PCSing with school-aged kids or teens is now just a little easier in all 50 states, thanks to an inter-state education agreement that is now law across the U.S.
The governor of New York State, which had been the final holdout, signed a bill including the compact into law earlier this month.
The goal of the compact is to make transitioning to a new school easier on children and their parents. One way it does this is by making it easy to transfer the transcript and immunization records between states. It also gives students the chance to adjust state-specific course requirements or presents alternative ways to complete required course work. For older students, it can help make sure they graduate on time or, in some circumstances, graduate with a diploma from the state they came from. It can also mean students can do remote try-outs for sports or cheer-leading teams before they even arrive in their new state.
That's huge. There is enough to worry about when you move to a new state without adding school to the mix. Making sure your child isn't being penalized for missing California State history in fourth grade because he didn't move there until fifth grade shouldn't be on your list of to-dos. And while the law doesn't require the states to give students a total pass on some of this stuff, it does require them to make sure students have enough time to catch-up if they need it.
Dave Splitek, the program manager for higher education initatives with the Military Child Education Coalition, which helped fight for the changes, said the push for interstate rules was started after a study showed how hard moving between states was on military kids.
"The rules seem to be arbitrary and seem to be built without taking into account that some people move," he said. "They just never thought about moving kids."
Officials have been working with states to get the compact into law for seven years, said Michael Graves, a spokesman with the Military Child Education Coalition.
But having the law on the books, though, is really only a start. Experts find that even in states where the compact has been law for long time many administrators and teachers don't know about the protections it gives, or how to implement them. That's because some of the states who have passed the law haven't appointed anyone to implement it. Others have appointed a team, but the word is still spreading. Gravens said they find that if the school secretary, for example, doesn't know about the compact students are likely not able to take advantage of it.
"While this is a major milestone there's still a lot of work to be done across the states," Gravens said. "Really it's both marketing and training for the compact. It’s getting educators, administrators first to know that it simply exists and then you have to train and educate those people on how to use it."
If you're at a school that does not know that their state has this compact and doesn't know how to use it, you can point them to the official compact website.