Info Packet Designed to Help Kids Change Schools
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 27, 2002 As more states implement stricter graduation requirements, DoD wants to ensure military kids who change schools during high school still have the right stuff.
"All the states are beginning now to redo their high school graduation requirements," said Joseph D. Tafoya, director of the Department of Defense Education Activity. He said many states now require exit exams and others have a minimum level or number of classes in certain subjects.
"Our students are impacted by all those kinds of things that are happening nationally," Tafoya said. He said it's important that DoD family members understand what's going on and that they'll make their transitions easier if they follow certain basic steps.
Tafoya said military families often move at least once during students' high school years. This can take a toll on students who may not know what to expect from one state to the next.
DoDEA officials worked with members of the Military Child Education Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group, to design an information packet to help students and parents navigate a change of schools.
"We need parents to know that there are milestones they need to address regardless of where they are," Tafoya said. Offering suggestions and timelines help to address questions of their new school districts on what their students need to be on track for graduation, he said.
The packet, called "Chart Your Course: Planning a Successful journey Through High School and Beyond," covers several key areas. It includes milestones students should reach in middle school and high school and information on extracurricular activities that are common to the most schools.
It also includes an "academic passport" that contains a four-year plan recommended by the Military Child Education Coalition.
Tafoya said it's vital for parents to be active in helping their children make successful school transitions. "No matter how dedicated our teachers and counselors are, the parent has to be the one who is the advocate for the child," he said.
Parents and students must take "responsibility to ensure all those requirements they need not only for graduation but also for college placement are done," Tafoya said. "No one can be the advocate that a parent can be. We believe this material will help the parent be a better advocate."
Copies of the packet are being distributed to all 7th- through 11th-grade students in DoD schools worldwide. Parents of students not in DoD schools can request a copy by contacting the coaltion's Ana Hernandez at (254) 953- 1923 or ana.Hernandez@militarychild.org.
The coalition also has information on successful school transitions on the group's web page at http://www.militarychild.org/CheckList.cfm.