While every other traditional category of historically disadvantaged students has made gains on measures of academic achievement over the past decade, performance for American Indian and indigenous Alaskan students has stalled or lost ground, according to a new policy brief from the Education Trust.
Between 2005 and 2011, Native American students were the only major ethnic group to demonstrate virtually no improvement in 4th grade reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, although the rate of improvement posted by white students was not significantly better. In 2005, American Indian and Alaska native students were performing better on the 4th grade reading NAEP than their black and Latino peers, but lost that lead to both groups by 2011, according to the brief.
The pattern for the 8th grade math NAEP between 2005 and 2011 was similar, when scores for all groups improved significantly faster than for Native American, African-American, and Latino students had significantly lower scores than Native American students in 2005, but by 2011, Latinos had significantly higher scores. African-American students’ scores remained significantly below that of Native American students, but less so. On another indicator—access to Advanced Placement courses in high school—American Indian and Alaska native students were the least likely to attend a school that offered even one of the rigorous, college-preparatory courses.
The study covers the vast majority of Native American students who are enrolled in regular public schools. Just 7 percent of the nation’s roughly 600,000 American Indian and Alaska native students attend Bureau of Indian Education schools.
A version of this article appeared in the August 21, 2013 edition of Education Week as Native American Students Trail Other Groups in NAEP Growth