BIA and DOD Schools: Student Achievement and Other Characteristics Often Differ from Public Schools'

GAO-01-934 Published: Sep 28, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 2001.
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Unlike public schools, the schools run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) depend almost entirely on federal funds. Although the two school systems are similar in that regard, their histories and settings are very different. The performance of many BIA students on standardized tests and other academic measures is far below that of public school students. BIA students also score considerably below the national average on college admission tests. Nearly all BIA teachers are fully certified for the subjects or grade levels they teach, although BIA officials said that some schools have great difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified staff. BIA schools report that they have greater access to computers and the Internet than do public schools, but the technical support available to maintain the computers and help teachers use technology in the classroom is more limited. Many school administrators reported problems with school facilities. Estimated per-pupil expenditures at BIA schools varied widely by school type, such as day or boarding school, but are generally higher than for public schools nationally. The academic performance of DOD students generally exceeds that of elementary and secondary students nationwide. On college admission tests, DOD students perform at or near the national average. Nearly all DOD teachers are fully certified for the subjects or grade levels they teach, and about two-thirds have advanced degrees. Access to computers and the Internet is better than at public schools, and nearly all DOD administrators said that technical support is available in their schools. Many DOD administrators reported problems with their school facilities, but the overall condition of their buildings did not differ greatly from that reported by public schools in 1999. Estimated per-pupil expenditures at DOD schools overseas were higher than those for U.S. schools, mainly because of the costs involved in moving and housing teachers and staff overseas.

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