American Indian and Alaskan native students are in an academic rut on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, according to the latest findings from a federal study.
The study, released this month, found Native American 4th graders significantly trailing their non-Indian peers in reading. A majority of 4th grade Indian students performed below the basic achievement level in that subject. In 8th grade, 61 percent of such students performed at the “basic” or “proficient” levels in NAEP reading, meaning they could recognize an essay narrator’s motivation, but on average could not form an opinion about a persuasive essay’s central issue.
In mathematics, the achievement gap between American Indian and other students has become more pronounced since 2005, according to the study by the National Center for Education Statistics. The math gap on NAEP has grown by roughly half an academic year’s progress from 2005 to 2011. Two-thirds of American Indian 4th graders performed at or above basic achievement in 2011. Of Native American students in 8th grade, more than half performed at the basic level.
Performance varied widely among the dozen states with individual reports in the study. Oklahoma was the only state in which Native American students outperformed the national average in both grades in reading and math. “That suggests to a policymaker that maybe there’s something they should take a look at” in Oklahoma, said NCES Commissioner Sean P. “Jack” Buckley.
A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2012 edition of Education Week as NAEP Math Gaps Widen for Native Americans