• This is the third installment of a series of tips for military families. Stay tuned throughout April, as FOX Fan celebrates the military child!

“Aunt Peggie” is a former military-connected child who attended nine schools by grade 12. Her 34 years of experience in school administration and the classroom have made her an expert on all things military and education. “Aunt Peggie” serves as a trusted resource for families and educators around the world, and has answered thousands of e-mails over the years.

1. We are scheduled to transfer to a new base in January. How do we locate the best school for our children?

I would recommend beginning your search by using the internet tool "SchoolQuest™." You can complete student profiles for your children and receive virtual counseling advice, that is particularly valuable to secondary students. Make sure to visit the online library as well.

In addition, you can use the MCECTM Education Resource Library to link to state-specific information on assessment, curriculum, special education services, home schooling, graduation requirements, and more. Through the state report card link you can find school district and school accountability information that will assist you in reviewing local school performance.

For local school information, you may also want to check with the School Liaison Officer or the Community Service/Fleet and Family Support Center. These resources are available through the Military HOMEFRONT Web site.

2. My father is active military. Are there any scholarships that I qualify for because I am a military dependent?

Yes, there are. First, there is the Scholarship for Military Children Program which is sponsored by the commissaries. Look for the application on the below site as early as November and submit your completed application on time.

Next, different military units and their supporting organizations have proudly established scholarships for dependents of current personnel. Some of these scholarships may also be available to dependents of retired personnel. Ask your parent to determine if you may be able to qualify for these potential scholarships.

And remember, don’t count just on scholarships for military dependents. Plan to check routinely with your high school counseling office for scholarship postings starting in late October. Your counselor is your best friend in this process, so share your interests.

Finally, do a scholarship search using a reputable search engine. Your counselor may recommend one developed/linked to your state college planning site or you may want to visit the College Board, ACT, or Princeton Review site (to mention only a few.) The Military Homefront site is very helpful: Look under Troops and Families: Education, and then select Scholarships and Financial Aid. You will see a link for “Military Students” and a list of scholarships and search engines.

The main thing is to start early, get organized, read all instructions, and complete forms thoroughly.

3. My daughter’s birthday is after the required September 1 qualification date for kindergarten at her new school. She qualified in our home state and I don’t want her to fall behind when we go back home. What can I do?

Each state sets its own age requirements for pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and grade one enrollment. It is very frustrating to learn that even a one-day difference can mean that your child will not qualify to attend a public school, but it is the state law and school policy. Ask for a copy of the school policy and any available local options, including private schools. Check with the School Liaison Officer/Community Schools as well.

If you elect to enroll your child in a private school or select another local option, verify the accreditation status of the school. Finally, ask what will happen next year when your daughter is still underage to attend first grade. You could easily be making a two-year decision.

The current state age requirements for enrollment in Kindergarten and Grade 1 for 29 states can also be found in the MCECTM publication, Getting Your Ducklings in a Row, available through the MCECTM website.

4. Where can I find the graduation requirements for my state?

Those requirements can be easily found through the MCECTM Education Resource Center. Simply select your state and then “Graduation/Promotion Requirements.” Many states offer both a regular diploma and advanced diploma(s). There may be requirements in addition to course completions including passing exit level tests and completing community services hours. Be sure to visit with your school counselor to determine any additional local requirements.

5. We are scheduled to move in January and I understand the new state schools administer the state assessment in February. Will our children in third and fifth grade be expected to take state level tests in their new school?

Generally, children in grades three through eight who are enrolled in a public school during test time are assessed. The exceptions could be students with disabilities who cannot take the state assessments with approved accommodations/modifications, or those who are not proficient in English. Even these students will be tested with some approved/developed state instrument to measure academic growth and/or English proficiency.

If your children currently receive accommodations or modifications routinely in the classroom and on assessments or are not proficient in English, make sure that you have a current copy of the recent Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Language Proficiency Assessment Committee Report and contact the new school district prior to arrival, if possible.

6. I am in the eighth grade. I heard about your student program that helps new students at a school and would love to start a program like it in our school. How do I do this?

Great question! You will be able to find all the information you need to get involved with Student 2 Student by visiting the MCEC™ Web site. There you will find program details, as well as a brochure on the program and a list of participating schools. Good news — a middle school program is now underway as well. For information on the programs and updates, you can also visit with our MCEC staff.

7. Our son is in the GT program in his current school, but we will be moving soon to a new school district. I have already called his new school and I was told that I must complete all these forms for screening and that he will have to be tested again! The testing is not scheduled until after school begins and this means he will miss at least two months in the correct classes. What can I do?

It is very difficult to understand how children who qualify for gifted and talented programs in one state may not qualify for programs in another state. The reason, simply stated, is states define their own programs and establish different criteria for qualifying for services.

Inquire as soon as possible about things that you can do prior to leaving the old school that may facilitate qualifying at the new school. Ask if previous assessment results may be substituted for the local requirements and bring copies of those reports. If recommendations will be needed or special forms must be completed by teachers, ask for them now so teachers who already know your child can complete them. Make sure your child has a current portfolio with original work and compositions.

8. I am a senior in high school and plan to attend college next year. Paying for college is difficult enough, but now I am told that the state may even charge me out-of-state tuition when my dad transfers to another state. Please help!

As you are learning, qualifying for in-state tuition is just like receiving a scholarship when you are not living in your state of record. This can be very complicated and you need current, correct information. There is an excellent resource that can assist in determining whether or not you qualify for in-state tuition or a waiver from paying out-of-state tuition: the College Board State Residency. Look for exceptions to requirements for residency or requirements for residency. You will also normally find at least one state university contact at the end of the state information.

It is imperative that both parents and students clearly understand residency policies including the acceptable time-frame for eligibility, the impact of change of major or degree plan, or if a transfer to another state postsecondary institution is permissible.

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Dr. Mary Keller has served as Executive Director of the Military Child Education Coalition™ (MCEC)™ since 2000. The Military Child Education Coalition™ (MCEC)™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, worldwide organization that identifies the challenges the face the highly mobile military-connected child, increases awareness of those challenges in military and educational communities, and initiates and implements programs to meet the challenges. Their goal is to level the educational playing field for all military-connected children, including active duty, National Guard, and Reserves.

Have more questions? Contact the Military Child Education Coalition at (254) 953-1923 or visit www.militarychild.org.

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