the study will be done in consultation with the Tribal Leader Congress on Education and the Washington State School Directors Association.

“The Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs is excited to partner with Washington State University and I commend WSU for the great support it has shown from all levels,” Bill said. “I am also delighted by the research team’s commitment to actively engage tribes and community members.”

The researchers will submit a “call to action” paper in December. Their report will include:
• a detailed analysis of the achievement gap for Native American students;
• an analysis of progress in developing effective government-to-government relations and adoption of curriculum regarding tribal history, culture and government;
• a comprehensive plan for closing the achievement gap in keep with the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act;
• measures for monitoring adequate yearly progress toward the goals.

Pavel, a member of the Skokomish Nation, is also known by his tribal name, CHiXapkaid.  He is known nationally for his research on indigenous education. Other WSU College of Education professors working on the state project are Associate Professor SusanRae Banks-Joseph, an Arapaho tribal member whose expertise is in special education; and Associate Professor Lali McCubbin, an expert in multicultural counseling who helped conduct a Hawaiian Achievement Gap Study.  The fourth team member is Assistant Professor Ella Inglebret of the WSU Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, who has administered a successful program to recruit Native American students into the field of speech-language pathology.
For further information, contact Michael Pavel at mpavel@wsu.edu, phone 509-335-7075; or Craig Bill at cbill@goia.wa.gov, 360-902-8827.