Within High Schools - - Influences on Retention among the Indigenous People of Northeast India
A qualitative case study of three high schools was conducted to identify and profile school practices employed in educating a traditionally low-achieving subpopulation in northeast India. By the considerably higher than average retention and graduation rates among their students who come from indigenous tribal communities, these schools stand out as effective. The study was centered on the following research questions: 1) What were the teaching practices that characterize three high schools with successful records of graduating (upwards of 100%) indigenous Northeast India tribal students? 2) How were these successful schools affected by the school leadership? A body of related literature provided the theoretical rationale and informed the researcher in collecting data, doing analysis, and processing interpretation. The researcher reviewed specific categories of literature focused on the following: dropout influences, effective teaching practices, school leadership, indigenous tribal life contexts, spirituality, and worldview of the peoples of Northeast India. The findings indicated that these three schools with low dropout rates reflected authentic and effective teaching practices that were student-friendly and based on a coherent mix of various principles of learning, instructional strategies, classroom management, and the personal dedication of the teaching faculties. Furthermore, the schools tried to create an atmosphere of social connectedness and community, based on the values of the indigenous people of that area. The school leadership was proactive in an effort to sustain the sense of community through a variety of school activities and cooperation with parents. The researcher found that the ethos of the schools motivated students to focus on their studies in view of a better economic future. A contextualized pedagogy that took into account the background and learning styles of a wide variety of students helped the students to focus on their learning in the various academic disciplines. Pedagogical practices that promoted academic achievement in concert with indigenous values sustained the interest of the students and moved them to actively involve themselves in the life of the school. The leadership provided the necessary vision and direction to make the objectives and goals of the school understood and obtainable. The visible presence of the principal and his/her affirming interaction also helped to maintain the motivation of the community on all levels of operation. The findings of this research have implications for educational practice, policy, teacher preparation and school leadership in the context of rural India.