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Military School Kids to Get Federal Education Tracking

If you've got a school-aged military child, the Department of Education will soon be keeping a close eye on how they are doing by assigning each military student to a new tracking system  -- all in an effort to keep better tabs on how military kids are doing in school and how the U.S. education system can better support them.

"Tracking number" kind of makes it sound like they are going to be tattooed or implanted with some kind of device. Not so. Instead the "military student identifier" will flag military children whose families self-identify them within an already established data system. Through it officials will be to see how those associated with the group identifier are doing in schools across the country.

The measure, which we were alerted to by our friends at the National Military Family Association (who always do such a stellar job watching the backs of military families), is included in that huge new education legislation that is replacing No Child Left Behind.

As NMFA reports, the legislation is super light on exactly how the identifier will be set-up or how it will work. That means that the Department of Education will be the ones producing policy for it. NMFA guesses that parents will likely be asked to identify on school enrollment forms that they are military (which several states already do). What happens then, or how the tracking numbers are assigned and then managed, are still up in the air.

But if the recommendations from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) on this subject released early this year are followed, the data will not include any personal information, including names of students -- just data on how military students perform. That information will then be used by education officials to develop ways to better serve military student populations.

"The identifier would enable consistent reporting on the attendance and academic performance of military dependent students across the United States, a capability that is not available today," the MCRMC report says.

A similar identifier is already used to track other groups of students with unique challenges -- students in a "homeless" status and students in the foster care system. And 12 states already have that military student tracking in place -- Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, Maine, Michigan and South Carolina. The federal policy, however, will allow students to be tracked regardless of where they move.

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