Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



McCarty, T., Brayboy, B., Datnow, A., & Hamann, E. T., (2013). The Anthropology of Educational Persistence: What Can We Learn from Anthropology to Improve Educational Opportunities and Outcomes for Underserved Students? (Final Report). Unpubliished, commissioned study for the Education Credit Management Corporation (ECMC).


Commissioned by the Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) Foundation. Copyright (c) 2013 The Anthropology of Educational Persistence Thought Collective.


In the context of shifting demographics in which more than 50% of the U.S. student population now belongs to a group that formerly would have been classified as “minority,” this report provides evidence from anthropological research on the factors that promote or impede educational persistence, particularly among underserved groups who now constitute the “new majority.” Based on a thorough review of the literature, we offer five principles to guide future research, policy, and practice and offer illustrative examples of each principle. A key insight is that failure is not inevitable for historically underserved groups and that, given that, we must endeavor to make success the norm and thereby ameliorate ongoing disparities.