Lowering the High Native Student Dropout Rate

Improving Academic Performance of Native Kids

American Indian and Alaska Native students have a dropout rate twice the national average; the highest dropout rate of any United States ethnic or racial group. About three out of every ten Native students drop out of school before graduating from high school both on reservations and in cities. These kids are a most valuable resource, yet they are falling behind academically. Are there some tools we can give them to correct this? Yes, and I believe there are great approaches to learning that can help them excel.


There were 39 Native medical professionals that graduated from The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center 2015

This is an amazing talk by one of the most important researchers of developmental psychology and of what makes kids succeed in school, and in high school, and at college. Walter Mischel really gets it right. Oddly enough, what his research tells us turns out to be the same principle as  wówačhiŋtȟaŋka or perseverance (one of the 12 Lakota virtues).


Wówačhiŋtȟaŋka or perseverance is in the bottom right corner of the Sinte Gleska University Logo.

Luther Standing Bear

Ota Kte, (Luther Standing Bear) was a very patient man.


More information from Walter Mischel.



The Kipp Schools applied some of these ideas.



Simple Tools to Jump Start Academic Performance

Dr. Jerome Kagan of Harvard is another of the key researchers of developmental psychology. In this video clip, Dr. Kagan explains some simple techniques, simple tricks children and teens can use to improve their scholastic performance today. No, it does not involve cheating. 🙂

Learned Helplessness, Boredom, and Flow

Learned helplessness is giving up. In the context of learning it is when you feel that you are overwhelmed by something, it is too difficult, you get frustrated, in other words you hit a wall and give up. Basically, it is a mismatch between a problem and your skill set.


Plains Indian Sign Language for Give Up, the index finger his a hard object and then falls away.

Boredom occurs when we have too much control, the material is too easy, and we don’t feel challenged. Flow is when our skill set and the problem are well matched. We feel confidence in our own skilled effort. We overcome the challenge and feel a sense of accomplishment. Matching school curriculum to student’s abilities allows them to advance. Add some intermittent and temporary challenges, something unexpected and novel to pique interest to keep it interesting and fun.

Demand Better Schools: Native Kids Need Local Schools, Proper Facilities, and Culturally Based Education.


Education Activist Shannen Koostachin

There is inequitable funding for Native schools. This needs to improve for these kids to be able to meet the challenges in today’s world. There are many native kids that have to attend school far from home away from family and friends. These schools are often under funded and lack the basic essentials. Also, some of these schools do not provide a culturally based education leaving children confused about their identity, ignorant of their Native language, and short changed about their people’s history. This is a famous talk given by Shannen and her sister confronting the Canadian First Nations Education system.

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