The network of schools presided over by the Pentagon has consistently ranked among the nation’s best – even with interruptions wrought by the pandemic.
Supported by years of statistics, news of the phenomenon comes as public schools in places like Maryland and Illinois are still struggling – after social distancing measures threw a monkey wrench into students’ lessons.
Run by the US military, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) today oversees 160 schools – with most being found at one of the country’s nearly 500 military bases.
Serving 66,000 kids of service members and DoD employees aged five though 18, the system last year outperformed all 50 states on reading and math scores from eighth and fourth graders – both key markers in measuring students’ progress.
Released by the National Center for Education Statistic, the test scores showed how 55 percent of DoD eighth graders have reading scores considered proficient – a full 21 percent more than the national average.
In terms of Math, more than 41 percent of middle schoolers in grade eight scored above the grade-level marker – eight percent more than the number representing all Americans.
In comments to the New York Times, several sociologists credited the score discrepancy on standards set by military-run machine, which they said have created a disciplined classroom culture.
The network of schools presided over by the Pentagon has consistently ranked among the nation’s best – even with interruptions wrought by the pandemic
Several sociologists credited the score discrepancy Tuesday on standards set by military-run machine, which they said have created a disciplined classroom culture
Lacking such discipline, according to the National Center statistics, were states like New Mexico and West Virginia, both of which recorded proficients rates near 20 percent for both reading and math.
Helping the DoDEA stay ahead of the rest of the nation, experts said, was that schools within the de facto district – such as like Faith Middle School in Fort Moore, Georgia, reopened relatively quick post-pandemic compared to its contemporaries.
Virtually unaffected, though, has been the DODEA – a system that figures like Marvin West, an education professor at Harvard, said that in recent years has emerged as the country’s gold standard.
‘If the Department of Defense schools were a state, we would all be traveling there to figure out what’s going on,’ said West of the system’s far-flung facilities.
Another contributing factor are the more completive salaries being offered to DODEA staffers – supported by a Pentagon budget that allocates $3 billion to its schools each year.
‘I doubled my income,’ said Heather Ryan, a teacher at E.A. White Elementary near Georgia’s Fort Moore, formerly Fort Benning.
She told the Times how she rakes in $88,000 a year at the military-run school, compared to the $31,900 she made early on in her career in Florida.
Jessica Thorne, the school’s principal, explained to the paper how plum pay bumps such as Ryan’s are not unusual, and help retain staff – at a time where teacher turnover rates have hit never-before-seen highs.
Another contributing factor are the more completive salaries being offered to DODEA staffers at schools like Georgia’s E.A. White Elementary – which are supported by a Pentagon budget that allocates $3 billion to its schools each year.
Jessica Thorne, the school’s principal, explained to the paper how plum pay bumps such as Ryan’s are not unusual, and help retain staff – at a time where teacher turnover rates have hit never-before-seen highs
She further touted how at her school – which has some 350 students – teachers typically have 10 to 15 years of experience, a statistic pretty much unheard of anywhere else, sans top-performing countries like Finland and Singapore.
Those countries’ teachers are also well-paid in relation to the rest of the world, statistics show – a factor likely attracting top talent that then trickles down to the student body.
The outsized budget – comparative to that of city’s like New York and California – also helps in other way, with much of it helping the federal-run system run more smoothly.
For example, the supply closets at DoD schools, staffers and students told the Times, tend to be well-stocked, leaving teachers in a markedly better situation than their state counterparts.
In places like the Big Apple – whose scores for fourth graders were twice as bad as the national average – teachers are often forced to fork over for necessities like paper, pencils, and books, as local budgets regularly fail to cover all the bases.
And while much of the funds secured by the DoDEA goes toward the somewhat daunting task of running schools internationally, roughly $25,000 is allocated per student, the DOD estimates,
That’s on par with New York – the biggest spender out of the 50 states when it comes to education – and markedly more than places like Arizona, where spending is roughly $10,000 a year.
Brown University sociologist Prudence Carter, an expert on educational inequality, told the Times that the discrepancies seen between the Defense Department and the rest of the country are indicative of something greater.
Brown University’s Prudence Carter, an expert on educational inequality, said the discrepancies seen between the DOD and the rest of the country show what could happen when students were given access to things that a typical middle-class kid may take for granted
Another contributor to the DoDEA apparent success, experts said, is their curriculum – overhauled to deviate from the rest of the country in 2015 due to criticism surrounding Common Core – along with the fact that each student has at least one parent with a job
She said the results – released by city and state officials last week – showed what could happen when students were given access to things that a typical middle-class child may take for granted.
‘We aren’t even talking about wealth – whether they get to go to fancy summer camps,’ Carter said, citing resources like housing, health care, food, and experienced teachers available to students thanks to their ties to the government.
‘We are talking about the basic, everyday things,’ she added, citing how soldiers who double as parents sometimes boast six-figure salaries and live in paid-for houses. Also helping, she said, is the fact all students’ have at least one parent with a job.
Another contributor to the DoDEA apparent success, experts said, is their curriculum – overhauled to deviate from the rest of the country in 2015 due to criticism surrounding the often controversial Common Core.
The program – which has since been repealed in states like Indiana, Arizona, Oklahoma, and South Carolina – sought to align standards across states, but was marred by a messy rollout that was worsened more by the pandemic.
In contrast, the Defense Department’s replacement plan was adapted with precision that likely could only be achieved by the military – one that was methodical and focused on one subject area at a time.
Average math and reading scores plummeted during the pandemic, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress
Virtually unaffected, though, has been the DODEA – a system that figures like Marvin West, an education professor at Harvard, said that in recent years has emerged as the US gold standard
The rollout took a full six years – a timeline that finished just as other school scores began to be affected negatively by the pandemic.
The Times noted how the timetable was less than the average tenure of an American public school superintendent, which is a little more than three years
Logistical planning, including a uniform budget, ‘isn’t very sexy,’ Defense Department School Director Thomas M. Brady told the paper, but it is paramount to public schools’ success, he said.
Moreover, prior to the pandemic, military schools still did well but were not ranked nearly as high as they are now – showing how officials’ actions over the past year, aside from only now paying off, could widen the gap even further in years to come.
The schools also have smaller learning gaps between white and students of color, indicating that integration also played a part in the system’s test score success.
Nationwide, the average American child fell six months behind in math due to Covid school closures, with students in the nation’s poorest areas behind two-and-a-half years, a study in October found.
Also helping, experts and school officials told the paper, was that schools within the system, like Faith Middle School in Georgia , reopened relatively quickly post-pandemic compared to its contemporaries – lulls that are now making themselves known with students’ test scores
According to the Education Recovery Scorecard, which gathered a district-by-district analysis of test scores, the average student lost more than half a school year of learning in math and nearly a quarter of a school year in reading.
The report said the pandemic devastated children’s well-being, not just by closing their schools, but also by taking away their parents’ jobs, sickening their families and teachers, and adding chaos and fear to their daily lives.
‘When you have a massive crisis, the worst effects end up being felt by the people with the least resources,’ said Stanford education professor Sean Reardon, who compiled and analyzed the data along with Harvard economist Thomas Kane.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk
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