Native Culture & Language in the Classroom Observation

November 19, 2019
Topics:
Child Care, Early Head Start, Head Start, Home Visiting
Projects:
American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AI/AN FACES) | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Cover of Native Culture & Language in the Classroom Observation
Download report (pdf)
  • File Size 237kb
  • Pages 8
  • Published 2019

Introduction

The American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015 (AI/AN FACES 2015) is the first national descriptive study of children and families enrolled in Head Start programs operated by federally recognized tribes. Region XI Head Start provides grants to federally recognized American Indian or Alaska Native tribes, tribal governments, or consortia. These programs incorporate their unique history, community traditions, and beliefs into their operations and integrate language and culture into the delivery of services to children and families. AI/AN FACES 2015 was informed by a workgroup comprised of Region XI Head Start directors, researchers from universities and Mathematica Policy Research (which conducted the study), and federal officials from the Administration for Children and Families (which funded the study).

Native culture and language are important components of the Head Start experience in Region XI, and therefore a particular focus of the study was to document the Native language and cultural experiences that children attending Region XI programs have in their classrooms. Workgroup members, in particular the Region XI Head Start directors, urged that the study capture the cultural experiences in the classroom in addition to using more common measures of classroom experiences. An observational measure of culture and language in Native classrooms did not exist, so the study team collaborated with Workgroup members to develop an observational measure of Native culture and language in the classroom. The Native Culture & Language in the Classroom Observation (NCLCO) records the types of culturally significant materials that surround children in Region XI Head Start classrooms and can capture information on materials’ use. The Workgroup provided suggestions and feedback on types of items to include in the NCLCO, as well as examples of each item type listed in the final measure.

Purpose

The purpose of this report is to share the Native Culture & Language in the Classroom Observation (NCLCO), which is a measure that records the types of culturally significant materials that surround children in Region XI Head Start classrooms.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • An observational measure of culture and language in Native classrooms did not exist, so the study team collaborated with Workgroup members to develop the NCLCO.
  • The NCLCO records the presence or absence of a particular item, but does not detail the quantity or depth of use of items existing within a classroom.
  • The language and cultural practices questions ask whether Native language use occurred in the classroom and, if so, whether it was used in instruction or in conversation.
  • The questions also ask if storytelling following a Native oral tradition occurred.

Methods

The NCLCO was administered in AI/AN FACES 2015 during a four hour observation. The NCLCO notes the presence or absence of a particular item. It does not detail the quantity or depth of use of items existing within a classroom. For example, a classroom with 100 cultural books would score the same as a classroom with one book. The language and cultural practices questions ask whether Native language use occurred in the classroom and, if so, whether it was used in instruction or in conversation. The questions also ask if storytelling following a Native oral tradition occurred. These items capture only whether these experiences occurred and not how frequently they occurred. Therefore, a classroom that used Native language in all lessons during the observation would score the same as a classroom that included Native language in just one lesson. To our knowledge, AI/AN FACES 2015 is the only study so far to have used the NCLCO, but other studies have adapted the measure to capture the cultural and language experiences in classrooms. The measure may be further refined before the NCLCO is used in the next round of AI/AN FACES in 2019.

Citation

The AI/AN FACES 2015 Workgroup*. (2019). “Native Culture & Language in the Classroom Observation”, OPRE Report #2019-84, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

*Developed by a working group comprised of the following members (alphabetical): Jessica Barnes-Najor, Meryl Barofsky, Sara Bernstein, Patty Brown, Ann Cameron, Angie Godfrey, Jacki Haight, Lizabeth Malone, Laura McKechnie, Michelle Sarche, and Maria Woolverton. For a list of all AI/AN FACES 2015 Workgroup members, please see https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/research/project/american-indian-and-ala....

Glossary

AI/AN FACES 2015
American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey 2015
NCLCO
Native Culture & Language in the Classroom Observation
Region XI Head Start
Head Start programs operated by federally recognized AI/AN tribes for children and families.
Last Reviewed: November 15, 2019