The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: What You Should Know

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All students greet the beginning of the new school year with some combination of excitement and dread. However, for many military kids and their families, the approach of a new school year brings an extra dose of anxiety. Summer is prime season for Permanent Change of Station (PCS) moves, which means that many military children will be the “new kid” on the first day of school.

To help ensure that the transition to a new school goes as smoothly as possible, it is important for military families as well as teachers and school administrators to become familiar with the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The Compact, which has been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia, is an agreement among states that addresses issues that military children face as they move.  It establishes a set of guidelines for schools so military children receive uniform treatment as they transition from state to state. The Compact covers children of active duty military and activated Guard and Reserve. Children of fallen service members as well as those who are medically retired or discharged are covered by the Compact for one year following the service member’s death, retirement, or discharge. The Interstate Compact only applies to public schools and covers grades K through 12.

The issues covered by the Interstate Compact can be broken down into five broad categories: enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility, and graduation. The intent of the Compact is to ensure that children are enrolled immediately in their new school, placed in the appropriate academic program, and able to graduate on time. Some of the specific provisions of the Compact include:

  • Enrollment: Schools should accept unofficial or hand-carried records when enrolling new students, rather than waiting to receive an official transcript from the previous school.
  • Placement: If a child was receiving special education services at the old school, the new school should place the child in a comparable program. The new school may conduct its own evaluation later to ensure that the student is appropriately placed.
  • Attendance: Districts should allow children to miss school to attend deployment-related activities.
  • Eligibility: Students should be able to continue at the grade level in which they were enrolled in their previous school, regardless of age.
  • Graduation: Schools should waive specific course or exam requirements for students transferring during their senior year if necessary to allow the student to graduate on time.

Families wishing to learn more about the Interstate Compact should contact their installation School Liaison Officer (SLO).Your installation SLO may also be able to work with your school district to ensure that teachers and administrators are familiar with the Interstate Compact. You can also check the website for the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3). The site includes information about how the Compact is being implemented in each state and features downloadable brochures with information for parents, teachers, and school personnel. Parents are a military child’s best advocate. Our Association encourages parents to learn about the Interstate Compact and how it can benefit their families.

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