January 27, 2022

News

News Network

Indian Education: Schools Need More Assistance to Provide Distance Learning

11 min read
<div>What GAO Found The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), within the Department of the Interior (Interior), has not provided BIE-funded schools with comprehensive guidance on distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, BIE issued a short memo directing schools to “deliver flexible instruction” and “teach content,” but did not offer specific guidance on how to do so. In July 2020, 13 of the 25 schools that responded to GAO's survey said they wanted BIE to provide information on developing and implementing distance learning programs. In addition, 12 schools responded that they wanted information on distance learning methods for areas without broadband internet access. In August 2020, after some schools had already begun the school year, BIE issued a re-opening guide for the 2020-2021 school year. BIE's guidance focused primarily on preparations for in-person instruction at schools, although nearly all schools provided distance learning during the fall of 2020. The guidance contained little information on distance learning. Providing schools with comprehensive distance learning guidance will help them better navigate the current pandemic as well as potential future emergencies that lead to school building closures. BIE helped improve internet access for students at BIE-operated schools during the pandemic, but many students had not received laptops to access online learning by the end of fall 2020. BIE and other Interior offices provided over 7,000 hotspots to students to improve home internet access, but they did not order laptops for most students until September 2020. Interior officials said a nationwide IT supply shortage contributed to the delayed order for about 10,000 laptops. GAO found, however, that delays were also caused in part by BIE not having complete and accurate information on schools' IT needs. Most schools received laptops from late October 2020 to early January 2021, although some laptops still had not been delivered as of late March 2021. Once laptops were delivered, however, schools also faced challenges configuring them, leading to further delays in distributing them to students. BIE officials told GAO that to address schools' challenges with configuring laptops, they are assessing schools' IT workforce needs. Most BIE students did not receive laptops until months after the school year began, according to GAO's analysis of Interior information. Specifically, none of the laptops Interior ordered in early September 2020 arrived in time to distribute to students by the start of the school year in mid-September; by the end of December 2020, schools had not distributed over 80 percent of the student laptops Interior ordered; and as of late March 2021, schools had not distributed about 20 percent of the student laptops Interior ordered. Without accurate, complete, and up-to-date information on schools' IT needs, BIE was unable to ensure that students received laptops when they needed them. Establishing policies and procedures for assessing schools' IT needs would help guide the agency's IT purchases now and in the future, and position schools to integrate technology into their everyday curricula. Why GAO Did This Study BIE's mission is to provide quality education to approximately 41,000 students at 183 schools it funds on or near Indian reservations in 23 states. About two-thirds of these schools are operated by tribes and the remaining third are operated by BIE. In March 2020, all BIE schools closed their buildings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO reviewed distance learning at BIE schools as part of its oversight responsibilities under the CARES Act. This testimony examines the extent to which (1) BIE has provided schools with guidance to develop and implement distance learning programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) students have had the technology they need to participate in such programs. GAO analyzed the guidance BIE provided to schools on distance learning, examined BIE's provision of technology to schools and students, surveyed a non-generalizable sample of 30 schools—including 19 operated by tribes and 11 operated by BIE— with 25 schools responding, selected for geographic diversity and level of community broadband access, among other criteria, reviewed relevant federal statutes, regulations, and agency documentation, and interviewed BIE and school officials.</div>

What GAO Found

The Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), within the Department of the Interior (Interior), has not provided BIE-funded schools with comprehensive guidance on distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, BIE issued a short memo directing schools to “deliver flexible instruction” and “teach content,” but did not offer specific guidance on how to do so. In July 2020, 13 of the 25 schools that responded to GAO’s survey said they wanted BIE to provide information on developing and implementing distance learning programs. In addition, 12 schools responded that they wanted information on distance learning methods for areas without broadband internet access. In August 2020, after some schools had already begun the school year, BIE issued a re-opening guide for the 2020-2021 school year. BIE’s guidance focused primarily on preparations for in-person instruction at schools, although nearly all schools provided distance learning during the fall of 2020. The guidance contained little information on distance learning. Providing schools with comprehensive distance learning guidance will help them better navigate the current pandemic as well as potential future emergencies that lead to school building closures.

BIE helped improve internet access for students at BIE-operated schools during the pandemic, but many students had not received laptops to access online learning by the end of fall 2020. BIE and other Interior offices provided over 7,000 hotspots to students to improve home internet access, but they did not order laptops for most students until September 2020. Interior officials said a nationwide IT supply shortage contributed to the delayed order for about 10,000 laptops. GAO found, however, that delays were also caused in part by BIE not having complete and accurate information on schools’ IT needs. Most schools received laptops from late October 2020 to early January 2021, although some laptops still had not been delivered as of late March 2021. Once laptops were delivered, however, schools also faced challenges configuring them, leading to further delays in distributing them to students. BIE officials told GAO that to address schools’ challenges with configuring laptops, they are assessing schools’ IT workforce needs. Most BIE students did not receive laptops until months after the school year began, according to GAO’s analysis of Interior information. Specifically,

  • none of the laptops Interior ordered in early September 2020 arrived in time to distribute to students by the start of the school year in mid-September;
  • by the end of December 2020, schools had not distributed over 80 percent of the student laptops Interior ordered; and
  • as of late March 2021, schools had not distributed about 20 percent of the student laptops Interior ordered.

