Indian Elementary-Secondary Education: Programs, Background, and Issues




Indian Elementary-Secondary Education:
Programs, Background, and Issues

Updated July 28, 2020
Congressional Research Service
https://crsreports.congress.gov
RL34205




Indian Elementary-Secondary Education: Programs, Background, and Issues

Summary
The federal government provides elementary and secondary education and educational assistance
to Indian children, either directly through federal y funded schools or indirectly through
educational assistance to public schools that predominantly receive state and local funding. Direct
education is provided by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) in the U.S. Department of the
Interior (DOI), through elementary and secondary schools funded by the BIE. Federal educational
assistance to public schools is provided chiefly through programs of the U.S. Department of
Education (ED). Federal Indian education programs are distinguished by their targeting of
members (or descendants of members) of Indian tribes, which is distinct from targeting
individuals who identify by race/ethnicity as American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). Most of
this Indian education population attends public schools. Most federal data are based on
race/ethnicity, however, which complicates analysis of results for the population served by federal
Indian education programs.
The Bureau of Indian Education-funded education system for Indian students includes 169
schools and 14 “peripheral dormitories” for students attending public schools nearby. Schools and
dorms may be operated by the BIE itself or by tribes and tribal organizations. A number of BIE
programs provide funding and services, supplemented primarily by set-asides for BIE schools
from ED programs. Federal funding for Indian students in public schools flows to school districts
chiefly through ED programs, with a smal addition from a single BIE program. Most of the ED
funds are authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the
Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA).
For decades, two perennial Indian elementary and secondary education issues—the poor
condition of BIE facilities and poor academic outcomes from Indian children—have confronted
Congress. Other issues related to Indian elementary and secondary education that Congress and
Administrations have attempted to address are the incidence of violence and alcohol and drug use
among Indian youth, the differential administration of discipline in public schools, and the
adequacy of funding.
For at least 40 years, BIE school facilities have been characterized by a high rate of deficiencies
and health and safety concerns. Reports from students and faculty suggest that conditions affect
learning and enrollment. Weaknesses in the management of BIE school facilities and insufficient
funding have contributed to the facilities’ conditions.
Students in BIE schools and AI/AN students in public schools have comparatively poor academic
achievement. Since the 1970s, federal policies to address this issue include permitting greater
tribal control and influence through tribal y operated BIE schools and cultural y relevant
educational curriculum and language instruction, and encouraging collaboration between states,
local educational agencies, and public schools and tribes and parents of Indian students. ESEA
standards and accountability requirements also aim to promote the academic achievement of
students. With respect to BIE schools, Congress has wrestled to find a BIE and/or tribal
administrative structure that wil support greater academic achievement of BIE students.

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Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Brief History of Federal Indian Education Activities ............................................................. 2
Students Served by Federal Indian Education Programs ........................................................ 7
Status of Indian and American Indian/Alaska Native Education.............................................. 8
BIE Schools and Students ........................................................................................... 9
Public Schools and AI/AN Students............................................................................ 13
Federal Indian Elementary and Secondary Education Programs and Services ......................... 14
Statutory Authority for BIE Elementary and Secondary Schools ..................................... 14
Snyder Act of 1921 ............................................................................................. 14
Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (ISDEAA)............... 15
Education Amendments Act of 1978...................................................................... 15
Tribally Controlled Schools Act (TCSA) of 1988 .................................................... 15

BIE Elementary and Secondary Education Programs..................................................... 16
Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP) ........................................................... 16
Student Transportation ........................................................................................ 16
Early Child and Family Development (FACE) ........................................................ 17
Tribal Grant Support Costs (Administrative Cost Grants) ......................................... 17
Education Program Enhancements ........................................................................ 17
Residential Education Placement Program ............................................................. 17

Juvenile Detention Education ............................................................................... 18
Tribal Education Department Grants ..................................................................... 18
Johnson O’Mal ey Program (BIE Assistance to Public Schools) ................................ 18
Facilities Operations ........................................................................................... 18
Facilities Maintenance ........................................................................................ 19
BIA School Facilities Repair and Construction and Faculty Housing .......................... 19
BIE and BIA Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations ................................. 19
U.S. Department of Education Indian Elementary and Secondary Education Programs ....... 23
ESEA Title I-A Grants to Local Educational Agencies.............................................. 23
ESEA Title I-B State Assessment Grants ................................................................ 24
ESEA Title II-A Supporting Effective Instruction .................................................... 24
ESEA Title III-A English Language Acquisition ...................................................... 24
ESEA Title IV-B 21st Century Community Learning Centers ..................................... 24
ESEA Title VI-A Indian Education Programs.......................................................... 24
ESEA Title VI-C Alaska Native Education Equity ................................................... 25
ESEA Title VII Impact Aid .................................................................................. 25
IDEA Part B Special Education Grants to States...................................................... 25
IDEA Part C Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities ................... 26
MVHAA Education for Homeless Children and Youths............................................ 26
Perkins Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP) ........... 26

ED Elementary and Secondary Indian Education Funding.............................................. 27
Issues in Indian Education .............................................................................................. 33
Poor Academic Achievement and Outcomes ................................................................ 33
Native Language Instruction...................................................................................... 33

Discipline, Violence, Crime, and Alcohol and Drug Use ................................................ 35
Broadband and Computer Access ............................................................................... 36
BIE School Issues.................................................................................................... 37
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Federal Administration and Organization ............................................................... 37
Academic Accountability Under ESEA.................................................................. 39
BIE School Construction and Repair ..................................................................... 40
Public School Indian Education – Johnson O’Mal ey (JOM) Program Freeze and
Modernization ...................................................................................................... 43

Figures
Figure 1. Number of Indian Students Enrolled in BIA, Public, and Private Schools 1900-
1975........................................................................................................................... 4
Figure 2. Appropriations for BIE Operations and BIA Education Construction, FY2011-
FY2020 .................................................................................................................... 20
Figure 3. Distribution of ED Funding for Indian Education Programs: FY2011-FY2020 .......... 28

Tables
Table 1. Number of BIE-Funded Schools and Peripheral Dormitories: FY2020....................... 10
Table 2. BIE Schools and Peripheral Dormitories and Students: Number and Percent, by
State, Average: SY2016-2017 to SY2018-2019 ............................................................... 11
Table 3. Average Scores in NAEP Reading and Math, by Assessment, and Type of
School: 2011 and 2015 ................................................................................................ 12
Table 4. Average Public School Scores in NAEP Reading and Math, by Assessment and
Student Race/Ethnicity: 2019 ....................................................................................... 14
Table 5. Appropriations for BIE Elementary-Secondary Education Programs and BIA
Education Construction: FY2011-FY2020...................................................................... 21
Table 6. Estimated Funding for Department of Education’s Indian Elementary-Secondary
Education Programs, in Descending Order of FY2015 Funding: FY2011-FY2020 ................ 29
Table 7. Selected Federal Programs that Support Native Language Instruction........................ 34

Contacts
Author Information ....................................................................................................... 44
Acknowledgments......................................................................................................... 44

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Indian Elementary-Secondary Education: Programs, Background, and Issues

Introduction
The federal government provides child development, elementary and secondary education, and
educational assistance to Indian1 children, in a federal school system and in public school systems
that predominantly receive state and local funding. The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)2 in the
U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) oversees the federal y funded BIE system of elementary
and secondary schools. The BIE system is funded primarily by the BIE but also receives
considerable funding from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The public school systems of
the states receive federal funding from ED, the BIE, and other federal agencies.
Federal provision of educational services and assistance to Indian children is based not on
race/ethnicity but primarily on their membership in, eligibility for membership in, or familial
relationship to members of Indian tribes, which are political entities. Federal Indian education
programs are intended to serve Indian children who are members of, or, depending on the
program, are at least second-degree descendants of members of, one of the 574 tribal entities
recognized and eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) by
virtue of their status as Indian tribes.3 The federal government considers its Indian education
programs to be based on its trust relationship with Indian tribes, a responsibility derived from
federal statutes, treaties, court decisions, executive actions, and the Constitution (which assigns
authority over federal-Indian relations to Congress).4 Despite this trust relationship, most Indian
education programs are discretionary and not an entitlement like Medicare.
Indian children served by public elementary and secondary school systems are also eligible for
the federal government’s general programs of educational assistance, but such programs are not
Indian education programs and wil not be discussed in this report.
This report provides a brief history of federal Indian education programs, a discussion of students
served by these programs, an overview of programs and their funding, and brief discussions of
selected issues in Indian education.

1 In this report, the term Indian means members of federally recognized Indian entities, which include tribal entities
within the contiguous 48 states and Native entities within the state of Alaska (the latter term includes, but is not limited
to, Native Villages, Alaska Natives, Eskimos [Inuit and Yupik], and Aleuts of Alaska). T he term Indian does not
include Native Hawaiians or other Native Pacific Islanders or indigenous people of Puerto Rico.
2 T he BIE was formerly the Office of Indian Education Programs (OIEP) in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). In
2006, the Secretary of the Interior moved the OIEP out of the BIA and made it an agency equivalent to the BIA,
renaming it the BIE. Both bureaus are under the Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs. For education programs, this report
uses “BIE” for current information and programs and “BIA” for historical periods.
3 T he list of federally recognized tribal entities is published in the Federal Register. T he most recent list is U.S.
Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Indian Entities Recognized by and Eligible to Receive Services
from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs,” 85 Federal Register 5462-5467, January 30, 2020.
4 Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court have characterized the role of the federal government with respect to Indian
tribes as involving a trust relationship. Having identified the trust relationship, the Court has upheld congressional
power to provide special treatment for Indians, declaring t hat “ [a]s long as the special treatment can be tied rationally to
the fulfillment of Congress’ unique obligation toward the Indians, such legislative judgments will not be disturbed”
(Morton v. Mancari, 417 U.S. 535, 555 (1974)). However, the Court has nev er interpreted the trust relationship to
require any definite action on the part of Congress. When called upon to decide whether an administrative agency has
breached its trust obligation or when called upon to enforce the trust obligation against an agenc y of the Executive
Branch, moreover, the Court confines its review to whether the agency has a trust obligation imposed upon it by statute.
See, for example, United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206 (1983).
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Brief History of Federal Indian Education Activities
U.S. government concern with the education of Indians began with the Continental Congress,
which in 1775 appropriated funds to pay the expenses of 10 Indian students at Dartmouth
College.5 Through the rest of the 18th century, the 19th century, and much of the 20th century,
Congress acted out of concern for what at the time was considered by some as the civilization of
the Indians, meaning their instruction in Euro-American agricultural methods, vocational skil s,
and habits, as wel as in literacy, mathematics, and Christianity. The aim of governmental efforts
was to change Indians’ cultural patterns into Euro-American ones—in a word, to assimilate
them.6
From the Revolution until after the Civil War, the federal government provided for Indian
education either by directly funding teachers or schools on a tribe-by-tribe basis pursuant to treaty
provisions or by funding religious and other charitable groups to establish schools where they saw
fit. The first Indian treaty providing for any form of education for a tribe—in this case,
vocational—was in 1794.7 The first treaty providing for academic instruction for a tribe was in
1803.8 Altogether over 150 treaties with individual tribes provided for instructors, teachers, or
schools—whether vocational, academic, or both—either permanently or for a limited period of
time.9 The first U.S. statute authorizing appropriations to “promote civilization” among Indian
tribes was the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act of 1793,10 but the Civilization Act of 1819 was
the first authorization and appropriation specifical y for instruction of Indian children near
frontier settlements in reading, writing, and arithmetic.11 Civilization Act funds were expended
through contracts with missionary and benevolent societies. Besides treaty schools and “mission”
schools, some additional schools were initiated and funded directly by Indian tribes. The state of
New York also operated schools for its Indian tribes. The total number of such treaty, mission,
tribal, and New York schools reached into the hundreds by the Civil War.12
After the Civil War, the U.S. government began to create a federal Indian school system with
central policies and oversight, and with schools funded, constructed, and operated by DOI’s
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).13 In 1869, the Board of Indian Commissioners—a federal y

5 Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, Vol. II, 1775, May 10-September
20
(Washington: GPO, 1905), pp. 176-177. Congress’s stated intent was to keep the students from returning to their
homes in British Canada.
6 Francis Paul Prucha, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians (Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 1984), pp. 135 -136.
7 T reaty with the Oneida, Etc., Art. III, December 2, 1794, 7 Stat. 47, 48. T he United States agreed not only to construct
gristmills and sawmills for the Oneida, T uscarora, and Stockbridge tribes but also to send persons to instruct the tribes
in their use. See also Alice C. Fletcher, Indian Education and Civilization, U.S. Bureau of Education Special Report,
Sen. Ex. Doc. 95, 48th Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington: GPO, 1888), p. 162.
8 T reaty with the Kaskaskia, Art. 3d, August 13, 1803, 7 Stat. 78, 79.
9 Nell Jessup Newton, ed.-in-chief, Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law 2005 Edition (Newark, NJ: LexisNexis
Matthew Bender, 2005), p. 1356. Congress ended treaty -making with Indian tribes in 1871.
10 §9, Act of March 1, 1793, Chap. 19, 2nd Cong., 2nd sess., 1 Stat. 329, 331. As civilizing factors, the section
specifically authorizes domestic animals, farming equipment, goods, money, and resident agents, but not teachers or
schools.
11 Act of March 3, 1819, Chap. 85, 15th Cong., 2nd sess., 3 Stat. 516. Previous appropriations for Indian affairs would
have funded education only for children of tribes that signed treaties providing for education.
12 Fletcher, Indian Education and Civilization, p. 197.
13 Szasz, Margaret Connell, and Ryan, Carmelita, “American Indian Education,” in Wilcomb E. Washburn, vol. ed.,
Handbook of North Am erican Indians, Vol. 4, Indian -White Relations (Washington: Smithsonian, 1988), p. 290.
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appointed board that jointly controlled with DOI the disbursement of certain funds for Indians14—
recommended the establishment of government schools and teachers.15 In 1870, Congress passed
the first general appropriation for Indian schools not provided for under treaties.16 The initial
appropriation was $100,000, but both the amount appropriated and the number of schools
operated by the BIA rose swiftly thereafter.17 The BIA created both boarding and day schools,
including off-reservation industrial boarding schools on the model of the Carlisle Indian
Industrial School (established in 1879).18 Most BIA students attended on- or off-reservation
boarding schools.19 BIA schools were chiefly elementary and vocational schools.20
An organizational structure for BIA education began with a Medical and Education Division
(1873-1881), the appointment of a superintendent of education in 1883, and creation of an
education division in 1884.21 The education of Alaska Native children, however, along with that
of other Alaskan children, was assigned in 1885 to DOI’s Office of Education, not the BIA.22
Mission, tribal,23 and New York state schools also continued to operate, and the proportion of
school-age Indian children attending a BIA, mission, tribal, or New York school rose slowly.24
A major long-term shift in federal Indian education policy, from federal schools to public schools,
began in FY1890-FY1891 when the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, using his general authority
in Indian affairs, contracted with a few local public school districts to educate nearby Indian
children for whose schooling the BIA was responsible.25 After 1910, the BIA pushed to move
Indian children to nearby public schools and to close BIA schools.26 Congress provided some
appropriations to pay public schools for Indian students, although they were not always suffic ient
and moreover were not paid where state law entitled Indian students to public education.27

