This report assesses the performance of schools in four states with large concentrations of active-duty military personnel who have children in the public school systems. They are Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia. The data, based in part on a common test provided to public school students around the country (the National Assessment of Education Progress or NAEP), present a picture of wide disparity, one in which the academic performance of students in states with military-connected children varies dramatically.
Among our findings:
- A shortage of high-quality educational options for military-connected families and students — from schools to programs within schools — often restricts educational opportunities, negatively impacts educational achievement, causes military families to make tough housing choices, inhibits quick assimilation into school communities, and can reduce a family’s satisfaction with a military career.
- The underlying causes driving the quality of educational experiences for military-connected children are largely consistent and cluster around four key areas: uneven ability to participate in available educational options; inconsistent content and achievement standards from state to state; limited support for military-connected students; and less effective state and school district policies to identify and support military-connected families and students.
- The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, a state-by-state effort to examine and recommend policies and practices affecting military-connected students, can be an effective tool. While Virginia is a leader in implementing the Compact, North Carolina and especially Missouri and Colorado lag behind in utilizing this important lever for strengthening the educational experiences of military-connected students.
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