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Department of Defense Schools Adopt Common Standards

For two years now, we've been keeping you updated on the news of common-standards adoption through our Common-Standards Watch map. We have news for you today that affects that map, but defies easy depiction graphically. Here's the news: the schools serving Department of Defense families have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

The move was officially announced to department educators and parents in two memoranda issued yesterday by Marilee Fitzgerald, the director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, or DoDEA.

It means that 87,000 students and 8,700 teachers in 194 schools in 12 countries will now be learning and teaching according to those guidelines, just like the millions of students and teachers in the District of Columbia and 46 states that have already adopted them.

The standards adoption actually took place on Dec. 15, 2011, I'm told by DoDEA officials. Joel Hansen, the agency's acting assistant associate director for education, said that is when Fitzgerald signed the papers making it official. But the discussions about the plans and procedures for implementation have been "kind of in-house" since then. The agency wanted to take time to notify staff and educators in the system before issuing a public notice, he said.

Hansen described the choice as a "logical step" for an agency whose students have a 31 percent mobility rate. The agency won't necessarily adopt new curriculum materials for the standards right away, though, Hansen said. Its six-year adoption cycle led to the introduction of new materials in math in 2009 and in English/language arts in 2010, he said, and doing that again "is an expensive process."

The agency plans to begin phasing in the common-core implementation beginning this fall, Hansen said.

What about tests? The website of the Department of Defense Education Activity says that it currently monitors student progress with standardized tests. Will it join one of the two assessment consortia that are designing tests for the new standards?

Hansen said that the DoDEA is "considering" joining one of the consortia.

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