Peer Reviewed Articles

In these scholarly articles, Martinez, as well as with Brayboy and Lomawaima cover the topic of education involving American Indian students underperforming in schools across the U.S. Throughout these two pieces of work, they explore why American Indian students are the lowest performing group of students in the country and introduce statistics to support this knowledge. Both articles address the steps that must be taken in order for American Indian students to succeed in academic settings.

The Problem: 

In Martinez’s work, she introduces research-based statistics attributing to American Indian students: only 46% of these students graduate high school, as compared to the national average of 89%, and only 17% of those American Indian students go on to higher education. Out of that 17%, only 11% of American Indian students in the US receive a college degree. Brayboy and Lomawaima also explore the reasons that more American Indian students don’t perform as well as their non-Native peers in school, and include graphs proving that reading scores among Native students over 15 years have barely increased. These statistics raise concerns about the overall success of American Indians in schools.


 American Indian students struggle to succeed in school for a number of reasons that these authors explore. They both being with the idea behind Indian boarding schools (where American Indian education started): the intent was to “Americanize” and assimilate young Native students into white culture. Trauma and other negative experiences that these students have encountered have continued to affect generations, including those around today and have done centuries of damage (Brayboy & Lomawaima, 147). Martinez includes “the top reasons why American Indian students drop out of school: (1) uncaring teachers, (2) curriculum designed for mainstream America, and (3) tracking into low achieving classes and groups” (Martinez, 202). There are many other reasons contribute to the high dropout rates and underachieving Native American students, including hostility in schools and a difficult school climate, disconnection from students and teachers of other races and ethnicities, being portrayed as victims rather than members of society, and low poverty rates that cause students to miss school and eventually drop out.

Where to go from here:

All three authors provide positive ideas as possible solutions to these problems. Martinez states, “developing an academic identity, and perceptions of social support systems are key factors” (Martinez, 204) in the success of these students. Brayboy and Lomawaima also say that American Indian students must “see themselves as academic achievers” (Brayboy & Lomawaima, 90) in order to succeed, and this will happen by providing a support system that will encourage them to become more involved in their education and communities, leading to an increased amount of opportunities. Administrators, teachers, and peers must make an effort to encourage these students and hold them to high expectations if they want to see success. They must be given opportunities to develop and learn. Engaging with communities and honoring tradition “are keys to a successful connection between schooling and education in the future” (Brayboy & Lomawaima, 91).


Brayboy, B. J., & Lomawaima, K. T. (2018). Why Don’t More Indians Do Better in School? The Battle between U.S Schooling 7 American Indian/Alaska Native Education. Daedalus, 147(2), 82-94. doi:10. 1162/DAED_a_00492

Martinez, Donna. (2014). School Culture and American Indian Educational Outcomes. Science Direct, Volume 116, 199-205. doi:10.1016/2014.01.194