Without accurate, complete, and up-to-date information on schools’ IT needs, BIE was unable to ensure that students received laptops when they needed them. Establishing policies and procedures for assessing schools’ IT needs would help guide the agency’s IT purchases now and in the future, and position schools to integrate technology into their everyday curricula.

Why GAO Did This Study

BIE’s mission is to provide quality education to approximately 41,000 students at 183 schools it funds on or near Indian reservations in 23 states. About two-thirds of these schools are operated by tribes and the remaining third are operated by BIE. In March 2020, all BIE schools closed their buildings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO reviewed distance learning at BIE schools as part of its oversight responsibilities under the CARES Act.

This testimony examines the extent to which (1) BIE has provided schools with guidance to develop and implement distance learning programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) students have had the technology they need to participate in such programs. GAO analyzed the guidance BIE provided to schools on distance learning, examined BIE’s provision of technology to schools and students, surveyed a non-generalizable sample of 30 schools—including 19 operated by tribes and 11 operated by BIE— with 25 schools responding, selected for geographic diversity and level of community broadband access, among other criteria, reviewed relevant federal statutes, regulations, and agency documentation, and interviewed BIE and school officials.

More from:

News Network

  • Montana Chiropractor and his Wife Plead Guilty to Tax Evasion
    In Crime News
    A Montana chiropractor and his wife pleaded guilty today to tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Department of Justice’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Kurt G. Alme for the District of Montana.
    [Read More…]
  • Appointment of Ambassador Richard Norland as U.S. Special Envoy for Libya
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Financial Audit: Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s FY 2021 and FY 2020 Schedules of Federal Debt
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found GAO found (1) the Bureau of the Fiscal Service's Schedules of Federal Debt for fiscal years 2021 and 2020 are fairly presented in all material respects, and (2) although internal controls could be improved, Fiscal Service maintained, in all material respects, effective internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedule of Federal Debt as of September 30, 2021. GAO's tests of selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements related to the Schedule of Federal Debt disclosed no instances of reportable noncompliance for fiscal year 2021. Although Fiscal Service made some progress in addressing previously reported control deficiencies, unresolved information system control deficiencies continued to represent a significant deficiency in Fiscal Service's internal control over financial reporting, which although not a material weakness, is important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance of Fiscal Service. From fiscal year 1997, GAO's first year auditing the schedules, through September 30, 2021, total federal debt managed by Fiscal Service has increased from $5.4 trillion to $28.4 trillion, and the debt limit has been raised 21 times. Total Federal Debt Outstanding, September 30, 1997, through September 30, 2021 During fiscal year 2021, total federal debt increased by $1.5 trillion, with debt held by the public increasing by $1.3 trillion, and intragovernmental debt holdings increasing by $0.2 trillion. The main factor for the increase in debt held by the public was the reported $2.8 trillion federal deficit in fiscal year 2021, which was due primarily to economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 and federal spending in response. The increase in debt held by the public was less than the deficit primarily because of a $1.6 trillion decrease in the government's cash balance. Due to delays in raising the debt limit during fiscal year 2021, the Department of the Treasury deviated from its normal debt management operations and took extraordinary actions—consistent with relevant laws—to avoid exceeding the debt limit. Delays in raising the debt limit have created disruptions in the Treasury market and increased borrowing costs. To improve federal debt management and place the government on a sustainable long-term fiscal path, GAO has previously suggested that Congress consider establishing a long-term plan that includes alternative approaches to the debt limit, and fiscal rules and targets. Why GAO Did This Study GAO audits the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government. Because of the significance of the federal debt to the government-wide financial statements, GAO audits Fiscal Service's Schedules of Federal Debt annually to determine whether, in all material respects, (1) the schedules are fairly presented and (2) Fiscal Service management maintained effective internal control over financial reporting relevant to the Schedule of Federal Debt. Further, GAO tests compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements related to the Schedule of Federal Debt. Federal debt managed by Fiscal Service consists of Treasury securities held by the public and by certain federal government accounts, referred to as intragovernmental debt holdings. Debt held by the public primarily represents the amount the federal government has borrowed to finance cumulative cash deficits and is held by investors outside of the federal government—including individuals, corporations, state or local governments, the Federal Reserve, and foreign governments. Intragovernmental debt holdings represent balances of Treasury securities held by federal government accounts—primarily federal trust funds such as Social Security and Medicare—that typically have an obligation to invest their excess annual receipts (including interest earnings) over disbursements in federal securities. In commenting on a draft of this report, Fiscal Service concurred with GAO's conclusions. For more information, contact Cheryl E. Clark at (202) 512-3406 or clarkce@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems: New DOD Programs Can Learn from Past Efforts to Craft Better and Less Risky Acquisition Strategies
    In U.S GAO News
