Home > Guiding Principles for Preparing Educators to Meet the Needs of Military-Connected Students

Guiding Principles for Preparing Educators to Meet the Needs of Military-Connected Students

These principles – developed in consultation with leaders of educator preparation programs - serve to ensure that schools of education prepare graduates to meet the social, emotional, and learning needs of military-connected P-12 students. These principles raise an awareness of the unique needs military-connected students have, enabling future educators to develop successful school experiences for all students.

Leading educator preparation programs foster awareness and understanding of the experiences of military-connected students. This is accomplished by:

  • Embedding content specifically focused on the realities which military-connected students face into their existing curriculum;
  • Offering workshops to candidates and faculty, which enhance understanding of the military organization and impact of the mission on military-connected students.
  • Providing an opportunity for military-connected students and faculty on campus to share experiences with school of education students;
  • Working with the institution’s admissions office to identify military-connected enrolled students.

Leading educator preparation programs prepare educators to meet the social, emotional, and learning needs of military-connected students. This is accomplished by:

  • Assuring their school of education faculty is knowledgeable about the realities which military-connected students face;
  • Ensuring that practicum and final clinical experience (student teaching/internship/etc.) include candidates working with military-connected students;
  • Encouraging faculty and graduate and undergraduate students to undertake research on military-connected students;
  • Developing faculty exchanges with service academies and military senior service institutions for increased professional collegiality among institutions of higher education.

Leading educator preparation programs work with their P-12 school partners to create environments that are responsive to the social, emotional, and learning needs of military-connected students and that honor military families. This is accomplished by:

  • Surveying local P-12 schools to identify the size of their military-connected student population;
  • Creating and offering joint professional development opportunities for higher education and P-12 faculty on meeting the needs of military-connected students;
  • Working with P-12 school partners to establish school environments supportive of military-connected students, responsive to their unique needs;
  • Providing extra support to P-12 school partners that have military-connected students with disabilities.

As an undersigned institution, I commit to incorporating the above principles in our school, college, or department of education and will share our successes in this area with the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education so that others in the educator preparation profession can learn from our work.

Who are Military-Connected Students?

  • Military-connected students are: children in P-6 schools, adolescents in Middle and High School and students who are adolescents or young adults in Trade Schools, or Institutions of Higher Education (2 or 4 year schools) that are official dependents of a Military Service member. A military-connected student has one degree of separation from their military sponsor; the connection may be biological, because of an adoption, through foster parenting or with in loco parentis authorization.
  • There are currently 2,000,000 military-connected students whose parents are active duty, members of the National Guard or Reserves or Veterans of the Unites States Military.
    - 1,381,584 of the military-connected students are 4-18 years old;
    - Over 80% of these children – 1,105,267 students – attend P-12 public schools;
    -  Every school district in this country has military-connected students; and
    -  Approximately 10-12% of military-connected students are served in special education programs.
  • There are an additional 144,1911 military-connected students age 19-23. Research shows that approximately 70%2 of youth attend college or university, which, equates to 100,934 military-connected students enrolled in post-secondary education in 2009.

Educational Challenges Surrounding Military-Connected Students

Military-connected students face the following challenges:
      - separations from a parent or caregiver due to deployments;
      - High mobility rates – active duty families move every two to three years (This is approximately three times more often than the civilian
        population3. Students often experience six to nine moves during their P-12 school education);
      - Academic and social challenges attributed to frequent school changes, deployment of a parent(s), return of a deployed parent, injury
        to or death of a parent, etc.;
      - Difficulties qualifying for, receiving, or continuing special needs services due to differences in regulation interpretations, testing required
        to enroll in or receive special needs services, and resource availability in school districts;
      - Understanding and interpreting new school regulations and policies;
      - Elevated stress – making new friends and finding a new peer group in a new school; adjustment to a new school, community, and home;
      - At-risk for depression and anxiety due to relocation, deployment of a parent(s), etc.; and,
      - Adjusting to curriculum and instructional methods or school climate/culture that may differ from school to school.

Challenges for Educators

  • New educators (teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, principals, and others) may not be aware of the social, emotional, and learning challenges specific to military-connected students.
  • Often P-12 schools are not aware of who their military-connected students are or how to support the unique needs of those students.
  • Additionally, higher education institutions may not be aware of which students are military-connected nor prepared to address the unique needs of these students.


1 Defense Manpower Data Center, DRS#5800, May 2011 table.
2 Rate of students attending college or university (70%) came from the U.S. National Center for Educational Statistics, 2009.
3 R. Collins. Five things school leaders can do to promote academics. Retrieved from https://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=9012.