The educational options are as diverse as the locations where you may be assigned. There are multiple factors to consider and choices to be made for each transition.
The Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA, operates 160 schools serving K-12 students. DoDEA’s eight districts are located in 11 foreign countries, seven states, Guam and Puerto Rico. DoDEA also offers a Virtual High School option for students. Visit the DoDEA website for information about eligibility criteria for DoDEA schools. Find additional information, register new students or re-register existing students at DoDEA Online Registration for Students.
- Boarding and independent schools: Families might choose a private, non-secular, independent school because it offers a distinctive philosophy of learning or approach (Waldorf education), an international baccalaureate degree or innovative practice free from traditional methods (schools without walls). Independent schools are run by boards or trustees who determine the curriculum and educational philosophy. Some schools are day schools requiring children to live at home. Families choose boarding schools to immerse their children in the school culture.
- Charter schools: These schools are approval by their state public education department to operate independently. Charter schools must meet the same standards of accountability required of traditional public schools, but how they do that is up to them. They have the independence to design curricula and deliver education that serve the enrolled students based on the philosophy of the school or the needs of their students and families. As of 2022, 42 states and the District of Columbia have legislation allowing for charter schools and there are ten charter schools located on military installations in the United States.
- Home schooling: Home schooling is an educational approach and setting implemented by the family. Should you choose this option, check with your local school district, state, or international requirements. You can also contact your local school liaison for help with state-specific information on how to withdraw from public school and homeschooling requirements (ex: testing and mandatory subjects). If you choose this option while living overseas, check with your installation school liaison to learn about home school guidance by country, as host nation requirements and laws vary and apply for military-connected homeschoolers.
- Religious private schools: Faith-based organizations, formed around shared religious beliefs, have long offered their own schools. While the traditional core subjects are taught, faith is infused into the programming.
- U.S. Public Schools: Public education in the United States is governed by federal and individual state laws, which are implemented by each individual state. For example: each state establishes their compulsory education laws (starting age and legal age of withdrawal). According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, throughout the United States, the majority of military-connected school-age children, attend local public schools. State requirements vary, and we recommend that you seek guidance from your local School Liaison for your locations unique state requirements.
- Virtual schools: On-line, distance and remote learning schools operate through the same authority as public schools when operated by the state or the local school system. In this case, they’re typically public and tuition-free schools for locally enrolled students, and they adhere to state standards. Often, virtual learning requires the at-home involvement of an adult, especially for younger children. Globally, there are many private, tuition-based virtual schools available too. If you purchase from one of these programs, it is important to ensure that the school is accredited for the transfer of all secondary grade credits (grades 6-12).
National Education Resources
Around the world, nearly one million military-connected kindergarten - grade 12 students are enrolled in public education. These students move every two – three years because they are the dependent of an active-duty service member. Although these education transitions offer perspective for learning beyond traditional settings, they can also sometimes present challenges for educational continuity.
Based on input from the Military Services, local school personnel, parents and perhaps most importantly from students themselves, we offer these resources to support your work for highly mobile military-connected students.
- DoDEA High School Graduation Requirements: College Career Ready - Graduation Requirements
- Federal Student Aid (U.S. Department of Education) – Provides guidance for completing the FAFSA, scholarship search archived webinars, budgeting, checklists and how to avoid scams. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for-college
- High School Graduation Requirements: State Profiles – Published by Education Commission of the States (ECS), this provides individual state profiles for each diploma, excluding DoDEA. https://www.ecs.org/high-school-graduation-requirements-state-profiles
- Home School – The National Home School Association (NHSA) provides resources, activities, programs and curriculum. https://nationalhomeschoolassociation.com
- National Charter School Resource Center - Military Families The National Charter School Resource Center provides information and resources on charter schools and has a focus area on military families.
- National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) – This is an effective practices and predictors matrix for educators with resources for transitioning children with disabilities. The resources are sorted by: evidence-based practice or research-based practice into three outcome categories: education, employment, independent living. Promising practices are also available. https://www.transitionta.org
- Summative Assessments: State Profiles – View individual state profiles by selecting a state or view a 50-state comparison published by ECS. https://www.ecs.org/state-summative-assessments-state-profiles
- Tutor.com – On-demand, online tutoring and homework help at no cost to eligible service members, DoD civilian employees and their dependents. This is available 24/7 for military-connected students anywhere they have an internet connection. https://military.tutor.com/home
The Partnership Division has vetted the following resources to support education continuity for transitioning military-connected students.
- Enrollment: States waive proof of residency requirements for pre-enrollment in public schools, allowing proof to be provided upon arrival due to military transfer orders. This gives students the same early access as their peers to select classes and plan schedules in advance of arriving at the new school. To find out if your state provides advance enrollment, visit: https://statepolicy.militaryonesource.mil/status-tracker/advance-enrollment
- Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children Currently, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and DoDEA participate in the interstate compact to help children enroll in school, when moving as a DoD eligible dependent. While the compact is not exhaustive in its coverage, it addresses the key issues encountered by military families — eligibility, enrollment, placement and graduation. The Compact applies to interstate moves as well as overseas moves from a DoDEA school to a U.S. public school. The compact does not apply to private or international schools. For more resources about the Compact click https://www.mic3.net
- In-State Tuition Continuity: Many states can now deem a dependent of a service member a resident despite changes in the service member’s military status following college acceptance. In-State Tuition Continuity is state legislation that protects a military dependents in-state tuition classification due to the timing of changes to the service member’s military status. To find out what states offer continuity for in-state college tuition visit: https://statepolicy.militaryonesource.mil/status-tracker/in-state-tuition-continuity
- Open Enrollment Flexibility: Open enrollment is a form of choice: allowing a student to choose their school, rather than attend as zoned for by their place of residence. Currently, 46 states have open enrollment policies. Many states offer military families, with orders, increased flexibility regarding application dates and deadlines. To find out more, visit: https://statepolicy.militaryonesource.mil/status-tracker/open-enrollment-flexibility
- Purple Stars Schools Program: A state sponsored recognition, designed to encourage K- grade12 schools to implement practices that assist military children with transitions/deployments and also recognize military service and civic responsibility. To find out about states with Purple Star visit: https://statepolicy.militaryonesource.mil/key-issue/purple-star-schools-program
DoD Education Resources
DoD Charter School Standards
The attached document responds to 2013 GAO Report, which recommended that "the Secretary of Defense develop and set standards for operating charter schools on military bases and require the appropriate military services to create guidance based on those standards. This Planning Guide, specifically, identifies 5 standards for establishing and operating a charter school on a military installation.
Penn State Clearinghouse
DoDEA Partners with Penn State Clearinghouse to provide Military Child Education Resources. A partnership funded by the Department of Defense between the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, Department of Defense Education Activity and the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture through a grant/cooperative agreement with Penn State University developed materials for school support staff and personnel that includes resources to use within the school setting or to share with families. Resources include brochures, directories, handouts/ printables, and information on informal strategies or formal programs that may assist school personnel and service providers working with military-connected students and families. To view or download these resources, please visit https://schoolresources.militaryfamilies.psu.edu