NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Regular Public Schools Lag Those Run by Military

October 9, 2001

Children educated in schools run by the U.S. military achieve higher scores on key tests than students attending regular public schools. According to a study conducted by the Peabody Center for Education Policy at Vanderbilt University, based on 1998 test results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the SAT college entrance exam:

  • In eighth-grade writing, 38 percent of Defense Department domestic students and 31 percent of those overseas scored at grade level or higher.
  • This was second only to Connecticut and above the national average of 24 percent.
  • DOD had more students rated as advanced than any other jurisdiction or state.
  • The majority of public school students perform at basic levels or below.

DOD schools have a much higher percentage of black and Hispanic students -- and both groups posted higher scores in reading and writing than the national averages for their peers.

Moreover, the black-white performance gap in DOD schools was significantly smaller than for the nation in general on NAEP writing and reading assessments. There was no significant gap in reading skills between white and Hispanic students in DOD schools.

There are 70 elementary and secondary schools on military bases in the U.S. and 157 on bases located overseas. Altogether, about 112,000 students attend schools run by the Defense Department.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Military Kids Are Outscoring Civilian Schools," and "Military Kids Looking Sharper," both in USA Today, October 9, 2001.

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