A Review and Analysis of the Research on Native American Students

This article reviews recent research on the achievement gaps of Native American students compared to white, Latino, and black students, focusing primarily on empirically rigorous research studies. An important finding drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of kindergarten students (ECLS-K) is that "Native American children start kindergarten with lower reading skills than white, black, and Hispanic children…about 27 percentile points lower than white students, about 10 percentile points below that of Hispanic children and 12 percentile points below that of black children."  However, NAEP results indicate that by fourth grade many of these deficits decrease significantly. The authors posit explanations for these differences and call for larger sample sizes of Native American students in future research studies. 

Content Comments 

In this article, the authors examine a broad number of recent studies focusing on the achievement of Native American students, finding that a very large proportion of the studies have weak empirical designs. Therefore the findings from many of these studies are supported at best by weak evidence and may only be applicable to specific Native American tribes where the research was conducted. However, the authors also examine results from two empirical studies with large sample sizes drawn from diverse geographical areas: the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten students (ECLS-K); and a 2003 NAEP study. Their conclusions, as described in the summary, are reasonable and make an important contribution to the study of Native American students. Communications quality is fairly typical of a journal article, including tables and figures that are easy to understand. Utility should be quite high based on the authors' expertise, the studies reviewed, and the researchers' recommendations.