    Through 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to spend $20 billion to significantly increase its inventory of unmanned aircraft systems, which are providing new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike capabilities to U.S. combat forces--including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite their success on the battlefield, DOD's unmanned aircraft programs have experienced cost and schedule overruns and performance shortfalls. Given the sizable planned investment in these systems, GAO was asked to review DOD's three largest unmanned aircraft programs in terms of cost. Specifically, GAO assessed the Global Hawk and Predator programs' acquisition strategies and identified lessons from these two programs that can be applied to the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program, the next generation of unmanned aircraft.While the Global Hawk and Predator both began as successful demonstration programs, they adopted different acquisition strategies that have led to different outcomes. With substantial overlap in development, testing, and production, the Global Hawk program has experienced serious cost, schedule, and performance problems. As a result, since the approved start of system development, planned quantities of the Global Hawk have decreased 19 percent, and acquisition unit costs have increased 75 percent. In contrast, the Predator program adopted a more structured acquisition strategy that uses an incremental, or evolutionary, approach to development--an approach more consistent with DOD's revised acquisition policy preferences and commercial best practices. While the Predator program has experienced some problems, the program's cost growth and schedule delays have been relatively minor, and testing of prototypes in operational environments has already begun. Since its inception as a joint program in 2003, the J-UCAS program has experienced funding cuts and leadership changes, and the recent Quadrennial Defense Review has directed another restructuring into a Navy program to develop a carrier-based unmanned combat air system. Regardless of these setbacks and the program's future organization, DOD still has the opportunity to learn from the lessons of the Global Hawk and Predator programs. Until DOD develops the knowledge needed to prepare solid and feasible business cases to support the acquisition of J-UCAS and other advanced unmanned aircraft systems, it will continue to risk cost and schedule overruns and delaying fielding capabilities to the warfighter.
    [Read More…]
  • Equatorial Guinea National Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Slovakia Constitution Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Georgia Man Pleads Guilty in New York Federal Court on Charges Related to Ponzi and COVID-19 Fraud Schemes
    In Crime News
    Christopher A. Parris, 41, formerly of Rochester, New York, and currently of Lawrenceville, Georgia, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit mail fraud related to a Ponzi scheme, as well as to wire fraud involving the fraudulent sale of purported N95 masks during the pandemic.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken to U.S. Mission Canada
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Bruneian Foreign Minister II Dato Erywan Yusof Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Addresses the National Association of Attorneys General
    In Crime News
    More from: December 7, [Read More…]
  • Readout of Justice Department Leadership Meeting with Members of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
    In Crime News
    Yesterday U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, and Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta convened a virtual listening session with Members of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence to discuss the unmet needs of survivors and the ways in which the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) could be improved and strengthened to help to meet those needs. The Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and Associate Attorney General were joined by leadership of the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).
    [Read More…]
  • Iraq Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Iraq [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Momen
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Three Individuals Charged with Arranging Adoptions from Uganda and Poland Through Bribery and Fraud
    In Crime News
    Three women were charged in a 13-count indictment filed on Aug. 14 in the Northern District of Ohio for their alleged roles in schemes to corruptly and fraudulently procure adoptions of Ugandan and Polish children through bribing Ugandan officials and defrauding U.S. adoptive parents, U.S. authorities, and a Polish regulatory authority.
    [Read More…]
  • Department of Justice Announces Charges of North Korean and Malaysia Nationals for Bank Fraud, Money Laundering and North Korea Sanctions Violations
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced a criminal complaint charging Ri Jong Chol, Ri Yu Gyong, North Korean nationals, and Gan Chee Lim, a Malaysia national. The three were charged with conspiracy to violate North Korean Sanctions Regulations and bank fraud, and conspiracy to launder funds. The defendants allegedly established and utilized front companies that transmitted U.S. dollar wires through the United States to purchase commodities on behalf of North Korean customers.
    [Read More…]
  • Sanctioning Cuban Police in Response to Violent Repression of Peaceful Protests
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Judiciary Seeks $1.54 Billion for Infrastructure
    In U.S Courts
    Citing “crucial infrastructure needs for courthouse security, courthouse construction, and information technology,” the Judiciary is asking Congress for $1.54 billion as part of any infrastructure bill enacted by the legislative branch.
    [Read More…]
  • Texas Physician Found Guilty for Unlawfully Prescribing Over 1.3 Million Doses of Opioids
    In Crime News
    A federal jury convicted a Houston-area physician for unlawfully prescribing more than 1.3 million doses of opioids.
    [Read More…]
  • Taiwan Individual and International Business Organizations Charged with Criminal Conspiracy to Violate Iranian Sanctions
    In Crime News
    Chin Hua Huang, 42, a resident of Taiwan, was charged in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia with participating in a criminal conspiracy to violate U.S. export laws and sanctions against Iran.  Also charged was Taiwan business organization DES International Co., Ltd. (DES Int’l) and Brunei business organization Soltech Industry Co., Ltd. (Soltech).
    [Read More…]
  • Four more charged in $35M COVID-19 relief fraud scheme
    In Justice News
    A federal grand jury in [Read More…]

Crime

Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.