14 T he Board of Commissioners was created by the April 10, 1869, act (16 Stat. 40).
15 Fletcher, Indian Education and Civilization, p. 167.
16 An Act Making Appropriations for the Current and Contingent Expenses of the Indian Department ..., Act of July 15,
1870, Chap. 296, 41st Cong., 2nd sess., 16 Stat. 335, 359. See also U.S. American Indian Policy Review Commission,
T ask Force Five: Indian Education, Report on Indian Education, Committee Print (Washington: GPO, 1976), p. 69.
17 Paul Stuart, Nations Within a Nation: Historical Statistics of American Indians (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987),
pp. 135, 165.
18 Founded by Army Captain Richard H. Pratt on an unused Army base in Carlisle, PA, the school’s model of educating
Indian students in an off-reservation manual labor boarding school, away from students’ families and cultures, became
well-known. Pratt, its first superintendent, publicized the school and its emphasis on assimilation. Carlisle was funded
through Indian appropriations bills and private donations. It closed in 1918. See Szasz and Ryan, “American Indian
Education,” pp. 290-291.
19 Prucha, Great Father, pp. 815-816.
20 Szasz and Ryan, “American Indian Education,” pp. 290 -294.
21 Edward E. Hill, comp., Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians
(Washington: National Archives and Records Service, 1981), p. 24. See also Szasz and Ryan, “ American Indian
Education,” pp. 290, 293.
22 Hill, Guide to Records, p. 112; and Szasz and Ryan, “American Indian Education,” p. 297. Authorization for Alaska
Native education was in §13, Act of May 17, 1884, Chap.53, 48 th Cong. 1st sess., 23 Stat. 24, 27-28.
23 After 1870, most tribal schools were in Oklahoma, operated by one of the “Five Civilized T ribes” (Cherokee,
Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole), as they were then called.
24 Szasz and Ryan, “American Indian Education,” p. 291.
25 U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
[Fiscal Year 1890-1891]
(Washington: GPO, 1891), p. 71.
26 Prucha, Great Father, pp. 823-825.
27 Prucha, Great Father, pp. 824-825.
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Indian Elementary-Secondary Education: Programs, Background, and Issues

By 1920, more Indian students were in public schools than in BIA schools.28 Figure 1 displays
the changing number of Indian students in BIA, public, and other schools from 1900 to 1975. The
shift to public schools accompanied the increase in the percentage of Indian youths attending any
school, which rose from 40% in 1900 to 60% in 1930.29 Comparable data are no longer available.
Figure 1. Number of Indian Students Enrolled in BIA, Public, and Private Schools
1900-1975

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Report on BIA Education. Final Review Draft
(Washington: Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1988), Tables 1 and 8, pp. 15, 27.
Notes: BIA data include students in peripheral dormitories but exclude students in Alaska BIA schools. Pu blic
school data are for Indian students living in BIA administrative or service areas.
In 1921, Congress passed the Snyder Act30 in order to authorize al programs the BIA was then
carrying out. Most BIA programs at the time, including education, lacked authorizing legislation.
The Snyder Act continues to provide broad and permanent authorization for federal Indian
programs.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the BIA began expanding some of its own schools’ grade levels to
secondary education. Under the impetus of the Meriam Report and New Deal leadership, the BIA

28 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Indian Education Programs, Report on BIA
Education: Excellence in Indian Education Through the Effective Schools Process
, Final Review Draft, March 1988, p.
15 (T able 1).
29 Marlita A. Reddy, ed., Statistical Record of Native North Americans (Detroit: Gale Research, 1993), p. 141. T he
percentages are of Indians aged 5 to 20 and are based on Census data. Szasz and Ryan state, “In 1928 almost 90 percent
of all Indian children were enrolled in some school.” (“ American Indian Education,” p. 294). T he discrepancy in
percentages may be related to differing age ranges and differing definitions of the Indian population.
30 Act of November 2, 1921, 42 Stat. 208, as amended; 25 U.S.C. §13.
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also began to shift its students toward its local day schools instead of its boarding schools, and, to
some extent, to move its curriculum from solely Euro-American subjects to include Indian culture
and vocational education.31 In addition, in 1931, responsibility for Alaska Native education was
transferred to the BIA.32 In 1934, to simplify the reimbursement of public schools for educating
Indian students, Congress passed the Johnson-O’Mal ey (JOM) Act,33 authorizing the BIA to
contract with the states, except Oklahoma, and the territories for the education of Indians (and
other services to Indians).34
The first major non-DOI federal funding for Indian education in the 20th century began in 1953,
when the Federal Assistance for Local Educational Agencies Affected by Federal Activities
program,35 now known as Impact Aid, was amended to cover Indian children eligible for BIA
schools.36 Impact Aid pays public school districts to help fund the education of children in
“federal y impacted areas.” Further changes to the Impact Aid law in 1958 and the 1970s
increased the funding that was al ocated according to the number of children on Indian lands.37
Congressional appropriations for Impact Aid have increased, while the JOM funding has
decreased.
In 1966 Congress added further non-DOI funding for Indian education by amending the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965,38 the major act authorizing federal
education aid to public school districts. The amendments set aside funds for BIA schools from the
program authorizing assistance to educational agencies for the education of children of low -
income families (now referred to as ESEA Title I-A); School Library Resources, Textbook, and
Instructional Materials (Title II); and Supplementary Educational Centers and Services (Title
III).39
A congressional study of Indian education in 196940 that was highly critical of federal Indian
education programs led to further expansion of federal non-DOI assistance for Indian education,
embodied in the Indian Education Act of 1972, now known as ESEA Title VI.41 The Indian
Education Act established the Office of Indian Education (OIE) within the Department of Health,
Education and Welfare (later the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human

31 Szasz and Ryan, “American Indian Education,” pp. 294 -295; Prucha, Great Father, pp. 836-839, 977-983; and
Margaret Connell Szasz, “W. Carson Ryan: From the Meriam Report to the Indian New Deal,” in Education and the
Am erican Indian: The Road to Self-Determ ination Since 1928
, 2nd ed. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press,
1977), pp. 16-36. The Meriam Report was an influential study of federal Indian affairs undertaken by the Institute for
Government Research (Lewis A. Meriam, ed., The Problem of Indian Adm inistration (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press,
1928)).
32 Szasz and Ryan, “American Indian Education,” p. 297.
33 P.L. 73-167, Act of April 16, 1934, 48 Stat. 596, as amended; 25 U.S.C. §5342 et seq.
34 Szasz and Ryan, “American Indian Education,” p. 295.
35 P.L. 81-874, Act of September 30, 1950, 64 Stat. 1100, as amended; currently codified as T itle VII of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
36 P.L. 83-248, Act of August 8, 1953, 67 Stat. 530.
37 Larry LaCounte, Tribal Perspective of the Impact Aid Program (Washington: National Indian Policy Center, 1993),
pp. 3-5.
38 P.L. 89-10, Act of April 11, 1965, 79 Stat. 27, as amended.
39 §102, Elementary and Secondary Education Amendments of 1966, P.L. 89 -750, Act of Nov 3, 1966, 80 Stat 1191.
40 U.S. Congress, Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee, Special Subcommittee on Indian Education, Indian
Education: A National Tragedy, A National Challenge
(Washington: GPO, 1969).
41 T itle IV of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, P.L. 92 -318, Act of June 23, 1972, 86 Stat. 235, 334, as
amended; currently codified as ESEA T itle VI-A.
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Services) and authorized OIE to make grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) with Indian
children.42 The OIE was the first organization outside of DOI (since DOI’s birth in 1849) that was
created expressly to oversee a federal Indian education program.
Following the termination period of the 1950s and 1960s intended to end the trust relationship
between the federal government and Indian tribes, federal Indian education policy began to move
toward greater Indian control of federal Indian education programs, in both BIA and public
schools. In 1966, the BIA signed its first contract with an Indian group to operate a BIA school
(the Rough Rock Demonstration School on the Navajo Reservation).43 In 1975, through
enactment of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA; P.L. 93-
638),44 Congress authorized al Indian tribes and tribal organizations, such as tribal school boards,
to contract to operate their BIA schools. Three years later, in Title XI, Part B, of the Education
Amendments of 1978 (P.L. 95-561), Congress required the BIA “to facilitate Indian control of
Indian affairs in al matters relating to education.”45 This act created statutory standards and
administrative and funding requirements for the BIA school system and separated control of BIA
schools from BIA area and agency officers by creating a BIA Office of Indian Education
Programs (OIEP) and assigning it supervision of al BIA education personnel.46 Ten years later,
the Tribal y Controlled Schools Act (TCSA; P.L. 100-297) of 198847 authorized grants to tribes
and tribal organizations to operate their BIA schools. These laws provide that grants and self-
determination contracts and compacts be for the same amounts of funding as the BIA would have
expended on operation of the same schools.48
Legislation also promoted Indian control in public schools. The ESEA Title VI (discussed earlier)
requires that public school districts applying for its grants prove adequate participation by Indian
parents and tribal communities in program development, operation, and evaluation.49 The 1972
Indian Education Act also amended the Impact Aid program to mandate Indian parents’
consultation in school programs funded by Impact Aid.50 In 1975, the ISDEAA added to the JOM
program a requirement that public school districts with JOM contracts have either a majority-
Indian school board or an Indian parent committee that has approved the JOM program.51 Final y,
the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994 (P.L. 103-382, Section 9112(b)) and the Every
Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95) have expanded eligibility under the current ESEA
Title VI formula grant program to Indian tribes, Indian organizations, and Indian community-
based organizations.52

42 T he OIE was transferred to the new Department of Education in 1980.
43 Prucha, Great Father, p. 1102.
44 P.L. 93-638, Act of January 4, 1975, 88 Stat. 2203, as amended; 25 U.S.C. §5301 et seq.
45 P.L. 95-561, T itle XI, Part B, Act of November 1, 1978, 92 Stat . 2143, 2316, as amended. T he quote is from §1130
of the original act (now §1131 of the amended act).
46 Prucha, Great Father, p. 1146.
47 P.L. 100-297, Title V, Act of April 28, 1988, 102 Stat. 130, 385, as amended; 25 U.S.C., Chap. 27.
48 Provisions are currently codified at 25 U.S.C. §2007 and 25 U.S.C. §2503.
49 §421(a) of the 1972 act; currently codified at ESEA §6114(c)(4).
50 P.L. 92-318, §411(a),(c)(2), 86 Stat. 334-339; currently codified, as amended, at ESEA §7004. See also Szasz and
Ryan, “American Indian Education,” p. 298.
51 25 U.S.C. §5346.
52 Indian organizations are defined in 25 C.F.R. Section 263.20 as organizations that “(1) are legally established—(i)
by tribal or inter-tribal charter or in accordance with state or tribal law; and (ii) with appropriate constitution, by -laws,
or articles of incorporation; (2) include in its purposes the promotion of the education of Indians; (3) are controlled by a
governing board, the majority of which is Indian; (4) if located on an Indian reservation, operate with the sanction or by
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Starting in the 1960s, the number of schools in the BIA school system began to shrink through
administrative consolidation and congressional closures. For example, al BIA-funded schools in
Alaska were transferred to the state of Alaska between 1966 and 1985, removing an estimated
120 schools from BIA responsibility.53 The number of BIA-funded schools and dormitories stood
at 233 in 193054 and 277 in 1965,55 but fel to 227 in 1982 and to 180 in 1986 before rising to 185
by 1994;56 it currently stands at 183.57 Since the 1990s, Congress has limited both the number of
BIA schools and the grade structure of the schools.58 The number of Indian students educated at
BIA schools has numbered approximately 48,000 over the last 15 years.59 In 2006, the Secretary
of the Interior separated the BIA education programs in the Office of Indian Education Programs
from the rest of the BIA and placed them in a new Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) under the
Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs.60
Students Served by Federal Indian Education
Programs
Different federal Indian education programs serve different, though overlapping, sets of Indian
students. Their student data also differ (and overlap). The eligibility criteria are not based on self-
identified race/ethnicity categories. Rather, eligibility is based on the recognition of the political
status of the groups from which the students are members or descendants of members. In
addition, not every school or school district that enrolls at least one Indian student receives
funding from a federal program that is designed to serve Indian students or that al ots funds based
on numbers of Indian students.
The BIE school system, for instance, serves students who are members of federal y recognized
Indian tribes or who are at least one-fourth degree Indian blood descendants of members of such
tribes, and who reside on or near a federal Indian reservation or are eligible to attend a BIE off-
reservation boarding school.61 Many Indian tribes al ow less than one-fourth degree of tribal or

