DoDEA's Background and History

smiling girlThe mission of the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is to plan, direct, coordinate, and manage schools and education-support programs for eligible dependents of U.S. military personnel and civilian personnel of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). DoDEA works to provide an exemplary education that inspires and prepares all DoDEA students for success in a dynamic, global environment. For over 60 years, DoDEA has put students at the center of all its work. This is reflected in all that the agency does, as documented in the guiding principles of its Community Strategic Plan (CSP):

  • Success for all students
  • Trust and respect for others
  • Uncompromising advocacy for students
  • Development of lifelong learners
  • Equal access to quality, rigorous education
  • New and motivating challenges to inspire excellence
  • Teaching with high expectations
  • Safe and stable learning environment

The history of DoDEA dates back to the end of World War II, with the establishment of the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS). At the end of the war, many military-connected parents stationed abroad organized small schools because there was no provision for their children’s education at the time. At the same time, DoD established schools within the United States to serve families stationed at bases stateside. Those were known as Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS). In 1994, the two school systems were combined into a single agency, DoDEA.

Today, DoDEA operates 194 schools in 14 districts located in 12 foreign countries, 7 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico, serving about 84,000 students. All schools within DoDEA are fully accredited by U.S. accreditation agencies. Details about DoDEA schools and their operations and programs will be reviewed in Lesson 2.

DoDEA also oversees the implementation of the Non-DoD Schools Program (NDSP), which reimburses families posted in non-U.S. locations for the cost of tuition, books, fees, and other education-related expenses. Military-connected families often incur these expenses in locations where a DoDEA school is not easily accessible and there are not quality local school options. In addition to providing financial reimbursement, according to a pre-determined schedule, NDSP also provides guidance about local school options and helps coordinate services for service members’ children with special needs.