Nicholas Banovetz is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now today released the ‘Native American Student Achievement in Minnesota’ report, which:

  • Presents the hard truth about Minnesota’s record of nation-lagging performance for Native students, while taking an in-depth look at how some schools are bucking the dismal statistics;
  • Employs a new approach for presenting data about education inequities by comparing student subgroups to national averages;* and
  • Endorses honoring tribal sovereignty, and processes by which Native and mainstream groups together identify priorities and set shared goals.

Access the report.

Minnesota has the lowest on-time high school graduation rate for Native students in the United States, but some schools are beating the odds.

Jacqueline White, a strategic communications consultant and report co-author, shared, “The depressing statistics about educational inequities can obscure other equally important facts: that despite the odds, dedicated educators and engaged parents do succeed in helping Native students achieve. We sought hope–and it turned out we didn’t need to look far. The expertise we need to reverse the numbers is already hard at work in Minnesota.”

MinnCAN interviewed Native leaders, educators, parents and students, and asked, “What’s working well?” MinnCAN also visited Top 10 Schools, where achievement data shows extraordinary success. The report includes ready-to-use professional development activities on the 11 tribal nations in Minnesota, and student artwork and writing. Narrative portraits detail what’s working to achieve success for Native students at:

  • Anishinabe Academy’s Ojibwe language immersion pre-K program (Minneapolis);
  • Churchill Elementary School (Cloquet, Minn.); and
  • Detroit Lakes Middle School.

Further, the report recognizes the momentum of recent legislative accomplishments–the creation of a permanent statewide Indian Education Director, mandated consultation with the Tribal Nations Education Committee and the annual statewide listening session on Indian education–and endorses the major themes from the Minnesota Office of Indian Education's 2013 report, ‘American Indian Education in Minnesota: Analytic Review of Key State and National Documents.’

“This report is a welcome departure from so much of what gets written about the Native community, which puts a discouraging focus on problems,” said Kelly Drummer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis-based Tiwahe Foundation. “By zeroing in on what's working for Native students–and there’s so much that's exciting and innovative–the MinnCAN report is reframing our conversation about the ‘achievement gap’ in a way that will allow us to move forward in a positive way and build on our successes.”

The report offers strength-based observations about what’s working. Among them:

  • Set high expectations for students and focus on their assets;
  • Integrate indigenous history, culture and languages;
  • Use assessment data proactively to intervene when students are struggling;
  • Create permanent collaborative agreements between schools 
and the Native community;
  • Have access to programs that support the education of
 Native teachers; and
  • Respond to needs articulated by Indian parent education committees.

Access the report and read the full recommendations.

For more information, images, or interviews with White or Daniel Sellers, MinnCAN executive director, contact Nicholas Banovetz at: 651-815-5999 or

* The Coalition of Communities of Color’s (Portland, Ore.) work, presented at the Northwest Area Foundation’s 2013 forum, “Organizing Communities of Color,” informed the report’s cohort graduation chart.

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About MinnCAN: Launched in 2011, MinnCAN: The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now is an education reform advocacy nonprofit. MinnCAN is a movement of nearly 9,000 Minnesotans–and growing–dedicated to creating the political will to enact smart public policies to ensure that every Minnesota child has access to a great public school. Learn more at


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