charter of the governing body of that reservation; (5) are neither organizations or subdivisions of, nor under the direct
control of, any institution of higher education; and (6) are not agencies of state or local government.” Indian
com m unity-based organizations
are defined in ESEA Section 6112(d)(2) as organizations that “ (A) are composed
primarily of Indian parents, family members, and community members, tribal government education officials, and
tribal members, from a specific community; (B) assist in the social, cultural, and educational development of Indians in
such community; (C) meet the unique cultural, language, and academic needs of Indian students; and (D) demonstrate
organizational and administrative capacity to manage the grant.”
53 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, Department of the Interior and Related Agencies
Appropriations for 1994
, hearings, part 8, 103rd Cong., 1st sess. (Washington: GPO, 1993), p. 168.
54 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Report on BIA Education: Excellence in Indian Educa tion
Through the Effective Schools Process
. Final Review Draft (Washington: T he Department, 1988), p. 17.
55 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Branch of Education, Fiscal Year 1965 Statistics
Concerning Indian Education
(Haskell, Kansas: Haskell Institute Publications Service, 1966), p. 15.
56 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Indian Education Programs, Fiscal Year 1995
Annual Education Report
(Washington: T he Bureau, no date), p. vi.
57 U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Education, Budget Justifications Fiscal Year 2021 (hereinafter referred to as
the FY2021 Budget), p. BIE-OIEP-7.
58 T he limitations are in the annual BIE appropriations acts.
59 Budget Justifications FY2003–FY2021.
60 U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, Budget Justifications Fiscal Year 2008, pp. IA-EDUC-5 to -6.
61 25 U.S.C. §2007(f). “One-fourth degree” is the equivalent of one “full-blood” grandparent out of four. In certain
circumstances, non-Indian students may attend BIE schools.
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Indian blood for membership, so many BIE Indian students have less than one-fourth Indian
blood. Separately, the BIE’s JOM program, according to its regulations, serves students in public
schools who are recognized by the BIA as eligible for BIA services.62 It is commonly estimated
that BIE schools serve less than 10% of Indian students.
The ED ESEA Title VI-A programs, on the other hand, serve a broader set of students: (1)
members of federal y recognized tribes and their first and second degree descendants; (2)
members of two types of nonfederal y recognized tribes, state-recognized tribes and tribes whose
federal recognition was terminated after 1940, and their first and second degree descendants; (3)
members of an organized Indian group that received a grant under the program as it was in effect
before the passage of the Improving America’s Schools Act of 1994;63 (4) Eskimos, Aleuts, or
other Alaska Natives; and (5) individuals considered to be Indian by the Secretary of the Interior,
for any purpose.64 Eligible students must be enrolled in public schools or BIE schools. Public
school districts are estimated to general y serve over 90% of Indian students.
Another major ED program, the Impact Aid program, funds public schools whose students reside
on “Indian lands” or are federal y connected children.65 The students residing on Indian lands for
whom Impact Aid is provided need not, however, be Indian.
Status of Indian and American Indian/Alaska
Native Education
Although there is no source for the status of Indian student educational achievement national y,
the educational environment and achievements of BIE students and American Indian/Alaska
Native (AI/AN) students are reported. Students who identify their race/ethnicity as AI/AN may
not be members or descendants of members of federal y recognized Indian tribes, and not al
members of such tribes may identify as AI/AN. For example, ED’s National Center for Education
Statistics (NCES), which collects and analyzes student and school data and produces the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP),66 publishes reports on AI/AN students’
characteristics and academic achievements. NCES data are based on race/ethnicity (except most
data on BIE students), so the data wil include students who identify as AI/AN even though they
are not members of tribes and do not fal into the eligibility categories of federal Indian education
programs. NCES’s race/ethnicity-based AI/AN student population is not the same as the student
population served by federal Indian education programs. The two populations overlap, but the
degree of overlap has not been determined. NCES data based on race/ethnicity, then, cannot be
assumed to accurately represent the Indian student population intended to be served by federal
Indian education programs.

62 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Education Contracts Under Johnson O'Malley Act,” 83
Federal Register
12301-12303, March 21, 2018. Currently, the regulations (25 C.F.R. §273.12) state that Indian
students must be one-fourth or more degree Indian blood and recognized as eligible for BIA services. In 1990, the
United States District Court for the District of Nevada stated that this regulatory requirement was too restrictive. Since
that Court ruling, DOI has required only membership in a federally recognized tribe.
63 P.L. 103-382, Act of October 20, 1994, 108 Stat. 3518.
64 ESEA, §7151(3).
65 25 U.S.C. §7703(a)(1).
66 NAEP is often known as the nation’s report card.
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BIE Schools and Students
The BIE funds a system consisting of elementary and secondary schools, which provide free
education to eligible Indian students, and “peripheral dormitories” (discussed below).67 In 2014
and before, the BIE system was administered by a director and headquarters offices in
Washington, DC, and Albuquerque, NM; three associate deputy directors (ADDs) in the west,
east, and Navajo area; and 22 education line offices (ELOs) across Indian Country. ELOs
provided leadership, technical support, and instructional support for the schools and peripheral
dorms.68 Starting in June 2014, the Secretary began restructuring the BIE in an effort to increase
tribal capacity to operate schools and improve educational outcomes. The current structure
maintains a director in Washington, DC, who oversees a deputy bureau director and three
ADDs—one serving schools serving the Navajo nation, one serving the remaining BIE operated
schools, and one serving the remaining tribal y operated schools. Fourteen Education Resource
Centers (ERC), renamed and restructured ELOs, report to the ADDs.69
The BIE-funded school system includes day and boarding schools and peripheral dormitories.
The majority of BIE-funded schools are day schools, which offer elementary or secondary classes
or combinations thereof and are located on Indian reservations. BIE boarding schools house
students in dorms on campus and also offer elementary or secondary classes, or combinations of
both levels, and are located both on and off reservations. Approximately one-third of BIE schools
are K-8, one-third are K-12, and another one-third are K-6.70 Peripheral dormitories house
students who attend nearby public or BIE schools; these dorms are also located both on and off
reservations.
Elementary and secondary schools funded by the BIE may be operated directly by the BIE, by
tribes and tribal organizations through grants authorized under the Tribal y Control ed Schools
Act (TCSA) of 1988, or by tribes and tribal organizations through contracts authorized under the
Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) of 1975. (See the discussion
of these two acts in “Statutory Authority for BIE Elementary and Secondary Schools,” below.) In
addition, some schools are operated through a cooperative agreement with a public school
district.71 In accordance with state law, the three BIE schools in Maine receive state funding.72
There are eight charter schools co-located at BIE schools.73

67 BIE also funds post-secondary institutions and programs not discussed in this report. A small number of BIE-funded
elementary-secondary schools also receive funding as public schools from their states.
68 FY2013 Budget, p. IA-BIE-40.
69 Sally Jewel, Secretary of the Interior to Restructuring the Bureau of Indian Education, Order No. 3334, June 12,
2014; and U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education, National Directory, updated April 2019.
70 U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education, National Directory, updated April 2019.
71 T he T urtle Mountain Elementary and Middle schools in North Dakota are operated by a cooperative agreement
between a public school district and the BIE. T he Standing Rock Community School is operated through a Joint
Powers Agreement between the Standing Rock T ribal Grant School and the Fo rt Yates Public School District (See U.S.
Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies,
Am erican Indian and Alaska Native Public Witness Hearing , T estimony of T he Standing Rock Sioux T ribe, 115 th
Cong., 1st sess., May 17, 2017).
72 Lawrence O. Picus, Allan Odden, and Michael Goetz, et al., An Independent Review of Maine’s Essential Programs
and Services Funding Act: Part 1
, Lawrence O. Picus and Associates, Presented to the Maine Legislature’s Joint
Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, North Hollywood, CA, April 1, 2013.
73 T he schools are Blackwater Community School in Coolidge, AZ; Kin Dah Lichi'i Olta’ (Kinlichee) in Ganado, AZ;
Little Singer Community School in Winslow, AZ; Nazlini Community School in Ganado, AZ; Seba Dalkai Boarding
School in Winslow, AZ; Shonto Preparatory School in Shonto, AZ; Hannahville Indian School in Wilson, MI; and
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BIE funds 169 schools and 14 peripheral dorms. Table 1 shows the number of BIE-funded
schools and peripheral dorms, by type of operator. The majority of BIE-funded schools are
tribal y operated.74
Table 1. Number of BIE-Funded Schools and Peripheral Dormitories: FY2020
Schools and Peripheral
Tribally
BIE-
Dormitories
Operated
Operated
Total
Total
130
53
183
Elementary/secondary schools
117
52
169
Day schools
92
26
118
Boarding schools
25
26
51
Peripheral dormitories
13
1
14
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Education, Budget Justifications Fiscal Year 2021.
In the mid-1990s, Congress became concerned that adding new BIE schools or expanding
existing schools would, in circumstances of limited financial resources, “diminish funding for
schools currently in the system.”75 As a consequence, the total number of BIE schools and
peripheral dorms, the class structure of each school, and co-located charter schools has been
limited by Congress. Through annual appropriation acts from FY1994 through FY2011, Congress
prohibited BIE from funding schools that were not in the BIE system as of September 1, 1996,
and from FY1996 through FY2011 prohibited the use of BIE funds to expand a school’s grade
structure beyond the grades in place as of October 1, 1995. Appropriations acts since FY2000
have prohibited the establishment of co-located charter schools.
Beginning in FY2012, Congress has begun to loosen restrictions on the size and scope of the BIE
school system. A provision first enacted in the FY2012 appropriations act provides an exception
for schools and school programs that were closed and removed from the BIE school system
between 1951 and 1972 and whose respective tribe’s relationship with the federal government
was terminated.76 As a result of the FY2012 exception in July 2012, BIE began funding grades 1-
6 of Jones Academy in Hartshorne, OK. Jones Academy was previously funded by BIE as a
peripheral dormitory for students attending schools in grades 1-12, and by the local public school
district as a grades 1-6 elementary school. The appropriations acts since FY2014 have authorized
the Secretary to support the expansion of one additional grade to better accomplish the BIE’s
mission, and appropriations acts since FY2018 have authorized the expansion of more than one
elementary grade in schools with a K–2 grade structure on October 1, 1996. As a result, in 2014
the BIE approved funding for the tribal y funded 6th grade of the otherwise BIE-funded
Shoshone-Bannock Junior High.77 In addition, BIE approved the K-2 Blackwater Community
School to offer a 3rd grade in July of 2016 and 4th-5th grades in July of 2018.78 Successively,

Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe Academy in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.
74 FY2021 Budget.
75 U.S. Congress, Senate Appropriations Committee, Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations
Bill, 1995
, report to accompany H.R. 4602, 103rd Cong., 2nd sess., S.Rept. 103-294 (Washington: GPO, 1994), p. 58.
76 T he Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74).
77 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies,
Am erican Indian and Alaska Native Public and Outside Witness Hearing , Mr. Nathan Small, Chairman, Shoshone-
Bannock T ribes of the Ft. Hall Reservation T estimony, 114th Cong., 1st sess., March 24, 2015.
78 Blackwater Community School-Akimel O'Otham Pee Posh Charter School Inc., https://bwcs.k12.az.us/ (accessed
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appropriations acts since FY2015 have authorized the BIE to approve satel ite locations of BIE
schools at which an Indian tribe may provide language and cultural immersion educational
programs as long as the BIE is not responsible for the facilities-related costs. Accordingly, in
AY2015-2016 the Nay-Ah-Shing School in Minnesota opened the Pine Grove Satel ite Learning
Center using broadband and reducing transportation times and costs.79
Only Indian students attend the BIE school system, with few exceptions. In SY2019-2020, BIE-
funded schools and peripheral dorms served approximately 46,000 Indian students in 23 states.80
From SY2016-2017 to SY2018-2019, there were, on average, fewer than 200 students in
attendance in approximately 63% of BIE schools and dormitories.81
BIE schools and dormitories are not evenly distributed across the country. From SY2016-2017 to
SY2018-2019, approximately 66% of BIE schools and dormitories and, on average,
approximately 66% of BIE students were located in 3 of the 23 states with schools: Arizona (28%
of students), New Mexico (21%), and South Dakota (16%).82 Table 2 shows the distribution of
BIE schools and students across the 23 states. There are no BIE schools or students in Alaska, a
circumstance directed by Congress (see “Brief History of Federal Indian Education Activities,
above).83
Table 2. BIE Schools and Peripheral Dormitories and Students: Number and Percent,
by State, Average: SY2016-2017 to SY2018-2019
Descending order by the number of students
Schools and Dorms
Students
State
Number
Percentage
Number
Percentage
Arizona
54
30%
11,148
28%
New Mexico
44
24%
8,184
21%
South Dakota
22
12%
6,460
16%
North Dakota
11
6%
3,659
9%
Mississippi
8
4%
2,193
6%
Washington
8
4%
1,718
4%
Oklahoma
5
3%
1,137
3%
North Carolina
1
1%
1,037
3%
Wisconsin
3
2%
874
2%
Minnesota
4
2%
571
1%
California
2
1%
465
1%

May 29, 2020).
79 Holland & Knight, “Launching a T ribal Satellite School Expansion Plan.”
80 FY2021 Budget, pp. BIE-GS-1 and BIE-OIEP-10.
81 Percentage calculated by CRS based on FY2021 Budget, Appendix 1. T he three-year averages for student counts are
based on the average daily attendance counts that are calculated for each year.
82 FY2021 Budget, Appendix 1. T he three-year averages for student counts are based on the average daily attendance
counts that are calculated for each year.
83 Annual appropriation acts for the Depart ment of the Interior regularly include an administrative provision prohibiting
BIA expenditures to support operation of elementary and secondary schools in Alaska (except through the Johnson -
O’Malley program); see, for example, P.L. 110-161 (121 Stat. 2113).
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Schools and Dorms
Students
State
Number
Percentage
Number
Percentage
Michigan
2
1%
463
1%
Montana
3
2%
387
1%
Oregon
1
1%
322
1%
Maine
3
2%
275
1%
Florida
2
1%
270
1%
Iowa
1
1%
251
1%
Wyoming
1
1%
237
1%
Utaha
2
1%
234
1%
Idaho
2
1%
205
1%
Louisiana
1
1%
103
<1%
Nevada
2
1%
94
<1%
Kansas
1
1%
33
<1%
Grand Totalb
183
100%
39,284
100%
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Education, Budget Justifications Fiscal Year 2021, Appendix 1.
Notes: Student counts are based on the three-year average daily membership, which counts students
attendance during the entire year.
a. Student counts and number of schools and dorms exclude Sevier-Richfield Public Schools in Utah, which
receive BIE funds for the education of out-of-state students residing at the BIE-funded Richfield Dormitory.
b. Totals may not add due to rounding.
One measure of a school system’s quality and the academic achievement of students is the
average score of students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading
and mathematics assessments.84 Table 3 indicates that average scores on the NAEP assessments
for students in BIE schools were below those of students in public schools. For example, on the
8th grade 2015 NAEP reading assessment the average score for BIE school students was 236
while the average for public school students was 264. Data on BIE schools after 2015 are not
available.
Table 3. Average Scores in NAEP Reading and Math, by Assessment, and Type of
School: 2011 and 2015

Average NAEP Score
Grade 4
Grade 8
Grade 4
Grade 8
Type of School
Reading
Reading
Math
Math
2015




BIE schools
NRa
236
NRa
252
Public schools
221
264b
240
281b

84 T he NAEP, directed by the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest nationally representative and continuing
assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. Since NAEP assessments are
administered uniformly across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric.
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Average NAEP Score
Grade 4
Grade 8
Grade 4
Grade 8
Type of School
Reading
Reading
Math
Math
2011




BIE schools
182
234
213
250
Public schools
220b
264b
240b
283b
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics,
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), National Indian Education Study (NIES), 20 11 and 2015
Reading and Mathematics Assessments, available at https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/ndecore/xplore/nies.
Notes: NAEP assessment results for reading and mathematics are reported as average scores on a 0 -500 scale.
a. NR means reporting standards not met.
b. The value is significantly higher (at the 0.05 level) than the value for BIE schools.
Public Schools and AI/AN Students
There were approximately 51 mil ion public school students enrolled in elementary and
secondary schools in fal 2017, and approximately 498,000 (1.0%) were AI/ANs. In fal 2017 (the
latest data available), approximately 90% of public school AI/AN students lived in 11 states.
These states, presented in descending order of their number of public school AI/AN students, are
Alaska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Arizona, Wyoming,
Washington, Oregon, and Minnesota. A greater than average proportion of AI/AN students live in
poverty and require services for students with disabilities. The percentage of AI/AN children
under age 18 in families living in poverty was 34% in 2018. In SY2017–2018, the percentage of
children ages 3–21 who were served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA) as a percentage of total enrollment in public schools was highest for AI/AN students
(18%), the highest among al racial/ethnic groups. The percentage of 16- through 24-year-old
AI/AN students who were not enrolled in school and had not earned a high school credential was
10% in 2018, compared to 5% for al 16- through 24-year-olds.85
The educational achievement of AI/AN students in public schools can be deduced from the
average scores of AI/AN and non-AI/AN students on the NAEP. Table 4 presents results of the
2019 NAEP for AI/AN and non-AI/AN students in grades 4 and 8. The average NAEP score for
AI/AN students is consistently lower than that for white, Hispanic, and Asian students.

