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Better Serving the Children of Our Servicemen and Women

How the Common Core Improves Education for Military-Connected Children

First Lt. Jason Felker holds his son at a welcome home ceremony

SOURCE: Will Cox / Flickr

First Lt. Jason Felker holds his son at a January 2014 welcome home ceremony for the Georgia Army National Guard’s 1-214th Field Artillery Battalion in Elberton, Georgia.

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States across the country have always established their own academic standards, curricula, and achievement goals. This inconsistency, however, creates problems for children from military families, who must move and change schools frequently as their parents are reassigned. For these children, moving from state to state not only has significant social and emotional challenges, it also complicates their education. It is critical for states to minimize the strain that moving has on these children; adopting and effectively implementing the Common Core State Standards would ensure that as students change schools, their education is consistent and of high quality.

Common Core can help improve education for children from military families

  • Families can be confident that their children will receive a high-quality and consistent education when they move across state lines.
  • Students will not bear the burden of missing or repeating classes on top of the stress of moving across state lines.
  • Consistent expectations will ease the transition from one year to the next as students cross state lines, allowing them to graduate on time.

Children from military families face unique challenges that can complicate their education

There are 1.2 million military-connected children in the United States. On average, these children move three times more often than their civilian counterparts. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, military children typically move between six and nine times before they graduate from high school. This translates to a move every 18 to 24 months.

Changing schools often negatively affects student achievement, and the differing standards of state education systems only exacerbate the problem. Moving’s effect on student achievement is consistently and increasingly negative; the more students move, the more pronounced their decrease in achievement. Those students who move three or more times achieve a basic level of performance at half the rate of their peers who have not moved, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.

Military families should not have to worry about inconsistent education

What students are expected to know and be able to do often differs from state to state.

Completing Algebra I in eighth grade is often considered an indicator of college and career readiness. Which grade students are scheduled to take the course, however, varies from state to state. Children who move frequently may have to take algebra multiple times or may fall behind their peers because they have not taken it at all.

States with low standards may leave students unprepared for higher standards in other states. What students learn and the levels of proficiency they are expected to reach differ dramatically from state to state. This patchwork of standards and expectations is problematic for students who change schools frequently as there may be gaps in what these students have learned that leave them unprepared for more challenging education systems in other states. For example, using its own tests, New York determined that 62 percent of its students were proficient in math; however, the nationwide and more rigorous NAEP assessment found that only 32 percent were proficient.

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org