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Title VII--Indian, Native Hawaiian, And Alaska Native Education
Indian Education (VII-A)


The Indian Education program supports the efforts of school districts, Indian tribes and organizations, postsecondary institutions, and other entities to meet the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of American Indian and Alaska Native students so that they can meet the same challenging state student academic achievement standards as all other students.

The federal government has a unique and continuing trust relationship with and responsibility to the Indian people for the education of Indian children. The federal government continues to work with school districts, Indian tribes and organizations, postsecondary institutions, and other entities toward the goal of ensuring that programs that serve Indian children are of the highest quality and provide for not only the basic elementary and secondary educational needs but also the unique educational and culturally related academic needs of these children.

On average, American Indian and Alaska Native students tend to demonstrate lower achievement levels than members of other groups. National Assessment of Educational Progress test results for fourth-graders show that American Indians and Alaskan Natives score below basic levels in reading, math, and history. Other differences exist between the American Indian and Alaska Native population and the general population in educational attainment. For example, only 66 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives had graduated from high school in 1990, compared with 75 percent of the general population. American Indian and Alaska Native students are also less frequently college-bound, and their SAT and ACT scores are lower than national norms.

WHAT'S NEW--The No Child Left Behind Act

Reduces Bureaucracy and Increases Flexibility

  • Authorizes school districts receiving funds under the formula program to consolidate funds from other federal programs that provide education and related services to Indians as a demonstration authority. Requires the U.S. Department of Education to submit an interim report to Congress on the status of the demonstration project within two years of enactment and a final report within five years.

How It Works

There are three major activities funded under the Indian Education Program: Grants to districts, special programs, and national activities.

  • Grants to school districts. Formula grants are given to school districts and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) -operated or supported schools based on the number of Indian children and the state's per-pupil expenditure for education. Grants go only to districts in which there are at least 10 Indian children or the Indian children make up at least 25 percent of the total enrollment. Districts in California, Alaska, and Oklahoma, and those located on or near reservations, are exempted from this requirement. Each local district receives at least $3,000.
  • Special Programs. Competitive grants are given to, among others, state education agencies (SEAs) and districts, Indian tribes and organizations, and federally supported schools for Indians for up to five years. Currently funded activities include demonstrations for early childhood projects and professional development.
  • National Research, Data Collection, and Evaluation Activities. The U.S. Department of Education may carry out any of these activities directly or through grants to, or contracts or cooperative agreements with, Indian tribes, Indian organizations, state education agencies (SEAs), school districts, institutions of higher education, including Indian institutions of higher education, and other public and private agencies and institutions. Research activities will be carried out in consultation with the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) and may include collaborative research activities that are jointly funded and carried out by the Office of Indian Education Programs (OIE) and OERI.

Key Requirements

Grants to local school districts. Acceptable activities under this program include:

  • Culturally related activities that support the application;
  • Early childhood and family programs;
  • Enrichment programs that directly support the attainment of challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards;
  • Integrated educational services;
  • Career preparation activities;
  • Activities concerning substance abuse and to prevent substance abuse;
  • Activities that incorporate American Indian- and Alaska Native-specific curriculum content, consistent with state standards, into the curriculum; and
  • Family literacy services.

Special Programs. Acceptable activities under this program include:

  • Incentive programs related to the educational needs of educationally disadvantaged children;
  • Educational services;
  • Bilingual and bicultural programs and projects;
  • Special health and nutrition services, and other related services;
  • Programs designed to assist and encourage Indian children to enter, remain in, or re-enter school, and to increase the rate of high school graduation for Indian children;
  • Early childhood and kindergarten programs;
  • Partnership projects between schools and local businesses for career preparation programs designed to provide Indian youths with the knowledge and skills they need to make an effective transition from school to a high-skill, high-wage career;
  • Programs designed to encourage and assist Indian students to work toward, and gain entrance into, an institution of higher education; and
  • Family literacy services.

National Research Activities. The U.S. Department of Education may use funds to conduct research related to effective approaches for educating Indian children and adults; evaluate federally assisted education programs from which Indian children and adults may benefit; collect and analyze data on the educational status and needs of Indians; and carry out other activities that are consistent with the purpose of this program.

How It Achieves Quality

Applications for district formula grants must include academic content and student academic achievement goals, as well as benchmarks for attaining such goals, that are based on the challenging state academic content and achievement standards for all children adopted under Title I. Applicants for competitive grants must provide information demonstrating that the proposed program is based on scientific research and may have been modified to be culturally appropriate for students who will be served.

How Performance Is Measured

Each school district will prepare and submit reports to the U.S. Department of Education on the effectiveness of the funded activities in improving the educational achievement of Indian students.

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Last Modified: 09/14/2007