85 U.S. Department of Education, Digest of Education Statistics (hereinafter Digest of Education Statistics), T ables
102.60, 203.50, 203.70, 203.75, and 219.80 (Accessed May 29, 2020).
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Table 4. Average Public School Scores in NAEP Reading and Math, by Assessment
and Student Race/Ethnicity: 2019

Average NAEP Score
Student
Grade 4
Grade 8
Grade 4
Grade 8
Race/Ethnicity
Reading
Reading
Math
Math
AI/ANa
204
249
228
263
White
229b
271b
249b
291b
Black
203
244b
224b
259b
Hispanic
208b
251
231b
268b
Asian
239b
284b
263b
313b
Native Hawai an/Other
209b
252
230
263
Pacific Islander
Two or more races
225b
266b
243b
285b
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics,
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Data Explorer, available at http://nces.ed.gov/
nationsreportcard/naepdata/.
a. AI/AN means American Indian/Alaska Native.
b. The value is significantly different (at the 0.05 level) than the value for AI/AN students.
Federal Indian Elementary and Secondary
Education Programs and Services
Federal Indian elementary and secondary education programs serve Indian elementary and
secondary students in public schools, private schools, and the BIE system. Except for one BIE
program, public schools do not general y receive BIE funding. Public schools instead receive
most of their federal assistance for Indian education through the U.S. Department of Education.
BIE-funded schools, on the other hand, receive funding both from the BIE and from ED. The BIE
estimates that it provides about 76% of BIE-funded schools’ overal federal funding, and ED
provides 22%.86 This section of the report profiles first the BIE programs and second those ED
programs that provide significant funding for Indian education.
Statutory Authority for BIE Elementary and Secondary Schools
Currently, BIE-funded schools, dorms, and programs are administered under a number of statutes.
The key statutes are summarized here.
Snyder Act of 192187
This act provides a broad and permanent authorization for federal Indian programs, including for
“[g]eneral support and civilization, including education.” The act was passed because Congress
had never enacted specific statutory authorizations for most BIA activities, including BIA
schools. Congress had instead made detailed annual appropriations for BIA activities. Authority

86 FY2021 Budget, p. BIE-OIEP-8. T he remainder is provided by other federal agencies.
87 Act of November 2, 1921, 42 Stat. 208, as amended; 25 U.S.C. §13.
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for Indian appropriations in the House had been assigned to the Indian Affairs Committee after
1885 (and in the Senate to its Indian Affairs Committee after 1899). Rules changes in the House
in 1920, however, moved Indian appropriations authority to the Appropriations Committee,
making Indian appropriations vulnerable to procedural objections because they lacked authorizing
acts. The Snyder Act was passed in order to authorize al the activities the BIA was then carrying
out. The act’s broad language, however, may be read as authorizing—though not requiring—
nearly any Indian program, including education, for which Congress enacts appropriations.
Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (ISDEAA)88
ISDEAA, as amended, provides for tribal administration of certain federal Indian programs,
including BIA and BIE programs. The act al ows tribes to assume some control over the
management of BIE-funded education programs by negotiating “self-determination contracts” or
Title IV “self-governance compacts” with BIE. Under a self-determination contract, BIE transfers
to tribal control the funds it would have spent for the contracted school or dorm, so the tribe may
operate it. Tribes or tribal organizations may contract to operate one or more schools.89 As of
April 2019, no BIE schools were funded through an ISDEAA contract.90
Education Amendments Act of 197891
Title XI of this act, as amended, “declares” federal policy on Indian education and establishes
requirements and guidelines for the BIE-funded elementary and secondary school system. As
amended, the act covers academic accreditation and standards, a funding al ocation formula, BIE
powers and functions, criteria for boarding and peripheral dorms, personnel hiring and firing, the
role of school boards, facilities standards, a facilities construction priority system, and school
closure rules, among other topics. It also authorizes several BIE grant programs, including
administrative cost grants for tribal y operated schools (described below), early childhood
development program grants (also described below), and grants and technical assistance for tribal
departments of education.
Tribally Controlled Schools Act (TCSA) of 198892
TCSA added grants as another means, besides ISDEAA contracts, by which Indian tribes and
tribal organizations may operate BIE-funded schools. The act requires that each grant include al
requested funds that BIE would have al ocated to the school for operation, administrative cost
grants, transportation, maintenance, and ED programs. Because ISDEAA contracts were found to
be a more cumbersome means of Indian control of schools, most tribal y operated schools are
grant schools.93

88 P.L. 93-638, act of January 4, 1975, 88 Stat. 2203, as amended; 25 U.S.C. §5301 et seq.
89 BIE’s formula funding for schools is excluded from “self-governance compacts” (25 U.S.C. §5363(b)(4)(B)).
90 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education, National Directory, updated December 2018 and April 2019.
91 P.L. 95-561, T itle XI, Part B, Act of November 1, 1978, 92 Stat. 2143, 2316, as amended; 25 U.S.C., Chap. 22 (25
U.S.C. §2000 et seq.).
92 P.L. 100-297, Title V, Act of April 28, 1988, 102 Stat. 130, 385, as amended; 25 U.S.C., Chap. 27.
93 Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law 2005 Edition , p. 1361.
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BIE Elementary and Secondary Education Programs
Funding for and operation of BIE-funded schools are carried out through a number of different
programs. The major BIE funding programs for operations are forward-funded—that is, the BIE
programs’ appropriations for a fiscal year are used to fund the school year that begins during that
fiscal year.94 Forward funding in the case of elementary and secondary education programs was
designed to al ow additional time for school officials to develop budgets in advance of the
beginning of the school year. These forward-funded appropriations are specified through
provisions in the annual appropriations bil and other statutory provisions.95
Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP)96
The Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP) is the formula-based grant program through
which congressional appropriations for BIE-funded schools’ academic (and, if applicable,
residential) operating costs are al ocated among the schools. ISEP grant funds are the primary
funding for basic and supplemental educational programs for Indian students attending BIE-
funded schools. In addition, ISEP grant funds pay tuition to Sevier Public Schools in Utah for
out-of-state Indian students living in the nearby BIE Richfield peripheral dormitory. The ISEP
al ocation formula, although authorized under the Education Amendments of 1978, is specified
not in statute but in federal regulations. The formula is based on a count of student “average daily
membership” (ADM) that is weighted to take into account schools’ grade levels and students’
residential-living status (e.g., in boarding schools or peripheral dorms) and is then supplemented
with weights or adjustments for gifted and talented students, language development needs,
supplemental education programs, and a school’s size. The final weighted figure is cal ed the
“weighted student unit” (WSU). A three-year WSU average is calculated for each school and
national y. Each school receives a portion of the ISEP appropriation that is the same proportion
that the school’s three-year WSU average is to the national three-year average WSU.97
Before al ocation under the funding formula, part of ISEP funds are set aside for program
adjustments, contingencies, and appeals. In recent years, program adjustments have funded safety
and security projects, behavior intervention programs, targeted education projects to increase
academic achievement, police services, parental participation projects, technical assistance on
effective teaching practices for at-risk students, and school staff capacity with respect to budget
and programming. For FY2021, the funds are intended to hire behavioral health counselors at off-
reservation boarding schools.98
Student Transportation
Student transportation funds provide for buses, fuel, maintenance, and bus driver salaries and
training, as wel as certain commercial transportation costs for some boarding school students.
Because of largely rural and often remote school locations, many unimproved and dirt roads, and
the long distances from children’s homes to schools, transportation of BIE students can be

94 Federal fiscal years (FY) begin on October 1 and end on the following September 30. School years (SY) begin on
July 1 (three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year) and end the following June 30. Hence, BIE appropriations for
FY2012 (October 1, 2011-September 30, 2012) were used to fund SY2012-2013 (July 1, 2012-September 30, 2013).
95 For example, see 25 U.S.C. §2010(a) and §2506(a).
96 25 U.S.C. §2007.
97 25 C.F.R. Part 39, Subparts A-C.
98 FY2021 Budget, p. BIE-OIEP-12.
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expensive. Student transportation funds are distributed on a formula basis, using commercial
transportation costs and the number of bus miles driven (with an additional weight for
unimproved roads).99
Early Child and Family Development (FACE)
BIE’s early childhood development program provides grants to tribes and tribal organizations for
services for pre-school Indian students and their parents.100 The program includes early childhood
education for children under six years old, and parenting skil s and adult education for their
parents to improve their employment opportunities. The grants are distributed by formula among
applicant tribes and organizations who meet the minimum tribal size of 500 members. In recent
years, the program has served over 2,000 adults and 2,000 children annual y.101
Tribal Grant Support Costs (Administrative Cost Grants)
Tribal grant support costs,102 formerly known as administrative cost grants, pay administrative
and indirect costs for tribal y operated TCSA-grant schools. Administrative costs for BIE-
operated schools are funded through BIE program management appropriations. By providing
assistance for direct and indirect administrative costs that may not be covered by ISEP or other
BIE funds, administrative cost grants are intended to encourage tribes to take control of their
schools. These are formula grants based on an “administrative cost percentage rate” for each
school, with a minimum grant of $200,000. For the first time in FY2016, appropriations fully
funded the statutorily determined grant amounts without the need for a ratable reduction.
Education Program Enhancements
Education Program Enhancements al ow the BIE discretion to provide targeted improvements
and interventions. Examples of activities funded in recent years include supporting BIE
reorganization efforts, providing leadership training and professional development, funding the
Sovereignty in Indian Education (SIE) Enhancement program, and developing partnerships with
tribal y controlled colleges. In addition, funding has been used to develop tribal education
departments.
Residential Education Placement Program
The Residential Education Placement program ensured that eligible Indian students with
disabilities or social or emotional needs received an appropriate education in the least restrictive
environment and as close to home as possible. Services included physical and occupational
therapy, counseling, and alcohol and substance abuse treatment. In SY2008-2009, the BIE served
59 institutionalized students.103 The program was last funded in FY2011.

99 25 C.F.R. Part 39, Subpart G.
100 25 U.S.C. §2019.
101 FY2021 Budget, pp. BIE-OIEP-14.
102 25 U.S.C. §2008.
103 U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, Budget Justifications Fiscal Year 2011. p. IA-EDU-21.
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Juvenile Detention Education
The Juvenile Detention Education program supports educational services for children in BIA-
funded detention facilities. This is not a forward-funded program. The program was funded in
FY2007-FY2011 and has now been funded since FY2016.
Tribal Education Department Grants104
The Secretary is authorized to make grants and provide technical assistance to tribes for the
development and operation of tribal departments of education (TEDs) for the purpose of planning
and coordinating al educational programs of the tribe. Beginning in FY2015, funds have been
awarded to promote tribal control and operation of BIE-funded schools on reservations. Funds
have also been awarded to begin restructuring school governance, build capacity for academic
success, and develop academical y rigorous and cultural y relevant curricula.
Johnson O’Malley Program (BIE Assistance to Public Schools)105
Under the Johnson O’Mal ey (JOM) program, BIE contracts with tribal organizations, states,
LEAs, and Indian corporations to meet the unique and specialized educational needs of eligible
Indian students in public schools and previously private schools controlled by a tribe or tribal
organization. Eligible Indian students, according to BIE regulations, are members of federal y
recognized tribes or students who have at least one-fourth degree blood from a member of a
federal y recognized tribe.106 Most JOM funds are distributed through tribal contractors—88% as
of FY2012.107 Prospective contractors must have education plans that have been approved by an
Indian education committee made up of a majority of Indians or the parents of Indian students.
Funds are to be used for supplemental programs, such as tutoring, other academic support, books,
supplies, Native language classes, cultural activities, summer education programs, after-school
activities, or a variety of other education-related needs. JOM funds may be used for general
school operations only when a public school district cannot meet state educational standards or
requirements without them, and enrollment in the district is at least 50% eligible Indian
students.108 This is not a forward-funded program.
Facilities Operations
This program funds the operation of educational facilities at al BIE-funded schools, including the
two BIE postsecondary schools, and dorms. Operating expenses may include utilities, supplies,
equipment, custodians, trash removal, maintenance of school grounds, minor repairs, and other
services, as wel as monitoring for fires and intrusions. This is not a forward-funded program.
These funds are available at the beginning of the fiscal year for a period of 24 months. In FY2019
and FY2020, ISDEAA Section 105(l) facilities lease costs were funded through facilities
operations.109

104 25 U.S.C. §2020.P.L. 95-561, as added by P.L. 107-110.
105 25 U.S.C. §452.
106 25 C.F.R. §273.112.
107 FY2013 Budget, p. IA-BIE-31.
108 25 C.F.R. Part 273.126.
109 FY2021 Budget, p. BIE-OIEP-16.
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Facilities Maintenance
This program funds preventive, routine cyclical, and unscheduled maintenance for al school
buildings, equipment, utility systems, and ground structures, including those at the two BIE
postsecondary schools. Like facilities operations funds, the funds are available at the beginning of
the fiscal year for a period of 24 months. Appropriations for facilities maintenance were
transferred from the BIA Construction account to the BIE account in FY2012.
BIA School Facilities Repair and Construction and Faculty Housing
The BIA funds repair, improvement, and construction activities for BIE schools, school facilities,
and employee housing. Funds are distributed through the following programs:
 The Replacement School Construction program replaces entire school campuses
based on a priority list of schools in need of construction.
 The Replacement Facility Construction program replaces single academic related
buildings.
 The Facilities Improvement and Repair program funds major and minor facilities
improvement, facility condition assessments, targeted projects, and compliance
projects.
 The Employee Housing Repair program funds major repairs of 1,797 BIA-
maintained employee housing located near some BIE schools.110
Construction and repair may be administered either by the BIA or by tribes under the ISDEAA or
the TCSA. In order to prioritize projects and guide expenditures, the BIA maintains a
comprehensive condition assessment within its Facilities Management System.
BIE and BIA Elementary and Secondary Education Appropriations
As il ustrated in Figure 2 in nominal dollars, total BIA and BIE spending on elementary-
secondary education and construction has increased 36% over the 10-year period, from $767
mil ion to $1.044 bil ion.111 In constant FY2020 dollars, total BIA and BIE spending on
elementary-secondary education and construction has increased 16% over the same 10-year
period.112 In nominal dollars, appropriations for ISEP formula funds have risen 6% over the same
period, from $390 mil ion in FY2011 to $415 mil ion in FY2020. Appropriations over the same
period for other education programs have risen 61%, from $237 mil ion in FY2011 to $381
mil ion in FY2020 in nominal dollars. Most of the increase is attributable to increased
appropriations for Tribal Grant Support Costs and transferring appropriations for facilities
maintenance from the BIA Education Construction account to the BIE Elementary-Secondary
Education account. BIA education construction appropriations in nominal dollars have risen 77%,
from $141 mil ion in FY2011 to $248 mil ion in FY2020 despite the facilities maintenance
appropriation account transfer.

