The Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, and managing prekindergarten through 12th grade educational programs on behalf of the United States Department of Defense (DoD). DoDEA is globally positioned, operating 163 accredited schools in 8 districts located in 11 foreign countries, 7 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
DoDEA employs 15,000 employees who serve 71,000 children of active duty military and DoD civilian families. DoDEA is committed to ensuring that all school-aged children of military families are provided a world-class education that prepares them for postsecondary education and/or careers.
DoDEA operates as a field activity of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness). It is headed by a director who oversees all agency functions from DoDEA headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. DoDEA's schools are divided into 3 geographic areas: Europe, the Pacific, and the Americas.
Shortly after the end of World War II, the United States military established schools for the children of its service men and women stationed in Europe and the Pacific. Schools for children of military members stationed at various bases in the United States were already well-established. First administered by the military branches they served, the growing number of schools was soon transferred to civilian managers, then organized into two separate but parallel systems: the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (Pacific and Europe) overseas, and the Department of Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (Americas) in the United States. In 1994 the two systems were brought together under an umbrella agency, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).
The DoDEA instructional program provides a prekindergarten through 12th grade curriculum. Currently 100% of DoDEA schools are accredited and in good standing with their regional accrediting agency. Students consistently achieve high scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress and above the national average on standardized assessments. Minority students have been especially successful, scoring at or near the highest in the United States in mathematics.
DoDEA measures student progress with multiple performance-based assessments. The TerraNova standardized test provides DoDEA with results that it can compare to a nationwide sample. DoDEA students also take the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which provides comparisons of student achievement in reading, writing, math, and science. All DoDEA schools are accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), which provide each school with an independent evaluation.
Schools submit annual reports of data, and every five years they host an on-site validation visit led by education experts from the United States. Following the on-site visits, the experts send a report that includes recommendations for improvements to each of the schools visited. DoDEA conducts internal monitoring of educational programs to ensure high-quality implementation of new programs and overall effectiveness of existing programs. Monitoring activities may include, but are not limited to the following activities: surveys, interviews, focus groups, classroom observations and the analysis of achievement and training data. Currently 100% of DoDEA schools are accredited and in good standing.
In 2008 the U.S. Congress published a study stating that decreased military budgets resulted in 70% of the DoDEA schools having campuses in less than ideal physical condition, with their conditions specifically noted as either "poor" or "failing".
A 2015 editorial of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune noted that schools in the DoDEA, were well funded, partly due to post-September 11 attacks security concerns and partly because of the size fo the DOD itself, as well as the leadership of Robert Gates, who served as the Secretary of Defense. The Star-Tribune contrasted this with the lesser-funded Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) network, also federal and serving Native American students.
In 2001 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) wrote "The academic achievement of DOD students, as measured by their performance on standardized tests and their plans for enrolling in college, generally exceeds that of elementary and secondary students nationwide. On college admission tests, DOD students score at or near national averages."
Headquartered in Peachtree City, GA, DoDEA Americas is divided into 2 school districts (Americas Mid-Atlantic and Americas Southeast) and operates 51 schools at 16 military communities on the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. As of May 2019, it educates approximately 22,000 students of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families.
Headquartered in Kapaun AS, Kaiserslautern, Germany, DoDEA Europe is organized into 3 districts (EU East, EU South, and EU West) and operates 65 schools within 27 U.S. military communities across Europe. As of May 2019, the DoDEA European region educates approximately 27,000 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families.
Headquartered in Yokota AB, Japan, the DoDEA Pacific region is organized into 3 districts (Pacific East, Pacific South, and Pacific West) and operates 47 schools on 21 U.S. military installations in Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea. As of May 2019, the DoDEA Pacific Region educates over 22,000 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families.
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