Other Key DoDEA Schools Policies
DoDEA schools are not required to follow the rules and regulations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) because they do not receive funding from the U.S. Department of Education. However, DoDEA schools maintain important and rigorous policies for curriculum, student assessment, internal monitoring, external reporting, and graduation requirements. School Liaisons need to be aware of these policies in order to inform military families about what they can expect from DoDEA schools.
The agency has developed rigorous and demanding curriculum standards in all core subjects. The curriculumstandards provide a framework for advancing every student to the highest levels of achievement by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level or within a course of study. The DoDEA standards for each content area are based on current research and best practices and are aligned with national standards. DoDEA recognizes that standards are important because theyprovide clear expectations for instruction, assessment, and student work and represent an essential component in the process of continuous improvement for student performance and achievement. The standards also form the basis for assessment of student and school progress.
DoDEA assesses students using the TerraNova, which is a standardized norm-referenced test that is administered to students in grades 3–11. It contains multiple-choice and constructed-response questions that are specifically designed to assess skills in each core subject area (English/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies). Also administered is the TerraNova CAT Plus Mathematics Computation Test, which is a standardized norm-referenced test that is administered to DoDEA English learners (ELs). The TerraNova is administered in a number of U.S. school districts. Thus the performance of DoDEA schools can be compared with national averages. DoDEA students in grades 3–11 scored substantially higher than the national average (50th percentile) in all subject areas on the most recent test (2010).
DoDEA students also participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam, which is administered in every state and many large school districts periodically in core subjects. Results from the most recent test in science show DoDEA's fourth and eighth graders scored higher than the national averages, with fourth graders' average score at 159 compared to an average score for the nation of 149. DoDEA's average score for eighth graders was 162 compared to a national average score of 149.
DoDEA high school students also take the SAT and PSAT. Results from the 2010 exam show DoD students’ combined average score at 1,503—up 8 points from 2009. However, the results were 6 points lower than the national average score of 1,509, due to a 17-point difference in math scores.
DoDEA students consistently score above the national average on the NAEP. Minority students have been especially successful, scoring at or near the highest in the nation in mathematics. DoDEA students also maintain a high school graduation rate of approximately 97 percent.
DoDEA schools report data annually, and every 5 years they host an on-site validation visit led by education experts from the United States. Following the on-site visits, the experts send a report that includes recommendations for improvements to each of the schools visited. DoDEA also conducts internal monitoring of educational programs to ensure high-quality implementation of new programs and overall effectiveness of existing programs. Monitoring activities may include, but are not limited to, the following activities: surveys, interviews, focus groups, classroom observations, and the analysis of achievement and training data.
DoDEA has also launched a Web-based reporting system called School Report Cards (SRCs). The SRCs were created as a part of DoDEA's push toward greater accountability to parents and stakeholders. They are designed to help families who may be transitioning to DoDEA schools by giving them an overview of a new school before their child enters the classroom. The SRCs also contain valuable information that will be of use to military leaders at the headquarters, area, and district levels so that they can become familiar with the schools that they will be visiting. DoDEA's SRCs are very similar to the school report cards that are required by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. They both list school contact information, school improvement goals, a school's student-demographic profile, and student academic performance on standardized tests. In the future, it is anticipated that the DoDEA SRCs will include expanded data on graduation rates, attendance rates, and information on elementary and middle schools.
DoDEA students must earn 26 credits or 8 semesters of coursework and maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average in core subjects such as mathematics, reading, social studies, and science in order to earn a high school diploma. The requirements include 6 credits of electives.