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Jueta McCutchan, Robert W. Simmons, III., Ed.D.

The Use of Pedagogy in the American Samoa Classroom

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The established mandates from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 impacted the education system in the U.S., which also affected the U.S. Pacific Island jurisdictions. Some of the provisions included the need to adhere to specific criteria regarding acceptable materials for curriculum and instruction as well as mandates for English-only classrooms. Despite the changes that arose following the NCLB, such as increased funding and resources along with more stringent academic benchmarks, many Pacific American students continue to struggle academically.

This study was designed to explore how the NCLB affected the methodologies commonly being employed in classrooms in American Samoa. In particular, the researchers wanted to explore teacher experiences with regards to the use of Samoan pedagogy and its relevance in today’s largely Eurocentric curriculum. The authors also sought to explore teacher perceptions of challenges being experienced by students in American Samoa. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 teachers (3 of Filipino descent; 9 of Samoan descent), who were recruited from various public and private elementary and high schools in American Samoa. Four themes which arose from the analysis included: (1) emphasis upon the necessity of establishing positive student-teacher relations; (2) parent and community involvement; (3) lack of sufficient staff development; (4) the importance of culturally relevant material; and (5) use of the Samoan language in the classroom. Overall, cultural context and language were viewed by teachers as strong influences for Samoan students and their academic success.

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