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Number of Charters on Native American Reservations Grows

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Charter schools are a growing presence on Native American reservations, with 12 new charter schools opening in the past five years, says a new brief published by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

The organization's senior director of research and evaluation, Anna Nicotera, found that the number of charter schools on Native American reservations has grown from 19 schools on 17 reservations in five states in 2005 to 31 schools on 19 reservations in nine states by 2010. That number represents about 15 percent of the public schools operating on BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) land.

Part of the reason for this increase in the number of charter schools could be a moratorium on new educational programs operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), which oversees the regular public schools on Native American reservations. That moratorium, passed by Congress in 1995, is still in place.

Of the 310 Native American reservations across the United States, 244 do not have a school on the land. Fifteen reservations have a charter school, five have a charter school and at least one regular public school, and 46 have at least one regular public school, the report found.

About 39 percent of the charter schools—or 12 out of 31—on Native American reservations met adequate yearly progress (AYP) in 2010-11. That is a higher proportion than the regular public schools on BIA land—32 percent of those schools (51 out of 159) passed AYP in 2010-11.

The brief calls for additional research to find out more about this population of students and the schools that serve them as well as how to best serve students attending schools on Native American reservations.

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