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DoD Education Activity Schools Begin New Academic Year

From a Department of Defense Education Activity News Release

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ALEXANDRIA, Va., August 26, 2015 — Nearly 75,000 students are beginning the 2015-2016 School Year in Department of Defense Education Activity schools around the world.

DoDEA schools educate children of service members and the civilians who support them in 12 nations, seven states and two territories. Through its Educational Partnership Branch, DoDEA provides support to more than a million military-connected students who attend public schools throughout the United States.

DoDEA operates 172 schools in the United States, Europe and the Pacific through a worldwide network of 14 school districts and about 14,000 employees. All DoDEA schools are accredited by AdvancED, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts rigorous, on-site external reviews of schools and school systems.

College and Career Ready Standards

DoDEA is strengthening its standards-based educational system by transitioning to College and Career Ready, or CCR, standards and is implementing a common standards-aligned curriculum, instructional framework, and assessment system, officials said. These efforts, DoDEA officials added, will result in an educational system that is focused on ensuring students are uniformly and progressively learning the knowledge and skills required for success at the next grade level and college and/or a career upon graduating from high school.

The CCR standards, based in large part on the Common Core state standards adopted by most U.S. states and the District of Columbia, set grade-by-grade learning expectations for students in Pre-kindergarten through Grade 12. The continuity of the standards supports a cohesive education for the highly-mobile, military-connected student as they move into, out of, and around the DoDEA school system, officials said, noting that no matter where or when they move, students will know that the standards and expectations have not changed.

Coinciding with the focus to transition to CCR standards, officials said, DoDEA will focus its efforts over the next several years on its second priority of establishing the organizational capacity to uniformly improve student achievement and school operations.

Through this priority, called Restructuring for Student Achievement, DoDEA will pursue its commitment to become a more effective and efficient school system by redistributing human and capital resources and clarifying organizational roles, responsibilities and expectations based on leading practices of state and local education.

This priority will involve redefining missions of area and district offices, consolidating districts and allocating resources to support the changes, officials said. Once complete, they added, DoDEA will have a school system that is better positioned to implement and sustain a model standards-based educational system; provide the resources needed to build school capacity; and ensure all DoDEA schools are capable of consistently providing high-quality educational opportunities to all students.

Construction Program On Track

DoDEA’s military construction program remains on track for school year 2015-2016, officials said. Thirty-one schools are in design, and another 25 schools are under construction.  During fiscal year 2016, DoDEA expects to open five new schools funded by military construction appropriations and possibly another four schools funded by the host nation. Significant additions to two existing schools also will open, officials said.

The DoDEA Virtual High School earned the distinction of accreditation for an additional five-year term through its evaluation by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission. Of the numerous strengths prominent throughout the virtual high school, officials said, four were named as especially noteworthy: the school's one-school focus, its blended student support system, its technology-based framework system, and its systems for instructional design.

Interstate Compact

Military families encounter significant school challenges when dealing with enrollment, eligibility, placement, and graduation of their children due to frequent relocations in the course of their military service. To address these educational transition issues, the Council of State Governments, in cooperation with the Defense Department, developed the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.

The compact is an agreement among member states that address the key school transition issues encountered by military children in a consistent manner, DoDEA officials said. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the compact through legislation, appointed representation to an ongoing governing national commission and have developed councils that govern the compact within their state, officials noted. DoDEA has established an internal committee to oversee the implementation of applicable provisions of the Compact in DoDEA schools, they added.