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Asians/Pacific Islanders: Education Issues

The API community faces educational issues similar to other minority groups, including the need for adequate funding for schools serving minority and disadvantaged students, as well as other issues with a special impact on the community:

  • Student achievement gaps need to be aggressively addressed. For example, the percentage of APIs age 25 and older with a high school education in the 2000 census ranged, depending on the Asian American ethnic group, from half the national average of 19.6 percent to nearly three times the national average.

  • There is a need for more educational research focusing on individual API ethnic groups in order to better understand how each group of students is experiencing school and what steps need to be taken to support each group.

  • With multiple languages spoken within the API community, there is a need for greater accommodation of English language learner students on assessment tests and in the classroom, as well as the allocation of more resources to involve parents who are non-native English speakers.

  • A greater effort should be made to recruit and retain API educators. While over 4 percent of the K-12 student population is API, APIs constitute less than 2 percent of the teaching population.

  • Programs should be increased to prepare educators to work with diverse students, and API history, culture, and issues should be covered in school curriculums.

NEA Resources

Student Achievement

Dropout Prevention: A Tale of Three Sisters
There is one fundamental question for the Pele sisters this year: Will they stay in school, or won’t they? Dive into our first story in a series on dropout prevention. (NEA Today, November 2007)

Newcomer Centers Help Asian Pacific Islander Students Transition into American Public Schools
Shirley Lum teaches English for Second-Language Learners (ESLLs) at McKinley High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. A child of immigrants—her parents are Chinese—Lum is well aware of the struggles newcomers encounter, but her classroom is filled with students facing even higher hurdles than a language barrier. ('NEA Today,' May 2007)

A Report on the Status of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Education: Beyond the “Model Minority” Stereotype
This report is one in a series of eight reports on the status of underserved groups in education (others are American Indians and Alaska Natives; Blacks; women and girls; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students; English language learners; and students with disabilities). (NEA 2005) (PDF, 604 KB, 46pp)

Lesson Ideas

Celebrating Asian and Pacific-Island Heritage
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is celebrated each May to commemorate the arrival (in May 1843) of the first Japanese immigrants to the United States. Recognition began in June 1977 when Representatives Frank Horton (New York) and Norman Y. Mineta (California) called for Asian/Pacific Heritage Week. Hawaii senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

Both bills passed and in 1978 President Jimmy Carter signed the resolution. President George H. W. Bush in 1990 expanded the celebration from a week to a month.

Presenting Asian Folktales
Transform Asian folktales into Reader's Theater scripts. (Grades 2-12)

Build Listening Skills With Asian Folktales
Use Asian folktales to test students' listening comprehension. (Grades K-8)

Asian Americans: Where Do They Come From?
Grades 3-12 learn about some of the places from which Asian Americans come.

Famous Asian Americans
Match the names of famous Asian Americans to their accomplishments. (Grades 3-12)

Asian American Booklist
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May), NEA's Read Across America has released a bilingual reading list of titles appropriate for K-12 students.

Asian History Resources
Preparing a unit on Asian history? Well, here are some Web sites that may help you.

Resources from Other Organizations

Asian American Students Struggling under NCLB (PDF)
The method used under NCLB to classify Asian students fails to recognize that Asian-American learners are not homogeneous in terms of academic performance. Despite the "model minority" myth, some groups -- especially ELLs aren't getting the resources they need to succeed, according to a new Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund report. 


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