For the first time, public school officials will be required to track the progress of military kids as a group, helping defense leaders, educators and policymakers better understand how the children of service members are performing and tailor support for them.
The provision requiring officials to include a military student identifier in school records was part of the new K-12 education law that President Obama signed Thursday ending heavy federal involvement in public schools and shifting much of that authority back to states and local school districts.
Without the military student identifier, “educators and policy leaders have no way of knowing whether these students are faring well, keeping pace or falling behind,” Mary Keller, president and CEO of the Military Child Education Coalition, said in a written statement.
“The identifier will provide data to inform both educators and policymakers, enabling them to adjust programs, direct resources and adopt strategies that support these students and their military families,” Keller said.
The Military Child Education Coalition has long advocated for a military student identifier, reported Military Times. There are more than 1 million military children in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, with the vast majority in public schools.
The Every Student Succeeds Act also includes language speeding up the payment of federal Impact Aid to school districts that serve large numbers of military students. The Education Department will be required to submit payments within one year after the end of the fiscal year for which payments were allocated by Congress, according to the story.
Another provision would help school districts that serve installations gaining new missions and experience an increase in the number of military children from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next school year. In that case, the school system could be paid the extra amount during that school year.
“Otherwise, payments are always based on the count taken the previous fall,” said Bryan Jernigan, spokesman for the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools. “This would help a growing district due to [BRAC] or some other reason that would send troops to an installation,” he said.