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Making school transitions easier for military

Interstate Compact coordinates efforts across states

Transitioning schools isn't easy, but states that join the Interstate Compact help make the change easier.

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Transitioning to a new school is never easy.

The paperwork factors, such as registration forms, immunization updates, transcripts, educational records and credit transfers, can be time consuming and overwhelming. Ensuring a child's proper grade and course placements are other big tasks to consider during enrollment.

And of course, there are also the emotional factors of starting at a new school.  Being the "new student" is hard. New routines, facilities, people and schedules can be tough.

For military kids, this process can happen repeatedly during their primary and secondary education, so the challenges can be even greater.

According to recent data, approximately 25 to 33 percent of military families are transferred into or arrive from another state or overseas to fulfill military obligations. For some families, this can mean moving every few years.

Fortunately, there is a collaborative effort happening in many states to help ease this burden for military children and their families.

The Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3) is working to leverage consistent and uniform policies in participating states. The Compact addresses key educational transition issues encountered by military families including enrollment, placement, attendance, eligibility and graduation.

Participating states must adopt the Compact through their legislative process, and participation is voluntary. So far, there are 44 states participating. 

When a state opts to join the Compact, it creates a state council based on the requirements of its legislation and appoints a representative to a governing commission that is responsible for enacting rules to implement the Compact.

Children of active-duty members of the uniformed services and National Guard and Reserve on active-duty orders are eligible. Children of Servicemembers or veterans who are medically discharged or retired are eligible for one year following separation. Children of members of the uniformed services who die on active duty or as a result of injuries sustained on active duty are eligible for a period of one year after death.

The Compact applies to public schools only.

In Washington State, the Compact is referred to as The Interstate Compact On Educational Opportunity for Military Children. It was passed by the Washington State Legislature in 2009.

The provisions of the compact in Washington include the following:

  • Students can enroll using "unofficial" or "hand-carried" student records. If official records cannot be released to the parent(s) for the purpose of transfer, there is a process in place that allows enrollment to occur as quickly as possible
  • There are specific processes, timeframes and guidelines in place for official educational records and transcripts to be received by the new school
  • There are reasonable guidelines and timeframes surrounding immunization requirements from the date of enrollment.
  • Kindergarten and first grade entrance ages will be honored appropriately
  • Specific guidelines are in place to honor course and educational placements
  • State and local education agencies will provide the opportunity for military children to be included in extracurricular activities, regardless of application deadlines
  • Special provisions are allowed for graduation exit exams

For more detailed information, visit www.k12.wa.us/MilitaryKids/InterstateTransfers.aspx.

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