Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Donna C. Graham


The focus of this study was on how to help narrow the achievement gap between Native American students and their non-Native peers in an urban Oklahoma school district. A qualitative case study approach was used to answer the questions of how parents of Native American students perceive their children's academic success in reading and mathematics in Grade 1- Grade 12 and why they believe their children have consistently (or historically) performed below district, state, and national expectations in these subjects in an attempt to better understand the achievement gap. Progress reports, institutional reports, and standards-based test scores were indicative of the widening achievement gap between Native American students and their non-Native peers. Bourdieu's cultural capital theory supported by Epstein's model of parental involvement were used as the conceptual framework for this study. Six parents of Native American students in Grade 1– Grade 12 were selected as participants and were interviewed using open-ended, semistructured questions to gain insight and help to answer the research questions. The coding of collected data, an analysis of emergent themes and triangulation, peer debriefing, and member checks were all utilized as analytical procedures to ensure accuracy and credibility. Results from the study revealed that parents of Native American students perceive their students' academic success as a struggle and identify parental involvement, curriculum relatability, class size and communication among some of the barriers to their students' success. Implications for positive social change for this study included the potential to inform more effective teaching strategies for teachers who teach Native American students, inform their curriculum development, and foster the empowerment of Native American families.