Year in Review: Common Core and Military Families

Rigorous, consistent education standards are especially important for military families, who move on average six to nine times during a child’s K-12 career. Over the past year, the military community has spoken out strongly in support of high standards that are comparable across states, because these learning goals better ensure their children can transition between schools without falling behind or sitting through material they’ve already learned. Here is look back at what members of the military are saying.

Our Favorites from 2015:

Common Core Helps Military Parents
Military Times
Common Core State Standards offer military families an assurance their children will be on par with their peers when they transfer schools, “eliminating one of the most stressful aspects of military moves,” writes retired Army Maj. Gen. Spider Marks. High-quality assessments ensure those standards meet student needs, the piece adds. “After all, that’s the goal of the more rigorous standards — to better prepare students for success after they graduate from high school… The scores from this year’s assessments will create a baseline against which future years will be compared. This will give parents and educators a comprehensive picture of how each student is progressing academically.”

How to Keep the Army in Missouri: Improve Schools
St. Louis Post Dispatch
States should make access to high, comparable education standards a priority if they hope to attract and retain military installations, a Stimson Center report in June finds. Common Core State Standards provide stability for military families when they transition between schools by setting steady standards among schools. Mary Scott Hunter, an Air Force veteran and a member of the Alabama Board of Education, explains, “Quality education can be a real wild card – particularly when there’s no baseline to ensure quality schools.” The Common Core “addresses the lack of consistency and provides a threshold of learning expectations.”

Redstone Arsenal to Gov. Robert Bentley: We Support Common Core
Huntsville Times
Common Core State Standards will “ensure an easier transition for more than 1.2 million school-age military-connected children who will transfer through multiple school systems in their academic lifetime,” writes Col. Bill Marks, garrison commander of the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. Several other military leaders in the state have voiced their support for the Common Core. “We want all of our children to be college and career ready when they leave our public schools, and Common Core Standards provide the framework to ensure this positive outcome… Highly mobile families, military or civilian, deserve the same academic standards at any school they attend, regardless of state.”

A Matter of National Security: Improving K-12 Education for Military Families
Education Post
Without some kind of guarantee their children will have access to a consistently high-quality education, members of the military “might well vote with their feet and leave the service,” writes Jim Cowen, director of military outreach for the Collaborative for Student Success and a military veteran. “The issue of education standards is an important one for any parent. But for parents who are members of the U.S. armed forces and who move many times during a military career, it is particularly pointed.” A Stimson Center report offers one solution, Cowen explains, which are high, consistent education standards like the Common Core.

Common Core has Been a Game Changer for Military Schools (and Military Families)
The Seventy-Four
Mary Scott Hunter, an Air Force veteran and member of the Alabama State Board of Education, writes that “frequent relocations are part of the job description” for military families, and access to a quality education should not be a sacrifice they have to make. “With little control (and a lot of uncertainty) about where they might be stationed next, quality education can be a real wild card – particularly when there’s no baseline to ensure quality schools… We must not turn back on the important work states are doing to implement standards which are as rigorous — or more rigorous — than the Common Core State Standards.”

Peripatetic Students Thrive at Department of Defense Schools
National Public Radio
Students at the 172 schools operated by the Department of Defense, which have begun implementing Common Core State Standards, performed better than their counterparts in public schools on average on the latest national tests. “Those results are even more striking when you can consider that approximately a third of military children move every year, and 45 percent of students in DOD schools in the U.S. are low-income,” the article reports. Military officials attribute the achievement in part to rigorous, consistent education standards, which the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) began implementing this year.

Department of Defense Schools Award $20M Contract for PARCC Testing
Education Week
In October, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) announced it will partner with PARCC to administer student assessments in the 172 schools it operates. “We are excited about the opportunity to support the success of the children of service men and women attending Department of Defense Education Activity schools in the United States and across the globe,” said Laura Stover, chief executive of PARCC. The move reinforces the military’s commitment to high-quality assessments that provide accurate information to parents about their children’s development towards college and career readiness.