If you believe the movies, senior year of high school is a magical golden time filled with almost zero stress and endless college acceptance letters.
And while this may be true for some seniors, life for military children can be a whole lot more complicated. Especially if your family is moving during senior year.
There are some options to make the path smoother.
Learn your rights
All families with school-aged children have access to a slew of rights. The most essential for moving families is the Family Education Rights Protection Act(FERPA). This ensures that families have access to their child’s academic records.
Having access to your child’s record is important for PCSing. When you move and enroll in a new school, you can submit unofficial or hand carried transcripts to start the credit transfer process.
The other, and perhaps most important, set of guidelines to keep in mind is the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3). All states have signed on to these guidelines to help ease the school transition process for military families.
Many states require individual end-of-course exams to prove proficiency. All states require standardized tests in order to graduate.
MIC3 states that receiving states and schools should accept end-of-course exams and national norm referenced standardized tests from other states. The tests should meet equivalency standards and cover the same basic materials in order to be transferred between schools.
This applies for all high school students transferring, not just seniors. It pays to keep your child’s records and test results!
MIC3 is super clear: Students transferring during senior year should receive every effort to ensure on-time graduation from either the sending or receiving school.
Your child’s new school needs to try to find a way for your child to graduate on time. This might mean finding ways to transfer courses from the old school. It could also mean that the school offers your child alternatives to complete required classes online, after school, or by placing your child in classes with younger children.
It could also mean that your child attends classes at the new school in order to meet graduation requirements at the old school. Your child would graduate on time, receiving the diploma from your last school.
Either way, the schools need to work together to make sure that your child graduates on time.
There should never be an instance where a senior in high school is not allowed to graduate due to a PCS move. One or both of the schools should work with your family to ensure graduation.
What milfams need to do
First, request a full copy of your child’s academic transcripts and test results from your current school. Also ask for a current course catalog.
Go through the course catalog and highlight the classes that your child has taken. Keep a copy of the graduation requirements for your current school. Make notes about what classes your child has yet to complete.
When you have compiled all the documents, make additional copies and store everything in a folder.
When you enroll in your new school, bring your copies of the transcripts, test scores, the course catalog, and graduation requirements from the sending school. Ask for the course catalog and graduation requirements from the new school.
At home, go through one of your extra copies of the documents from the last school. Try to make correlations between the schools’ courses and requirements. Make notes about similarities between the schools’ required courses and note how your child has completed these credits at previous schools.
Ask the school to explain how they are going to help your child graduate. If they agree to transfer credits from the last school and work with you to ensure an on-time graduation, perfect. If your child’s credits are not going to transfer smoothly, ask about meeting the last school’s graduation requirements. Remind them of MIC3 and the guidelines the state agreed to follow.
If neither option is appealing to your new school, it’s time to call for back-up. Contact your local School Liaison Officer (SLO) to help you find a solution. They should be able to provide a little muscle.
When the school still won’t budge, you might consider hiring an education advocate specializing in military families. Both the SLO or a private advocate can work with you to help your new school understand MIC3 and their responsibilities and find a solution that works for everyone.
Bottom line: Under MIC3, military children should have help transferring between schools.
This is especially important during senior year of high school. Knowing the MIC3 guidelines can help your child have an easier transition and ensure an on-time graduation.
Has your military child PCSed during senior year? How did you handle it? Share your advice in the comments.
By Meg Flanagan