110 FY2021 Budget, p. BIE-CON-ED-7.
111 T otals for the BIE elementary-secondary education program were calculated by CRS.
112 FY2020 dollars calculated by U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CPI Inflation Calculator,
available at https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm (accessed June 3, 2020).
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Figure 2. Appropriations for BIE Operations and BIA Education Construction,
FY2011-FY2020
(in current dol ars)
1,200
1,000
s
800
raloD fo 600
snoiliM 400
200
0
FY2011
FY2013
FY2015
FY2017
FY2019
Fiscal Year
ISEP Formula Funds
BIA Education Construction
Other Education

Source: Figure prepared by CRS based on U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Budget
Justifications and Performance Information, Fiscal Years
2007-2019; and U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of
Indian Education, Budget Justifications and Performance Information, Fiscal Years 2020-2021.
Notes: BIA Education Construction includes a smal amount of funds for BIA postsecondary institutions. The
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5) appropriated $292 mil ion for replacement
school construction and facilities improvement and repair.

Indian Affairs (the budgetary combination of BIA and BIE functions) appropriations for
elementary and secondary education are divided between program funds, expended through the
BIE, and construction and related spending carried out through the BIA. Table 5 shows detailed
appropriations for BIE programs and BIA education construction for FY2011-FY2020.

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Table 5. Appropriations for BIE Elementary-Secondary Education Programs and BIA Education Construction: FY2011-
FY2020
(current dol ars in thousands)

FY2011
FY2012
FY2013
FY2014
FY2015
FY2016
FY2017
FY2018
FY2019
FY2020
BIE Elementary-Secondary
596,987
644,781
610,027
636,720
656,092
667,721
715,695
720,805
726,552
753,531
Education
Elementary/Secondary (forward-
520,048
522,247
493,701
518,318
536,897
533,458
575,155
579,242
582,580
596,893
funded)
ISEP Formula Funds
390,361
390,707
368,992
384,404
386,565
391,837
400,223
402,906
404,165
415,351
ISEP Program Adjustments
3,331
5,278
5,019
5,324
5,353
5,401
5,412
5,457
5,479
5,489
Tribal Education




2,000
2,000
2,500
2,500
2,500
2,500
Departments (TEDs)
Student Transportation
52,692
52,632
49,870
52,796
52,945
53,142
55,995
56,285
56,413
56,991
Early Childhood
15,341
15,345
14,564
15,451
15,520
15,620
18,659
18,810
18,810
18,852
Development
Tribal Grant Support Costsa
46,280
46,253
43,834
48,253
62,395
73,276
80,165
81,036
82,935
83,407
Education Program
12,043
12,032
11,422
12,090
12,119
12,182
12,201
12,248
12,278
14,303
Enhancements
Elementary/Secondary Programs
76,939
122,534
116,326
118,402
119,195
134,263
140,540
141,563
143,972
156,638
Facilities Operationsb
59,149
58,565
55,521
55,668
55,865
63,098
66,219
66,608
68,795
74,897
Facilities Maintenanceb,c

50,665
48,190
48,396
48,591
55,887
59,043
59,552
59,774
60,906
Residential Education
3,755









Placement Programd
Juvenile Detention Education
619




500
500
500
500
500
Johnson-O’Mal ey Program
13,416
13,304
12,615
14,338
14,739
14,778
14,778
14,903
14,903
20,335
Education Management
29,916
21,971
20,258
20,354
20,464
25,151
35,050
35,254
35,355
42,607
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BIA Education Constructionb
140,509
70,826
52,779
55,285
74,501
138,245
133,257
238,245
238,250
248,257
Replacement School Construction
21,463
17,807

954
20,165
45,504
45,504
105,504
105,504
115,504
Replacement Facility Construction
29,466




11,935
11,935
23,935
23,935
23,935
Employee Housing Repair
4,438
4,428
4,405
11,935
3,823
7,565
7,567
13,574
13,576
13,578
Education Facilities Improvement
85,142
48,591
48,374
50,513
50,513
73,241
68,251
95,232
95,235
95,240
and Repair
Total: BIE Elementary-
767,412
737,578
683,064
712,359
751,057
831,117
884,002
994,304
1,000,157
1,044,395
Secondary Education and
Education Construction

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Budget Justifications and Performance Information, Fiscal Years 2007-2019; and U.S. Department of the
Interior, Bureau of Indian Education, Budget Justifications and Performance Information, Fiscal Years 2020-2021.
Notes: In this table, “BIA” includes al Indian programs under the Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. Totals for BIE elementary-
secondary education were calculated by CRS.
Abbreviations:
BIA—Bureau of Indian Affairs.
BIE—Bureau of Indian Education.
ISEP—Indian School Equalization Program.
a. Tribal grant support costs were previously entitled Administrative Cost Grants.
b. Appropriation includes funds for BIE postsecondary education institutions.
c. Appropriations for facilities maintenance were transferred from the BIA Education Construction account to the BIE Elementary-Secondary Education account in
FY2012.
d. The Residential Education Placement Program was formerly cal ed the Institutionalized Disabled Program.

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U.S. Department of Education Indian Elementary and Secondary
Education Programs
The U.S. Department of Education provides funding specifical y for the elementary and
secondary education of Indian children to both public and BIE schools. ED’s assistance
specifical y for Indian education is not to be confused with its general assistance for elementary
and secondary education nationwide. Indian students benefit from ED’s general assistance as
they attend public schools. This section covers ED Indian assistance—that is, assistance
statutorily specified for Indians or al otted according to the number of students who reside on
Indian lands, many of whom are Indian—not general ED assistance that may also benefit Indian
students.
ED Indian education funding to public and BIE schools flows through a number of programs,
most authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95),113 or the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, although other acts also authorize Indian education assistance. Major ED Indian
programs are profiled below. Some general ED programs have set-asides for BIE schools, while
other programs either may be intended solely for Indian students, may specifical y include Indian
and non-Indian students, or may mention Indian students as a target of the assistance. In most
instances, BIE schools are included in the definition of local educational agency (LEA) in the
ESEA114 and IDEA,115 so many ED programs may provide funding to BIE schools even when the
programs have no BIE set-aside or other specific provision for BIE schools, but these programs
are not discussed here. Tribes, tribal organizations, the BIE, and BIE schools are also specifical y
eligible to apply for certain programs, which are not described here.
ESEA Title I-A Grants to Local Educational Agencies
Title I, Part A, of the ESEA authorizes formula grants to LEAs for the education of disadvantaged
children. ESEA Title I-A grants provide supplementary educational and related services to low -
achieving and other students attending pre-kindergarten through grade 12 schools with relatively
high concentrations of students from low-income families. ESEA reserves 0.4% for the outlying
areas and 0.7% for DOI unless the set-asides result in the states receiving less than their aggregate
FY2016 amount, in which case the provisions under ESEA prior to the enactment of ESSA are in
effect.116 DOI funds are for BIE schools and for out-of-state Indian students being educated in
public schools under BIE contracts (e.g., students in peripheral dorms).

113 For more information about ESEA programs, see CRS Report R45977, The Elementary and Secondary Education
Act (ESEA), as Am ended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): A Prim er
.
114 ESEA, §8101(30)(C).
115 IDEA, §602(19)(C).
116 ESEA T itle I-A, as in effect prior to the enactment of the ESSA, provided a set-aside of 1% of T itle I-A
appropriations for DOI and the outlying areas. T he portion of the 1% provided to DOI was the amount determined by
the Secretary of Education to be needed to meet the special educational needs of the Indian students. Prior to FY2017,
the DOI share had been approximately 70% of the total set -aside, as calculated by CRS from “ Fiscal Year 2001-2016
State T ables for the U.S. Department of Education: State T ables by Program,” U.S. Department of Education, Budget
Service, http://www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/index.html.
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ESEA Title I-B State Assessment Grants
The ESEA authorizes formula grants to states to support the development and implementation of
state assessments and standards as required under ESEA Title I-A. ESEA Title I-B, as amended
by ESSA, provides a set-aside of 0.5% for BIE.
ESEA Title II-A Supporting Effective Instruction
The ESEA authorizes formula grants to states that may be used for a variety of purposes related to
the recruitment, retention, and professional development of K-12 teachers and school leaders. The
ESEA Title II-A program, as amended by ESSA, provides a 0.5% set-aside of appropriations for
programs in BIE schools.
ESEA Title III-A English Language Acquisition
Title III, Part A of the ESEA authorizes formula grants to states to provide programs for and
services to English learners (ELs), also known as limited English proficient (LEP) students, and
immigrant students. The program is designed to help ensure that ELs and immigrant students
attain English proficiency, develop high levels of academic achievement in English, and meet the
same state academic standards that al students are expected to meet. The program provides a set-
aside equal to the greater of 0.5% of appropriations or $5 mil ion for the Native American and
Alaska Native Children in School program. The set-aside is available to eligible Indian tribes,
tribal y sanctioned educational authorities, Native Hawai an or Native American Pacific Islander
Native language educational organizations, BIE elementary and secondary schools, and consortia
of BIE elementary and secondary schools.
ESEA Title IV-B 21st Century Community Learning Centers
Title IV, Part B, of the ESEA authorizes formula grants to states for activities that provide
learning opportunities for school-aged children during non-school hours. States award
competitive subgrants to LEAs and community organizations for before- and after-school
activities that wil advance student academic achievement. The program provides a set-aside of
no more than 1% of Title IV-B appropriations for the BIE and the outlying areas. The portion of
the 1% that goes to the BIE is determined by the Secretary of Education.
ESEA Title VI-A Indian Education Programs
Title VI, Part A, Subpart 1 of the ESEA, as amended by ESSA, authorizes formula grants for
supplementary education programs to meet the educational and cultural needs of Indian students.
LEAs, Indian tribes, Indian organizations, Indian community-based organizations, consortia of
the aforementioned entities, and BIE schools are eligible for grants. For an LEA to be eligible, at
least 10 Indian students must be enrolled or at least 25% of its total enrollment must be Indians
(exempted from these requirements are LEAs in Alaska, California, and Oklahoma and LEAs
located on or near an Indian reservation). An LEA’s application must be approved by a local
committee of family members of Indian students and other stakeholders.
The Indian Education programs also authorize special competitive grant programs. One provides
demonstration grants to develop innovative services and programs to improve Indian students’
educational opportunities and achievement. Another competitive program provides for
professional development grants to colleges, or tribes or LEAs in consortium with colleges, to
train Indian individuals as teachers or other professionals.
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In addition, the Indian Education programs authorize national programs. For example, grants to
tribes for education administrative planning and development are authorized. Funds are also
authorized for the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE), which advises the
Secretary of Education and Congress on Indian education.
ESEA Title VI-C Alaska Native Education Equity
Title VI, Part C, of the ESEA authorizes competitive grants to Alaska Native organizations,
educational entities with Native experience, and cultural and community organizations for
supplemental education programs that address the educational needs of Alaska Native students,
parents, and teachers. Grants may be used for development of curricula and educational materials,
student enrichment in science and math, professional development, family literacy, home
preschool instruction, cultural exchange, dropout prevention, and other programs.
ESEA Title VII Impact Aid
Title VII of the ESEA, as amended by ESSA, authorizes Impact Aid Basic Support Payments.
Impact Aid provides financial assistance to school districts whose tax revenues are significantly
reduced, or whose student enrol ments are significantly increased, because of the impacts of
federal property ownership or federal activities. Among such impacts are having a significant
number of children enrolled who reside on “Indian lands,”117 which are defined as Indian trust
and restricted lands,118 lands conveyed to Alaska Native entities under the Alaska Native Claims
Settlement Act of 1971,119 public lands designated for Indian use, and certain lands used for low -
rent housing. Impact Aid funds are distributed by formula directly to LEAs and are used for basic
operating costs, special education, and facilities construction and maintenance. There is no
requirement that the funds be used specifical y or preferential y for the education of Indian
students. There is, however, a requirement that Indian children participate on an equal basis with
non-Indian children in al of the educational programs and activities provided by the LEA,
including but not limited to those funded by Impact Aid. There is also a requirement that the LEA
consult with the parents and tribes of children who reside on “Indian lands” concerning their
education and to ensure that these children receive equal educational opportunities. A few BIE
schools receive Impact Aid funding. ED indicates that about 110,000 students residing on Indian
lands were used to determine formula al ocations under Impact Aid for FY2019.120 The amount of
Impact Aid funding going to LEAs based on the number of children residing on Indian lands
makes it the largest ED Indian education program.
IDEA Part B Special Education Grants to States
Part B of the IDEA authorizes formula grants to states to help them provide a free appropriate
public education to children with disabilities.121 States make subgrants to LEAs. Funds may be
used for salaries of teachers or other special education personnel, education materials,

