"Many of them can't write their name, they can't tie their shoe, they can't -- they don't know their alphabet, and so that starts out to be a hardship for them," Schroeder said.
Children speak neither English nor Yupik very well. They are caught between two worlds and two languages, a trait principal Lance Jackson sees in students of all grade levels.
"So now you have a kid who can't read and write in one language, and now picks up another one and can't read and write, and now they're illiterate in two," Jackson said. "So now you give them a test and they're saying, ‘What do you want us to do?'"
Class exam scores offer a glimpse of the larger problem. On the wall of one science lab is a list of students' grades -- the majority below average.
Tuluksak and the other two schools in the Yupiit School District are at Level 5 improvement status, which means that for several years their students' state test scores haven't met the standards.
Six percent of the district's students are proficient in math, versus the state average of 68 percent. The proficiency figure for reading and writing is 10 percent -- but the state average is nearly seven times higher.
Officials say the root of the problem may be from beyond school grounds, because they're living in an environment much different from the rest of the nation.
Jackson says there are terms on tests that may be easier for urban students to answer than those out in the bush. These are not the exact words on previous tests given in Alaska, but Jackson explains how environment can make a difference with familiarity.
"Ask a kid what a gutter is, ask a kid what a rainspout is, things on houses. Well, what's a gutter -- you see that on an NCLB (No Child Left Behind) test, well, that's not even relevant. You can throw that test question out. That's half of -- six, seven questions in any section -- that's half a test," Jackson said.
Another test for students is the conditions in the village. There's no sewage system or running water, and educators say those factors and other challenges are holding students back.
At night, you'll find kids running around freely with no supervision looking for something to do.
"Why point a finger to that child when it's not that child's problem in the beginning?" asks Dora Napoka, a mother who has lived in Tuluksak for 30 years.
"I just wish that drugs and alcohol would go away," she said.
Napoka knows of Tuluksak's unspoken struggles; answers to why kids behave the way they do, but that are hardly discussed.
They're words that won't come out of the children's mouths. Instead, a common excuse.
"They'll say, ‘Oh, I didn't have enough rest.' They wouldn't come up and say, ‘Oh they were gambling in my house all night till 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning and then I finally fall asleep at 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning,'" Napoka said.
The problem, she says, is these kids drag their negative feelings into the classroom.
Teachers say tardies, temper tantrums and trouble are not uncommon.
"What are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them that it's OK to go to the fiddling and the bingo and the all night gambling? I don't think so. That's not part of education. That's not even part of the Yupik culture," Napoka said.
It may be a clash of culture; it may be a passing down of bad habits; but its effects are transparent through the kids.
"When we see these kids, you know, we feel sorry for them. We want to say, ‘Where's mom or dad?' but then we think, ‘We know where mom and dad is we're not going to ask where mom and dad is,'" Napoka said.
Watch Part 2 of this series on the Channel 2 News Late Edition and KTUU.com to find out how factors outside school may affect students' performance in the Yupiit School District.
Contact Christine Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org