What is the Military Student Data Identifier?
Currently, there is no reliable and consistent data available on the academic well-being of our military-connected children. Although the Department of Defense tracks military-connected children in other ways through deployments or physical exams, there is no data available to track how well our children are doing in school.
In 2014, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission made sweeping recommendations for changes inside the practices of the Department of Defense. Recommendation 15 was instituting a national military student identifier.
After a more than a decade of war, most school-age children today have only attended school during a time of war. This means there is added stress on the home front due to increased ops tempo, frequent PCS cycles and multiple deployments by a parent(s). The Department of Education is considering adopting a national military student identifier to track the academic health of our school-aged children.
Who Are Our Military-Connected Children?
What student information will be tracked?
The voluntary, self-identification of the children of the Active Duty, National Guard, or the Reserves would allow a data element to monitor the education success including:
– Academic progress and proficiency
– Special and advanced program participation
– Mobility and dropout rates
– Patterns over time across state and district lines
As of today, 14 states have adopted the data element in varying forms: Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
While these tracking programs exist independently, they are not uniformed or shared across state lines and vary wildly in information tracked. For this reason, there is a push for a national level of data collection in a more reliable and consistent model.
Why do we need to track military student data?
In 2011, the Government Accountability Office reported that: “There are no data available on these [military-connected] students that could be used to assess the academic achievement or educational outcomes, or determine where funding.
Tracking the progress of the 1.3 million military-connected school-aged students in public school will allow the Department of Education and the Department of Defense to better understand the challenges and needs of military-connected children. With better understanding comes better funding for support and services for students at home and in school.
As of now, schools are unable to answer the basic questions how well military-connected students are performing in schools, graduation rates or if they attend college. Collecting and analyzing data is the only way to predict trends and anticipate needs of these children.
Military-connected children have unique outside stressors such as frequent mobility, attending multiple schools, loss of continuity in education, deployments of parent(s) to war, reintegration and more, which can impact them as a student.
Implementation of a military-connected student identifier will assist educators in more effectively preparing transitioning students for their new school. This will also provide a key performance indicator for the local districts to discover practices and processes worth of attention and replication for students from prekindergarten through grade twelve.
Parents will have evidence-based insights about school districts and campuses. By giving military parents more precise information about how military-connected students are faring as a group, they can be more confident about choices concerning the education of their children.
Will any military-connected student information be shared or sold to outside agencies?
No. States, school districts and the federal agencies cannot and do not sell student information, and the limited information they do collect is used for the purpose of informing policy, practice, and research to improve education and delivering educational services to students (as prescribed in FERPA – Family Education and Rights Privacy Act.)
There are several myths and misinformation surrounding the military student identifier initiative. Get the facts about privacy, data collection and use from legitimate sources such as National Military Family Association or Military Children’s Education Coalition.
What organizations are supporting military student data identifier?
There is a robust list of national organizations supporting the initiative to include educators and military organizations.
Eileen Huck, Deputy Director of Government Relations for National Military Family Association, says supporting the initiative is important to the future of military-connected students.
“We support the military student identifier. We know intuitively that the challenges of military life like frequent moves and repeated deployments must affect military children. However, right now there’s no data to tell us whether or how the military lifestyle affects kids’ academic achievement. The student identifier would allow us to get that data about military students as a group and allow resources to be
directed more effectively to support military kids in school.”
To find our more about the military student data identifier, visit the following sources or stay tuned to Military Spouse Magazine for more updates.
*A previous version of this article appeared in Military Spouse Magazine.