For thousands of military kids, a new school year means a brand new school at a brand new installation. Military life includes PCS moves and deployments that can create educational bumps and uncertainties for military kids. Fortunately, the Military Interstate Compact can help smooth the way. Read on to learn more!
What is the Military Interstate Compact?
The Military Interstate Compact, also known as The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children, is an agreement between all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. Its purpose is to ease educational pain points military families experience.
The Military Interstate Compact helps to streamline public school policies in four ways for students:
- School enrollment
- Academic placement
- Extracurricular participation
Military Interstate Compact Qualifications
Let’s talk about who can qualify for the Military Interstate Compact. If your child is in kindergarten through twelfth grade in a public school and if you’re one of the following, then you’re good to go:
- An active-duty service member
- A member of the National Guard or Reserve on Title 10 active-duty orders
- A uniformed member of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the United States Public Health Services
- A service member or a veteran who has been medically discharged or who has retired
- A service member who died on active duty
Heads up: If your child’s qualification is connected to a parent who’s medically discharged, retired, or passed away, these rules apply for a year.
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What’s the Deal with MIC3?
In the military world, we often call the Military Interstate Compact “MIC3.” It’s short for Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission. Basically, this is the group that made the rules for the compact.
Smooth Sailing to Graduation
Wondering how this compact can help your child graduate without any hiccups? Here’s the scoop:
- You can request course waivers if your child successfully completed similar, required coursework for graduation at their old school.
- You can request that the required graduation exams your child has successfully completed are accepted by their new school.
- If your child transfers to a new school during their senior year, the former and current schools must work together to make sure your child graduates on time.
Getting in on the Extracurricular Fun
After-school activities can give Military kids a sense of purpose and belonging. The compact helps encourage schools to make it easy for military kids to join in. No matter when they come to the new school, they should have a shot. Schools might waive deadlines or find special ways for them to join clubs or teams. But keep in mind that the compact doesn’t guarantee that a school will add programs or hold spots for military students or that a student will make a team or group.
Easier Enrollment Process
When transferring from one school to the next, these provisions can get your child into school faster and with fewer headaches:
- Submit a copy of your child’s school records to the new school. This “unofficial” document can be used until the current school receives official records from the previous one.
- If your child needs new vaccines at their new school, you have 30 days from the time of enrollment to fulfill the requirement.
- If your new school has a different age requirement for kindergarten or first grade, your child can transfer to the school at their current grade.
How Can the MIC3 Help My Child Academically?
The Military Interstate Compact asks schools to make sure that military kids can continue achieving academically, regardless of when they transfer during the school year. Here’s what that means:
- If your child is transferring while currently in a program like IB or AP, they should be placed into that or an equivalent program at their new school.
- Your child shouldn’t need to repeat classes if they have successfully completed similar courses.
- Your child can miss school for certain reasons related to military life, including deployment.
- If your child has a current IEP, 504 Plan, or Title II plan, their new school should provide services in line with their educational plan, even if more testing happens later.
When School Doesn’t Play Fair
The Military Interstate Compact is a contractual agreement between states, so your school can’t simply ignore it. Do you think your child could benefit from a provision of the Military Interstate Compact that isn’t being implemented? Here’s how to advocate on their behalf.
- Reach out to the school. Depending on your situation, it might be appropriate to have a meeting with a teacher and/or administrator or to write a letter or email. Keep documentation of the issue as well as what you believe the compact can do for your child.
- Contact your School Liaison. If the situation is not rectified, use the school liaison office. This resource is provided by the DoD and is completely free for military families. The School Liaison will help you navigate the issues and concerns you have with your school.
- Get in touch with your MIC3 State Commissioner. If you’re unable to resolve the issue with the guidance of your School Liaison, you can notify your MIC3 State Commissioner of the problem. They will work with you and the school to come to a solution.
Joanna Guldin-Noll writes one of the largest military spouse lifestyle blogs online, Jo, My Gosh! Her writing has been featured in national and international publications. She is currently the social media manager at Military.com and the co-founder of PILLAR, a free virtual deployment retreat for military spouses and significant others. Joanna lives in Pennsylvania with her Navy veteran husband John and her puppy Albus.