117 ESEA, §7013(7).
118 T rust lands and restricted lands are not taxable by states or local governments, including LEAs. T rust lands are lands
held by the federal government in trust for an Indian tribe or individual; restricted lands are lands held by an Indian
tribe or individual subject to federal restrictions on alienation.
119 P.L. 92-203, Act of December 18, 1971, 85 Stat. 688; 43 U.S.C. §1601 et seq.
120 U.S. Department of Education, Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request, p. C-14.
121 For more information on IDEA Part B, see CRS Report R41833, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA), Part B: Key Statutory and Regulatory Provisions
.
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transportation, special education services, and occupational therapy or other related services.
Section 611(b)(2) of the IDEA reserves 1.226% of state-grant appropriations for DOI. Each
appropriations act since the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education,
and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (P.L. 109-149) has limited the DOI set-aside to
the prior-year set-aside amount increased for inflation.122 As a consequence, in FY2020 the DOI
set-aside was 0.78%.123 Section 611(h) of the IDEA directs the Secretary of the Interior to al ocate
80% of the set-aside funds to BIE schools for special education for children aged 5-21 and 20%
to tribes and tribal organizations on reservations with BIE schools for early identification of
children with disabilities aged 3-5, parent training, and provision of direct services.
IDEA Part C Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
Part C of the IDEA authorizes a grant program to aid each state in implementing a system of early
intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.124 Section 643(b)
of the IDEA reserves 1.25% of state-grant appropriations for DOI to distribute to tribes and tribal
organizations for the coordination of assistance in the provision of early intervention services by
the states to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families on reservations served by BIE
schools.
MVHAA Education for Homeless Children and Youths
Title VII, Part B, of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (MVHAA; 42 U.S.C.
§§11431-11435) authorizes the Education for Homeless Children and Youths (EHCY) program.
The program provides assistance to state educational agencies (SEAs) to ensure that al homeless
children and youths have equal access to the same free appropriate public education, including
public preschool education that is provided to other children and youths. The program provides a
1.0% set-aside of the appropriation to DOI for services provided by BIE to homeless children and
youths.
Perkins Native American Career and Technical Education Program (NACTEP)
Title I of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (Perkins IV; P.L. 109-
270), as amended by the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act
(Perkins V; P.L. 115-224), authorizes formula grants to states to support the development of
career and technical skil s among students in secondary and postsecondary education.125 The
program provides a 1.25% set-aside for the Native American Career and Technical Education
Program (NACTEP). Eligible entities for NACTEP funds include federal y organized Indian
tribes, tribal organizations, Alaska Native entities, and consortia of such, as wel as BIE
schools.126

122 T he inflation index has been either as specified in Section 619(d)(2)(B) of the IDEA or the percent change in the
IDEA appropriations from the prior year.
123 U.S. Department of Education, Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Request, p. I-21.
124 For more information on IDEA Part C, see CRS Report R43631, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA), Part C: Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities
.
125 For more information on Perkins V, see CRS Report R45446, Reauthorization of the Perkins Act in the 115th
Congress: The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act
.
126 BIE schools may not carry out secondary-level CT E programs with NACT EP funds, because they are eligible to
receive money through the states.
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ED Elementary and Secondary Indian Education Funding
ED Indian education funding primarily supports public schools. Less than a quarter of ED Indian
education funds are set aside for BIE schools (see Figure 3); however, this constitutes a
significant source of BIE school funding.
In nominal dollars, the overal ED Indian education program funding during the FY2011-FY2020
period increased from FY2011 ($1.071 bil ion) to FY2020 ($1.299 bil ion), despite a 6% decline
in FY2013 (see Table 6). The FY2013 decline was primarily a result of sequestration.127 In
constant FY2020 dollars, total ED Indian education program spending on elementary-secondary
education has increased 18% over the same 10-year period.128
Impact Aid is the largest single ED elementary and secondary Indian education program, as
Figure 3 il ustrates. The second-largest funding stream is comprised of the various BIE set-asides
from several ESEA formula grant programs, especial y IDEA Part B and ESEA Title I-A. The
ESEA Indian Education programs provide approximately 14% of the total funding. Other ED
programs—focused on Alaska Natives, career and technical education, early childhood education,
and English language acquisition—account for about 8% of the ED funding provided for Indian
education.

127 For FY2013, the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA,P.L. 112-25) called for sequestration of both mandatory and
discretionary spending. In general, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimated that the joint committee
sequester would require a 5.0% reduction in non-exempt nondefense discretionary funding. T hese reductions were later
applied to full-year FY2013 funding levels following the enactment of full-year funding in the Consolidated and
Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6).
128 FY2020 dollars calculated by U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CPI Inflation Calculator,
available at https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm (accessed June 3, 2020).
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Indian Elementary-Secondary Education: Programs, Background, and Issues

Figure 3. Distribution of ED Funding for Indian Education Programs: FY2011-FY2020

Source: Figure prepared by CRS based on U.S. Department of Education, Budget Service, unpublished tables,
transmitted on various dates, 2008-2019; U.S. Department of Education, Fiscal Years 2019-2021 State Tables for
the U.S. Department of Education, available at https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/
index.html (accessed on June 4, 2020); U.S. Department of Education, FY2021 Budget Justification, pp. C-14; and
U.S. Department of Education Budget Tables, FY2020 Congressional Action, available at https://www2.ed.gov/
about/overview/budget/tables.html?src=ct (accessed on June 4, 2020).

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Table 6. Estimated Funding for Department of Education’s Indian Elementary-Secondary Education Programs, in Descending
Order of FY2015 Funding: FY2011-FY2020
(current dol ars in thousands)
Education
Department (ED)
Programs
FY2011
FY2012
FY2013
FY2014
FY2015
FY2016
FY2017
FY2018
FY2019
FY2020
Total ED Indian
1,070,522
1,084,371
1,017,562
1,049,657
1,060,280
1,119,481 1,164,397
1,243,064
1,276,957
1,298,520
Elementary-Secondary
Education Programs
Subtotal of ED Funds
225,986
223,480
216,666
217,872
216,883
225,198
233,190
240,458
242,337
247,960
Set-Aside for the BIE
Percentage of Total
21%
21%
21%
21%
20%
20%
20%
19%
19%
19%
ESEA Title I-A Grants
101,456
98,209
93,299
92,597
93,711
99,640
108,184
110,284
110,984
114,134
to Local Educational
Agencies
IDEA Part B Special
92,012
92,910
92,910
93,805
94,009
94,170
94,881
96,818
97,500
99,028
Education Grants to
States
ESEA Title II-A
12,263
12,271
11,631
11,690
11,690
11,690
10,228
10,228
10,228
10,606
Improving Teacher
Quality State Grants
ESEA Title IV-B 21st
8,304
8,416
7,650
8,055
7,892
8,244
8,231
7,756
7,819
7,998
Century Community
Learning Centers
IDEA Part C Grants for
5,291
5,342
5,181
5,414
5,414
5,661
5,661
5,802
5,802
5,889
Infants and Families with
Disabilities
ESEA Title I, Section
3,671
3,332
3,152
3,091
3,091
2,808
-
-
-
-
1003 School
Improvement Grantsa
ESEA Title IV-A School
-
-
-
-
-
-
2,000
5,473
5,821
6,020
Support and Academic
CRS-29


Education
Department (ED)
Programs
FY2011
FY2012
FY2013
FY2014
FY2015
FY2016
FY2017
FY2018
FY2019
FY2020
Enrichment State
Grants
ESEA State Assessment
1,900
1,900
1,801
1,845
-
1,845
1,846
1,846
1,846
1,846
Grants
ESEA Title II-B-2, Sec.
-
-
-
-
-
- 950
950
950
960
2222 Comprehensive
Literacy Development
Grants
MVHAA Title VII-B
653
652
618
650
650
700 770
850
935 1,015
Homeless Children and
Youth
ESEA Title VI-B Rural
436
448
425
425
425
440 440
452
452
465
Education
ESEA Title IV-A Safe
-
-
-
300
-
-
-
-
-
-
and Drug-Free Schoolsa
Subtotal of Other ED
844,536
860,891
800,897
831,785
843,396
894,282
931,208
1,002,606
1,034,620
1,050,561
Funds for Indian
Education
Percentage of Total
79%
79%
79%
79%
80%
80%
80%
81%
81%
81%
ESEA Impact Aid—Basic
592,445
602,846
555,688
591,392
592,642
626,138
632,779
696,285
715,909
737,053
Supportb
ESEA Indian
104,122
105,851
100,381
100,381
100,381
100,381
100,381
105,381
105,381
105,381
Education—LEA Grants
Voc. Rehab. For AIs
43,550
37,898
37,224
37,201
39,160
43,000
43,000
40,189
43,000
45,250
with Disabilities
ESEA Indian
19,022
18,796
17,993
17,993
17,993
37,993
57,993
67,993
67,993
67,993
Education—Special
Programs
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Education
Department (ED)
Programs
FY2011
FY2012
FY2013
FY2014
FY2015
FY2016
FY2017
FY2018
FY2019
FY2020
ESEA Alaska Native
33,248
32,853
31,453
31,453
31,453
32,453
32,453
35,453
35,453
35,953
Education Equity
ESEA Impact Aid—
20,293
20,047
21,550
19,827
19,827
20,688
21,360
21,830
21,830
21,830
Disabilities
Perkins Native
14,027
14,038
13,306
13,970
13,970
13,970
13,970
14,907
15,782
16,032
American Career and
Technical Education
Program
ESEA Impact Aid—
8,737
-
-
8,703
-
8,703
-
8,703
-
8,703
Construction “Formula"
ESEA Indian
3,883
5,852
5,565
5,565
5,565
5,656
6,565
6,865
6,865
7,365
Education—National
Programs
ESEA Title III-A English
4,950
5,000
5,000
5,000
5,000
5,000
5,000
5,000
5,000
5,000
Language Acquisition
Special Ed. Parent Info.
259
269
209
300
-
300
300
-
-
-
Centers
ESEA Impact Aid—
-
17,441
12,529
-
17,406
-
17,406
-
17,406
-
Construction
“Discretionary"c
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Budget Service, unpublished tables, transmitted on various dates, 2008-2019; U.S. Department of Education, Fiscal Years 2019-
2021 State Tables for the U.S. Department of Education, available at https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/statetables/index.html (accessed on June 4, 2020); U.S.
Department of Education, FY2021 Budget Justification, pp. C-14; and U.S. Department of Education Budget Tables, FY2020 Congressional Action, available at
https://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/tables.html?src=ct (accessed on June 4, 2020).
Notes: Columns may not sum to totals due to rounding.
Abbreviations:
ED—U.S. Department of Education.
ESEA—Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
IDEA—Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
LEA—Local educational agency (school district).
CRS-31


MVHAA—McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Perkins—Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.
a. This program was not reauthorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95)
b. Some grants are awarded to BIE schools.
c. Estimated by ED based on historical data.


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link to page 12 link to page 12 Indian Elementary-Secondary Education: Programs, Background, and Issues

Issues in Indian Education
Some of the issues of concern with regard to Indian education pertain to the comparatively poor
academic outcomes of Indian students, the desire among tribes for greater self-determination in
education, the effect of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on Bureau of Indian
Education schools, the poor condition of BIE school facilities, and the al ocation of Johnson
O’Mal ey funds. The federal government has been actively engaged in addressing these issues in
a holistic manner in hopes of ultimately increasing the academic achievement of Indian students.
In 2011, President Obama signed Executive Order 13592, Improving American Indian and Alaska
Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities
. The order
commits the Department of the Interior and Department of Education to tribal self-determination;
to Native language, culture, and history education; and to working to provide a quality education
for American Indians and Alaska Natives. As a consequence of the order, the departments signed
a 2012 agreement, which they have subsequently updated, to cement and designate the
responsibilities of their collaboration toward fulfil ing the order.
In recent years, Congress has also supported efforts to address these issues. Beginning in 2012,
Congress appropriated funds specifical y to promote tribal self-determination with respect to
public schools. Several ESEA provisions adopted through ESSA are designed to increase Indian
and tribal influence in public schools. In recent years, authorizing and appropriating committees
have held hearings on the condition of BIE school facilities and encouraged innovative funding.
In addition, Congress has enacted legislation to address the process for real ocating Johnson
O’Mal ey funds.
Poor Academic Achievement and Outcomes
There are significant gaps in educational outcomes for Indian students in BIE schools and
American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students in public schools compared to other students.
For more information on educational outcomes, see the earlier section entitled “Status of Indian
and American Indian/Alaska Native Education.”
As specified in the ESEA, “it is the policy of the
United States to fulfil the federal government’s unique and continuing trust relationship with and
responsibility to the Indian people for the education of Indian children.”129 Title 25 of the U.S.
Code also refers to “the federal responsibility for and assistance to education of Indian
children.”130
Native Language Instruction
In prior decades, there were consistent cal s to increase the use of native language instruction to
increase cultural relevance and improve overal academic performance. One argument contends
that language, culture, and identity are intertwined and thus are important to the tribal identity. A
counter argument is that Native language instruction detracts from the core curriculum. In recent
years, Congress has expanded program authorities and appropriated funds to permit Native
language instruction.
There is not consensus in the research literature regarding the relative effectiveness of Native
language instruction. One commonly cited review of research studies with control groups, for
instance, suggests that bilingual instruction in some instances was found to improve English

129 ESEA, §6101.
130 25 U.S.C. §5301(b)(2).
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reading proficiency in comparison to English immersion, but in other instances it had no impact.
This review focused principal y on studies conducted prior to 1996 and that examined instruction
for Spanish-speaking elementary school children, and many of the studies have limitations. The
one study of Indian Native language students included in the review found no significant
difference in English reading outcomes between bilingual and English-immersion instruction.131
Some longitudinal studies prior to 2007 indicated that Native language immersion students
achieved higher scores on assessments of English and math than Native students who did not
receive Native language immersion.132 However, a more recent review of the literature suggests
that rigorous Native language and culture programs sustain non-English academic achievement,
build English proficiency, and enhance student motivation.133
In 2015, about half of al AI/AN students and fewer than 10% of BIE students had never been
exposed to their Native language,134 although there are several funded federal programs that
support Native language acquisition to varying degrees (Table 7). For most programs, Native
language instruction or the development of Native language instructors is one of many al owable
activities.
Table 7. Selected Federal Programs that Support Native Language Instruction
Federal Agency
Program
Authority
Department of Education
English Language Acquisition
ESEA, Title III-A
Department of Education
Indian Education Formula Grant Program
ESEA, Title VI-A-1
Department of Education
Improvement of Educational Opportunities for
ESEA, Title VI-A-2
Indian Children
Department of Education
Professional Development for Teachers and
ESEA, Title VI-A-2
Education Professionals
Department of Education
Native American and Alaska Native Language
ESEA, Title VI-A-3
Immersion Schools and Programs
Department of Education
Alaska Native Education Equity Program
ESEA, Title VI-C
Department of Health and
Native American Language Preservation and
42 U.S.C. §2991b-3
Human Services
Maintenance Programs
Department of the Interior
Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP)
25 U.S.C. §2007
Department of the Interior
Living Languages Grant Program (LLGP)
Snyder Act
Department of the Interior
Education Program Enhancements
Snyder Act; 25 U.S.C. §2007
Department of the Interior
Johnson O’Mal ey
25 U.S.C. §§5342 and 5348
Department of the Interior
Early Child and Family Development (FACE)
25 U.S.C. §2019
Source: CRS compilation of statutory provisions, Federal Register Notices, and budget documents.

