RAND to Study DoDEA Schools

The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has contracted with the Rand Corporation to conduct a study of Department of Defense Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) schools on installations in the United States. The study, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2014, will look at various options for providing a quality, cost-effective education for the approximately 25,000 military children attending DDESS schools. Currently DDESS operates 60 elementary and secondary schools on 15 installations in the United States.

The study will consider five possible alternatives: continuing to operate DDESS schools; closing the schools and transferring the students to local public schools; transferring schools to local public school districts; establishing a new local education agency covering the installation; and transitioning to charter schools. DoDEA emphasized that RAND’s recommendations will not necessarily be one-size-fits-all. Each DDESS district will be looked at individually and RAND’s recommendations will be tailored to fit the needs of the students, installation, and local community. The study will assess school attendance, performance and graduation rates as well as cost.

Researchers plan to meet with school officials, parents, students, and local community officials to discuss their views on the value and cost effectiveness of DDESS schools. We encourage parents of children in DDESS schools to participate in these focus groups. A schedule of meetings will be posted on DoDEA’s website.

Military families whose children attend DoDEA schools frequently tell us how much they value the quality education and support services their children receive. Our Association is concerned about the prospect of military children losing this valuable benefit. We also wonder about the cost to local school districts faced with absorbing thousands of new students. We urge the RAND researchers to carefully consider all the consequences before making recommendations that could impact the educational quality of so many military children.

 

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