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Ask Aunt Peggie

Do you have questions about military-connected students and education? Aunt Peggie has the answers!

Peggie Watson – Aunt Peggie - is an expert researcher for the MCEC and serves as a trusted resource for families and educators around the world. She has answered thousands of e-mails over the years.

Do you have a question for Aunt Peggie? She and her team would like to hear from you! Fill out the form on this page to send in your question.

About Aunt Peggie
Peggie Watson is a former military-connected child who attended nine schools by grade 12.  Her 34 years of experience in school administration and the classroom have made her a fountain of information on all things related to military and education.

Aunt Peggie's Top FAQs

Question:

Our son is in the Gifted and Talented program in his current school, but we will be moving soon to a new state.  I have already called his new school and I was told that I must complete all these forms for screening and that he will have to be tested again! The testing is not scheduled until after school begins and this means he will miss at least two months in the correct classes. What can I do?

Answer:

It is very difficult to understand how children who qualify for gifted and talented programs in one state may not qualify for equivalent programs in another state. The fact is, states define their own programs and establish different criteria for qualifying for gifted and talented services. The good news, thanks to the 43 states that have joined The Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (May 2012), our children should be allowed to continue in these special programs on enrollment. They may, however, be retested by the district at a later date.

Inquire as soon as possible about things you can do prior to leaving the old school that may facilitate qualifying at the new school, ask if previous assessment results may be substituted for the local requirements, and take copies of those reports. If recommendations will be needed or special forms must be completed by teachers, ask for them now so teachers who already know your child can complete them. Make sure your child has a current portfolio with original work and compositions. Exit planning is crucial to a successful school transition.  Visit the MCEC SchoolQuestTM site to help create a transfer portfolio.

Question:

My father is active duty military. Are there any scholarships I qualify for because I am a military dependent?

Answer:

Yes, there are many available scholarships!  Here are some ways of getting started:

  • Different military units and their supporting organizations have proudly established scholarships for dependents of current personnel.  Some of these scholarships may also be available to dependents of retired personnel. Ask your parent to determine if you may be able to qualify for these potential scholarships.
  • Plan to check routinely with your high school counseling office for scholarship postings starting in late October. Your counselor is your best friend in this process, so share your interests.
  • Learn about the Scholarship for Military Children Program and the Heroes Legacy Scholarship, sponsored by military commissaries. The application process begins in December and closes in February.
  • Use SchoolQuest’s College Options Services to learn about your financial aid options. This is a free service for military families.
  • Look for financial aid resources through a reputable site. Your counselor may recommend one developed/linked to your state college planning site or you may want to visit College Board Big Futures Financial Aid, ACT Cost of Education, or the Military Homefront for helpful resources, including scholarship searches.

The main thing is to start early, get organized, read all instructions, and complete forms thoroughly.

Question:

We are scheduled to move in January and I understand the new state's schools administer the state assessment in February. Will our children in third and fifth grade be expected to take state level tests in their new school?

Answer:

Generally, children in grades three through eight who are enrolled in a public school during test time are assessed. The exceptions could be students with disabilities who cannot take the state assessments with approved accommodations, or those who are not proficient in English. Even "English as a Second Language" (ESL) students will be tested with some approved state instrument to measure academic growth and/or English proficiency.

Before a move, make sure to visit the SchoolQuestTM  State Education Resources for information on the state’s assessment instruments and testing calendars.

Question:

We are scheduled to transfer to a new base this summer.  How can we locate the best school for our children?

Answer:

I recommend beginning your search by using our MCEC internet tool SchoolQuestTM. SQ is well suited to anyone who is “questing” for information about schools, college and workplace readiness, transition, etc. The site facilitates the search for new schools through the Find a School option. You can even locate the phone number for the School Liaison Officer if you use the Military Installation option,

In addition, you can select the link to reach state-specific information on assessment, curriculum, special education services, home schooling, graduation requirements, and more. The state report card provides school district and school local school performance data.

Keep in mind: the best fit for your child is the school that matches up with your child's particular needs.

Question:

My daughter's birthday is after the required September 1 qualification date for kindergarten at her new school. She is qualified in our home state and I don't want her to fall behind when we go back home. What can I do?

Answer:

Each state sets its own age requirements for Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 enrollment.  I understand it can be very frustrating to learn that even a one-day difference can mean your child will not qualify to attend a public school, but it is the state law and school policy. Ask for a copy of the school policy and any available local options or waivers. You can also look into private school options.

If you elect to enroll your child in a private school or select another local option, verify the accreditation status of the school. And make sure to ask what will happen next year when your daughter is still underage to attend first grade. You could easily be making a two-year decision.

The current state age requirements for enrollment in Kindergarten and Grade 1 for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Department of Defense schools can also be found in the MCEC publication Getting Your Ducklings in a Row.