131 Robert E. Slavin and Alan Cheung, “A Synthesis of Research on Language of Reading Instruction for English
Language Learners,” Review of Educational Research, vol. 75, no. 2 (Summer 2005), pp. 247-284.
132 Mary Eunice Romero-Little, T eresa L. McCarty, and Larisa Warhol, et al., “Language Policies in Practice:
Preliminary Findings from a Large-Scale National Study ofNative American Language Shift,” TESOL Quarterly, vol.
41, no. 3 (September 2007), pp. 607 -618.
133 T eresa L. McCarty, and Alica Wiley Snell, The Role of Native Languages and Cultures in American Indian, Alaska
Native, and Native Hawaiian Student Achievem ent
, Arizona State University, under a contract from the U.S.
Department of Education, July 2011.
134 U.S. Department of Education, The National Indian Education Study: 2015, NCES 2019-048, 2019, p. 18.
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Notes: ESEA means Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
a. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Living Languages Grant Program (LLGP); Solicitation
of Proposals,” 85 Federal Register 31544-31548, May 26, 2020.
In 2015, the BIE introduced a Native language policy framework for BIE-operated schools,
including college and preschool programs. The policy is intended to require the integration of
Native language instruction to the extent that Native language standards exist. Consistent with
this set of aims, DOI, ED, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) signed a
memorandum of understanding to work together to encourage instruction in and preservation of
Native languages.135 Regulations updated in 2020 describe the ability of tribal governing bodies
and school boards to create Native language academic standards and assessments.136 In March
2020, the BIE announced that it intends to provide guidance on the use of content assessments in
a Native language for ESEA Title I-A compliance purposes that would increase flexibility in the
use of Native languages for instruction in al subjects.137
Despite the number of programs that may be used to support Native language learning, the extent
to which these programs have resulted in access to Native language instruction and Native
language fluency has not been documented.
Discipline, Violence, Crime, and Alcohol and Drug Use
Tribal representatives have indicated that violence and alcohol and drug use are serious
community issues that affect students and their ability to learn. A high incidence of substance
abuse in Indian country communities contributes to or is symptomatic of high levels of
depression, domestic violence, suicide, disease, death, and other situations that are not conducive
to learning. Among persons aged 18 or older in 2018, AI/ANs had higher rates of substance use
disorder (11%) and mental il ness (22%) than did Asians/Native Hawai ans and Other Pacific
Islanders, Hispanics, and African Americans.138 This environment affects Indian students enrolled
in BIE and public schools.
A February 2010 evaluation of violence prevention policies and measures at BIE schools by
DOI’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found areas of concern for potential violence and
deficiencies in the policies and procedures for preventing and managing incidents.139 According
to the OIG evaluation, in recent years 6% of public high school students carried a weapon on
campus, whereas 37% of BIE middle school students reported the same. The OIG evaluation
found that many BIE schools had open campuses—little or no fencing, inadequate security access

135 Brian Drapeaux, Director, Bureau of Indian Education, Lillian Sparks, Commissioner, Administration for Native
Americans, and William Mendoza, Executive Director, White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native
Education, Mem orandum of Agreem ent between the U.S. Departm ent of the Interior, U.S. Departm ent of Health and
Hum an Services, and the U.S. Departm ent of Education On Native Languages
, November 30, 2012.
136 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Standards, Assessments, and Accountability System,” 85
Federal Register
17030, March 26, 2020.
137 Ibid.
138 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Releases, https://www.samhsa.gov/data/release/2018-
national-survey-drug-use-and-health-nsduh-releases.
139 T he committee report accompanying the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-94) directed DOI
to provide such grants. For more information, see U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General,
Evaluation Report—School Violence Prevention, Report No. NM-EV-BIE-0003-2008, Washington, DC, February
2010.
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procedures, and flawed camera surveil ance systems. The OIG recommended that the BIA and
BIE
 establish safety policies and accurate incident tracking systems,140
 evaluate campus safety and security,
 correct weaknesses or require tribal operators to correct weaknesses,
 address safety as a criterion for tribes to maintain operating grants and contracts,
and
 implement staff training to prevent and manage incidents.
Follow-up inspections in 2014 indicated the need for improvement in several areas. Emergency
preparedness and security plans failed to cover al applicable topics. Violence prevention training
for staff and students also failed to cover al applicable topics. BIE schools need to evaluate and
implement necessary safety measures.141
In 2016, the BIE and Indian Health Service (IHS) entered into an agreement to establish local
partnerships for IHS-operated mental health programs to provide mental health counseling to
students attending BIE-operated schools. The agreement encourages tribes and tribal y controlled
BIE schools to also participate in local partnerships.142
ED has indicated that American Indian/Alaska Native students enrolled in public schools are
overrepresented among out-of-school suspensions and expulsions.143 Suspensions and expulsions
can have negative educational consequences.
Broadband and Computer Access
Access to high-speed internet (broadband) and computers is of increasing importance in
elementary and secondary education. The internet may be used for online standardized
assessments (some BIE students must be bussed offsite for assessments),144 in-home instructional
access, and access to various educational resources and content. To this end, schools need
broadband access for multiple students concurrently, and students need access at home. Calendar
year 2018 Census data indicate that, on average, 88% of the population are in a household that
has a computer and a broadband internet subscription, but American Indians and Alaska Natives
have the lowest rate of access at 76%.145 Census defines a computer to include desktop computers
and smartphones. Smartphones may not be adequate for completing remote learning lessons,

140 T he evaluation indicated that reporting of incidents in the Native American Student Information System (NASIS) is
inconsistent and inaccurate.
141 Kimberly Elmore, Management Advisory - Summary of Bureau of Indian Education Violence Prevention
Inspections
, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of the Interior, Report No. 2015 -CR-074, June 15, 2016.
142 Interagency Agreement Between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Service and the
U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education and Bureau of Indian Affairs-Office of Justice Services,
December 2016.
143 U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Protecting Civil Rights, Advancing Equity: Report to the
President and Secretary of Education, Under Section 203(b)(1) of the Departm ent of Education Organization Act, FY
13–14
, Washington, DC, 2015.
144 FY2021 Budget, p. BIE-OIEP-23.
145 U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2018: ACS 1-Year Estimates Subject T able S2802, available at
https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?d=ACS%201-Year%20Estimates%20Subject%20T ables&tid=
ACSST 1Y2018.S2802&vintage=2018&hidePreview=true.
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which means the data may overestimate access to remote learning. In addition, 28% of persons on
tribal lands lack broadband access compared to 2% of Americans in urban areas.146
There are three primary sources of funding to improve broadband access on tribal lands.147 The
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF) and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) provide significant funding for
broadband deployment; however, tribal entities and BIE schools may receive limited funding in
proportion to their need. The BIE Education IT appropriations program element provides internet
connectivity for BIE-operated schools and some tribal y operated BIE schools. In addition, in
FY2020 BIA set aside funds from the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020 (P.L. 116-
94) for grants to tribes to perform feasibility studies for the deployment or expansion of
broadband.148
BIE School Issues
BIE school-specific issues include how to define an effective academic accountability system for
BIE schools, construction and repair of BIE schools, and BIE management and administration.
Federal Administration and Organization
The structure and administration of the BIE school system has long been considered a contributor
to poor educational outcomes. A landmark 1928 report, known as the Meriam Report, found that
underfunding and paternal federal policy contributed to deficient boarding school student diets,
low qualification standards and salaries for teaching staff, student labor to maintain schools, and a
prescriptive and unresponsive curriculum.149 Another milestone report in 1969, known as the
Kennedy report, recommended a promotion of the status of BIA within DOI but declined to make
a recommendation regarding what it characterized as the long-standing and most serious issue of
the ineffective internal organization of the BIA.150 The 1969 report highlighted that education was
not the BIA’s highest priority and cal ed attention to a lack of centralized authority, data, and
information; a clear chain of command; educational expertise among administrators; and a high
quality, motivated, and stable teaching staff. Additional organizational assessments were
conducted in 1992,151 1999,152 and 2012.153
Since 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published several reports on DOI
management of BIE schools. GAO has maintained DOI management of Indian education

146 Federal Communications Commission, 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, FCC 20 -50, April 24, 2020, p. 18.
147 See also CRS Report R44416, Tribal Broadband: Status of Deployment and Federal Funding Programs.
148 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “National T ribal Broadband Grant; Solicitation of Proposals,”
85 Federal Register 7580-7584, February 10, 2020.
149 Lewis Meriam, The Problem of Indian Administration, Institute for Government Research, Report of a Survey made
at the request of Honorable Hubert Work, Secretary of the Interior, and submitted to him, Baltimore, MD, Februa ry 21,
1928.
150 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, Special Subcommittee on Indian Education, Indian
Education: A National Tragedy - A National Challenge
, Pursuant to S. Res. 80, 91st Cong., 1st sess., November 3, 1969,
S.Rept. 91-501 (Washington: GPO, 1969).
151 Joint T ribal/BIA/DOI Advisory T ask Force on Bureau of Indian Affairs Reorganization, 1992 Report to the
Secretary of the Interior and the Appropriations Com m ittees
, December 1992.
152 National Academy of Public Administration, A Study of Management and Administration: The Bureau of Indian
Affairs
, August 1999.
153 Bronner, Final Report: Examination, Evaluation, and Recommendations for Support Functions, March 2012.
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programs on its high-risk list of government programs since 2017.154 It found fragmented
administrative structures, a lack of clear roles and poor coordination between responsible offices,
frequent turnovers in leadership, and inadequate procedures and internal controls.155 In addition,
GAO indicated that the smal enrollment of many BIE schools makes it more difficult for them to
acquire al of the necessary educational and personnel resources.156 The BIE has an inadequate
number of staff to oversee school expenditures, and staff have inadequate training and written
procedures with which to fulfil their administrative obligations.157 For example, insufficient BIE
staff expertise and oversight have resulted in special education services required under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act either not being provided or not being appropriately
documented.158 As of April 2020, BIE has yet to develop a plan that promptly addresses safety
hazards in schools.159
Federal administration of BIE schools is complicated by statutory provisions. While the Indian
Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 and Tribal y Controlled Schools Act
support the federal policy of tribal control, DOI management of tribal y operated schools is
necessarily limited by the two laws. In contrast, state educational agencies may establish
standards, processes, and programs for public schools to implement. BIE administers TCSA
grants, which are limited to schools, but BIA administers ISDEAA contracts, which may include
other funding streams such as funds for roads and economic development. Also, the requirement
for tribal consultations supports self-determination and may improve results and acceptance, but
it slows change and innovation.
Several options have been considered to address these long-standing administrative,
organizational, and ultimately student achievement issues.
 Similar to the transfer of BIA-funded schools in Alaska to the state of Alaska, the
remaining BIE schools or students could be transferred to the states, which have
established and known governance systems. AI/AN students in public schools
demonstrate higher academic achievement than BIE students, which lends some
support for this option. However, AI/AN students in public schools on average
score lower than white and Asian/Pacific Islander students in public schools
(Table 3 and Table 4). In addition, AI/AN students in public schools and BIE
students may not be comparable populations.

154 U.S. Government Accountability Office, High-Risk Series: Progress on Many High-Risk Areas, While Substantial
Efforts Needed on Others
, GAO-17-407T , February 15, 2017.
155 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Affairs: Management Challenges Continue to Hinder Efforts to
Im prove Indian Education
, GAO-13-342T, February 27, 2013; and U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian
Affairs: Better Managem ent and Accountability Needed to Im prove Indian Education
, GAO-13-774, September 24,
2013; and U.S. Government Accountability Office, Further Actions on GAO Recom m endations Needed to Address
System ic Managem ent Challenges with Indian Education
, GAO-15-539T, April 22, 2015.
156U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Affairs: Management Challenges Continue to Hinder Efforts to
Im prove Indian Education
, GAO-13-342T, February 27, 2013; and U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian
Affairs: Better Managem ent and Accountability Needed to Im prove Indian Education
, GAO-13-774, September 24,
2013.
157 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Bureau of Indian Education Needs to Improve Oversight of School
Spending
, GAO-15-121, November 13, 2014; and U.S. Government Accountability Office, Further Actions on GAO
Recom m endations Needed to Address System ic Managem ent Challenges with Indian Education
, GAO-15-539T, April
22, 2015.
158 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Education: Actions Needed to Ensure Students with Disabilities
Receive Special Education Services
, GAO-20-358, May 22, 2020.
159 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Priority Open Recommendations: Department of the Interior, GAO-20-
289PR, April 6, 2020.
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 Some stakeholders have suggested colocating or transitioning BIE schools to
tribal y operated charter schools. As charter schools are public-state schools, this
option is similar to the aforementioned option of transferring BIE schools to the
states except that charter schools provide greater autonomy to the operator than is
available to traditional public schools.
 Some stakeholders have suggested transferring the BIE school system to ED
because ED is the federal agency whose mission is educational excel ence and
equal access. Transferring BIE to ED may be difficult as some tribal stakeholders
advocate for DOI-Indian Affairs maintaining responsibility for Indian affairs and
the fact that ED does not have experience operating a school system.
 The Administration and Congress have initiated DOI reorganizations and
restructurings to address the issue directly. The proposals have variously tried to
centralize or decentralize authority and responsibility, improve options for high-
quality personnel recruitment and retention, delineate al of the education
functions into a separate or independent organization, share support functions
between BIE and BIA to leverage expertise, publish policy/procedures manuals,
and improve tribal participation.
In 2014 following results of the American Indian Education Study Group, DOI ordered a
restructuring of BIE in order to address many outstanding issues, in particular encouraging
greater tribal control, improving student achievement, and increasing communication within the
BIE and with its stakeholders. The reorganization is designed to provide greater support and
technical assistance to tribal y operated BIE schools in order to promote more effective teachers
and principals, better respond to resource needs, and foster family and community support for
students. The reorganization is also designed to ensure the budget is aligned with expected
outcomes and processes.160
During the 114th Congress, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved the Reforming
American Indian Standards of Education Act of 2016 (S. 2580) to create an independent Indian
education agency that would be within DOI and that would be directed by a presidential
appointee. The 115th Congress instructed DOI to reorganize and present a reorganization plan for
Indian affairs such that al Indian education functions are administered by and accountable to the
BIE.161
Academic Accountability Under ESEA
The ESEA, as amended by ESSA in 2015, requires DOI to develop regulations for defining BIE
school standards, assessments, and an educational accountability system under ESEA Title I-A,
and it permits BIE schools to waive such regulatory requirements if the tribal governing body or
school board of a BIE school determines the regulations to be inappropriate. From AY2016-2017
through AY2019-2020, the BIE received waivers from implementing an accountability system
that met ESSA requirements.

160 Secretary’s Order 3334, “Restructuring the Bureau of Indian Education,” Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, June
12, 2014.
161 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Rules, Explanatory Statement, T o accompany House Amendment to Senate
Amendments to H.R. 244 (Rules Committee Print 115-16, showing the text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act,
2017.), 115th Cong., 1st sess.
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The final BIE regulations were published in March 2020 and wil go into effect for AY2020-
2021.162 The rules cal for unified BIE assessments for English language arts, math, science, and
tribal civics, and the option for tribal-level Native American language academic standards and
assessments. The BIE is to use commercial y available English language arts, math, and science
standards until they can be modified to meet unique BIE needs. Tribal governing bodies and
school boards can waive in part or whole any part of the academic accountability system. The
Miccosukee Tribe has had an alternative system since AY2014-2015, while the Navajo Nation has
since AY2015-2016.
BIE School Construction and Repair
For at least 40 years, BIE school facilities have been characterized by a large number of old
facilities with a high rate of deficiencies.163 Some facilities are in poor condition and do not meet
health and safety standards.164 Reports from students and faculty suggest that conditions affect
learning and enrollment. GAO and DOI have reported several weaknesses in the management of
BIE school facilities.165 The weaknesses include a lack of consistent and complete facilities
condition information, inadequate implementation of procedures to address facilities’
deficiencies, insufficient staffing, inadequate staff training, inconsistent oversight, insufficient
internal controls and procedures, and poor communication. Several efforts have been employed to
address facilities’ deficiencies.
The Condition of Facilities, Reporting, and Prioritization
As of FY2020, the BIE is responsible for BIE school facilities, including replacement,
improvement, and repair of existing school facilities, and repair of education employee housing.
In response to ongoing facilities needs and unsafe conditions, Congress has established
requirements of DOI in an effort to facilitate addressing the issues. The No Child Left Behind Act
(NCLB, P.L. 107-110) required that DOI establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to report
on BIE schools’ needs for school and school facilities replacement and repair, and to develop
formulas to distribute funds to address these needs.166 In 2016, DOI estimated that the
replacement cost of BIE school facilities exceeded $4.6 bil ion and that the cost to correct known
deficiencies exceeded $430 mil ion.167 At the end of FY2019, BIE reported 71 schools in poor

162 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Standards, Assessments, and Accountability System,” 85
Federal Register
17009-17030, March 26, 2020.
163 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Should the Bureau of Indian Affairs Continue to Provide Educational
Services to Indian Children?
, CED-80-72, April 23, 1980, pp. 24-25; and U.S. General Accounting Office, School
Facilities: Reported Condition and Costs to Repair Schools Funded by Bureau of Indian Affairs
, GAO/HEHA-98-47,
December 31, 1997.
164 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Affairs: Preliminary Results Show Continued Challenges to the
Oversight and Support of Education Facilities
, GAO-15-389T , February 27, 2015.
165 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Affairs: Preliminary Results Show Continued Challenges to the
Oversight and Support of Education Facilities
, GAO-15-389T , February 27, 2015; U.S. Government Accountability
Office, High-Risk Series: Progress on Many High-Risk Areas, While Substantial Efforts Needed on Others, GAO-17-
407T , February 15, 2017; U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Affairs: Key Actions Needed to Ensure
Satety and Health at Indian School Faciltities
, GAO-16-391T , March 16, 2016; and U.S. Department of the Interior,
Office of Inspector General, Condition of Indian School Facilities, Report No.: C-EV-BIE-0023-2014, September
2016.
166 25 U.S.C. §2005(a)(5).
167 U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General, Condition of Indian School Facilities, Report No.: C-
EV-BIE-0023-2014, September 2016.
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condition, 43 in fair condition, and 65 in good condition.168 Congress has periodical y directed the
BIA to develop replacement school priority lists. In 2016, the BIA published a new construction
priority list of 10 schools.169 As of March 2020, construction continues on the last two schools on
the 2004 list.170
Oversight of Water Systems
In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a settlement with the BIA and
BIE to address al eged violations of waste, water, air, toxics, and community right-to-know laws
at schools and public water systems. The al eged violations are related to the labeling, storage,
and release of wastes; asbestos management plans; and drinking water monitoring and
contaminant levels. The original settlement required BIA and BIE to correct al eged violations at
72 schools and 27 water systems and implement an environmental compliance auditing program
and an environmental management system (EMS) to improve environmental practices at al of its
BIE schools. The consent agreement was modified in 2014, expanding the list of BIA/BIE
facilities subject to the consent agreement.171
Construction Bonds
In addition to annual appropriations, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L.
111-5) authorized Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs; 26 U.S.C. §54F).172 QSCBs
were a tax credit bond program that made bond proceeds available for the construction,
rehabilitation, or repair of a public school facility or for the acquisition of land for a public school
facility. Treasury al ocated $200 mil ion in each of 2009 and 2010 to DOI for Indian tribal
governments to construct or repair BIE-funded schools. The authority to issue QSCBs was
repealed beginning in 2018. No tribe took advantage of the program partly because many tribes
are unable to sel bonds because they are high risk entities; although the al ocation remains
available.173
ISDEAA Section 105(l) Facilities Leasing
ISDEAA Section 105(l) requires DOI to lease facilities from tribes and tribal organizations upon
their request if such facilities are used by the tribe or tribal organization for the administration and
delivery of services under an ISDEAA contract.174 Beginning in FY2019, the BIE began leasing
school facilities under the section.175 BIE has signed an agreement with the Gila River Indian
Community for the Gila Crossing Community School. Once a lease agreement is entered into,

168 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Education, Site Assessment Analysis for FY2020; data as of end of
FY2019 Q4.
169 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary, “Office of the Assistant
Secretary—Indian Affairs; School Facilities Construction List,” 81 Federal Register 25704, April 29, 2016.
170 FY2021 Budget, p. BIE-CON-ED-14.
171 United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Consent Agreement with the US Department of Interior (DOI),
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE),” http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/consent-
agreement -us-department -interior-doi-bureau-indian-affairs-bia-and-bureau-indian.
172 For more information about QSCBs, see CRS Report R40523, Tax Credit Bonds: Overview and Analysis.
173 Letter from Jon T ester, United States Senate, T im Johnson, United States Senate, and Al Franken, United States
Senate, to Honorable Sally Jewel, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior, May 19, 2014.
174 25 C.F.R. §§900.69 – 900.74.
175 In FY2019 and FY2020, the lease costs were supported through the BIE Facilities Operations budget line item.
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meeting the annual costs become a legal funding entitlement.176 The FY2021 President’s budget
recommends establishing a new BIA indefinite appropriations account to support al such BIE,
BIA, and Indian Health Service agreements.177 The ongoing costs of such leases is unknown.
Trust Fund Accounts
Another approach to funding facilities construction and renovation is the establishment of a trust
fund account from applicable contributions that can be used for these purposes.
In 2000, DOI was directed to establish a charitable, nonprofit foundation cal ed the American
Indian Education Foundation, later renamed the National Fund for Excel ence in American Indian
Education (Foundation).178 The Foundation was intended to support the mission of the BIE and
further the educational opportunities of American Indians who attend BIE-funded schools. It was
to be a federal y chartered nonprofit corporation accepting and administering charitable donations
that further the educational opportunities of Indian children attending BIE-funded schools. The
Foundation was established in July 2004, but it lacked start-up capital, lacked operational funds,
and was unable to raise money.179 Currently, it is not functional.
The Great American Outdoors Act (H.R. 1957) would establish a National Parks and Public Land
Legacy Restoration Fund, which would receive annual deposits over five years of 50% of al
federal energy development revenues (from both conventional and renewable sources) credited,
covered, or deposited as miscel aneous receipts under federal law, up to a cap of $1.9 bil ion
annual y. Deposits to the fund would be available as mandatory spending to address the deferred
maintenance backlogs, including the resolution of infrastructure deficiencies, of several federal
agencies. The BIE would receive 5% of annual deposits. H.R. 1957 was passed by the House on
April 9, 2019, and passed with an amendment by the Senate on June 17, 2020.
Additional Potential Options
There are a several potential options for addressing poor facilities at BIE schools. Some that are
routinely suggested or have been suggested by organizations like GAO include the following:
 additional funds for maintenance, improvement, and construction could be
appropriated to cover the estimated cost of bringing facilities into good
condition;
 public-private partnerships could be formed to fund and/or provide expertise to
affect facilities improvement and construction;180

176 Maniilaq Ass'n v. Burwell, 72 F. Supp. 3d 227 (D.D.C. 2014) and Maniilaq Ass'n v. Burwell, 170 F. Supp. 3d 243
(D.D.C. 2016).
177 FY2021 Budget. p. BIE-OIEP-16. The budget includes $10.5 million for the estimated BIE need for 105(l) leases in
FY2021.
178 T itle XIII of the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act (P.L. 106-568). 25 U.S.C. §5421 et seq.
179 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Amending the Indian Self Determination and Education
Assistance Act to Modify Provisions Relating to the National Fund for Excellence in American Indian Education, T o
accompany S. 1231, 109th Cong., 1st sess., July 29, 2005, S.Rept. 109-118.
180 For example, see U.S. Congress, House Committee on Rules, Explanatory Statement, T o accompany House
Amendment to Senate Amendments to H.R. 244 (Rules Committee Print 115-16, showing the text of the Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2017.), 115th Cong., 1st sess, p. 30.
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 implementation of a DOI-based unit or organization that would execute
appropriate communication, procedures, internal controls, oversight, and staffing
to properly manage BIE facilities;181 and
 congressional and administrative oversight of measured progress in facilities’
improvement and construction may affect outcomes.182
Public School Indian Education – Johnson O’Malley (JOM)
Program Freeze and Modernization
From FY1995 until enactment of the Johnson-O’Mal ey Supplemental Indian Education Program
Modernization Act (JOM Modernization Act; P.L. 115-404), program administration was subject
to the JOM freeze. By statute, JOM funds are distributed to contractors by formula, based on a
count of Indian students and average per-pupil operating costs. Student counts for al ocating
funds were frozen in FY1995.183 The intention was to include the JOM funds in each tribe’s
recurring base funding, tribal priority al ocations (TPA), in an effort to stabilize funding for tribes
and provide them additional control and flexibility in the use of the funds. Because there is a
statutory prohibition on changing a tribe’s base funding, JOM al ocations since FY1995 have
been based on FY1995 student counts.184 Over time, the JOM freeze resulted in an inequitable
al ocation of funds and restricted new contractors from program access.185
In an effort to distribute funds in accordance with more current student counts, Congress has
taken two steps. FY2012-FY2018 appropriations conference reports directed the BIE to count the
number of students participating in and eligible to participate in the Johnson O'Mal ey (JOM)
program and recommend a methodology to distribute funds in the future.186 Despite BIE requests
to current and prospective JOM contractors, some did not report actual or potential participants.
In December 2018, the JOM Modernization Act was enacted, requiring the Secretary of the
Interior to conduct a comprehensive estimate of actual and potential JOM participants, requiring
contractors to report participation numbers in order to receive JOM funding, adjusting over time
the amount of funds al ocated to contractors based on eligible student counts, and increasing

181 U.S. Government Accountability Office, High-Risk Series: Progress on Many High-Risk Areas, While Substantial
Efforts Needed on Others
, GAO-17-407T , February 15, 2017.
182 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Indian Affairs: Management Challenges Continue to Hinder Efforts to
Im prove Indian Education
, GAO-13-342T, February 27, 2013.
183 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, Department of the Interior and Related Agencies
Appropriations Bill, 1995
, Report to accompany H.R. 4602, 103rd Cong., 2nd sess., June 17, 1994, H.Rept. 103-551, pp.
54-55; and U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Departm ent of the Interior and Related Agencies
Appropriations Bill, 1995
, Report to accompany H.R. 4602, 103rd Cong., 2nd sess., June 28, 1994, S.Rept. 103-294, p.
55.
184 25 U.S.C §450j-1(b)(2). U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “T ribal Consultation of Indian
Education T opics,” 60 Federal Register 53932, October 18, 1995.
185 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, T o Direct T he Secretary o f the Interior to Conduct an Accurate
Comprehensive Student Count for the Purposes of Calculating Formula Allocations for Programs Under the Johnson -
O'Malley Act, and for other Purposes, Report to accompany S. 943, 115th Cong., 2nd sess., January 24, 2018, S.Rept.
115-201.
186 See for example, U.S. House of Representatives, “Explanatory Statement Submitted by Mr. Frelinghuysen of New
Jersey, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Regarding the House Amendment to the Senate
Amendments on H.R. 244,” Congressional Record, vol. 163 (May 3, 2017), p. H3881.
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program access for new contractors depending on appropriations levels. The final implementation
regulations are effective March 26, 2020.187
In April 2020, the GAO reported on issues in the implementation of JOM. In part because JOM is
administered by several BIA offices, the BIE is unable to compile a complete list of contractors
and has not defined roles and responsibilities for BIA staff. The BIE does not provide training to
contractors to help them administer the program.



Author Information

Cassandria Dortch

Specialist in Education Policy


Acknowledgments
This is a substantially revised version of a report originally written by Roger Walke, former Specialist in
American Indian Policy.

Disclaimer
This document was prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS serves as nonpartisan
shared staff to congressional committees and Members of Congress. It operates solely at the behest of and
under the direction of Congress. Information in a CRS Report should n ot be relied upon for purposes other
than public understanding of information that has been provided by CRS to Members of Congress in
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187 Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, “Education Contracts Under Johnson O'Malley Act,” 85
Federal Register
10938-10958, February 25, 2020.
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