Smrekar, Claire, & Owens, Debra
It’s A Way Of Life For Us: High Mobility and High Achievement in Department of Defense Schools
Analyze the academic performance of students in the DoDEA school system, characterized by high mobility and high diversity/integration.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Journal of Negro Education
Vol. 71, No. 1, pp. 165-177
- DoDEA schools simultaneously "do the right things" and "do things right," including the way individual schools -and the system- respond to high mobility rates.
- Students in the Department of Defense schools perform at a high achievement level in reading and writing. The 1998 NAEP scores in reading and writing for all students, and for specific subgroups of students -African American students and Hispanic American students- are the highest in the nation.
- The 1998 NAEP scores in reading and writing for DoDEA schools are impressively high. Students in DDESS were second in the nation, with 38% scoring at or above the proficient level in writing; DoDDS students were fourth in the nation, with 31% scoring at or above the proficient level in writing. This compares favorably to the national rate of 24%.
- Although achievement gaps exist between White students and Hispanic American and White students are far smaller in DoDEA than the nationwide comparative results in writing. All groups in DoDEA report higher scales scores in writing than national averages.
- There is no significant gap in reading between White and Hispanic American students in DDESS. However, a gap exists between Black and White students. Again, all reading scaled scores are higher than the national average for comparable groups.
- Results provide compelling evidence of the benefits of linking assessment with strategic intervention for school improvement and system wide reform against the backdrop of high student mobility. DoDEA assessment systems are embedded within a coherent policy structure that links instructional goals with accountability systems, supported by professional training and development programs.
- Discussion section proposes several education policy levers: strong and stable teaching force, high expectations, individual attention, sufficient staffing, small school size, "corporate" commitment to public education, robust sense of community, racial diversity and integration.
- The DoDEA system provides a counterpoint to this nationwide portrait of educational segregation. The US military was the first major institution or organization to recognize the need to integrate housing and schools simultaneously; this effort was initiated shortly after World War II. Military housing is racially integrated, a pattern that creates naturally integrated schools on base.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, African American, Diversity, Hispanics, Outcomes, Reading, Social Mobility, Vocabulary
Interviews, Participant observation, Secondary Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- This study is a descriptive analysis of DoDEA( US Department of Defense Education Activity) schools that have demonstrated high minority student achievement and high achievement overall, as measured by the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
- Comparison of NAEP rankings of minorities in Defense Dept. and civilian schools
- 1998 NAEP
- Sample includes 15 middle schools in 10 school districts in US, Germany and Japan
- Sample deliberately selected schools that vary somewhat in size, mobility rates, installation deployment and training patterns, pay and rank composition of parents, and in the percentage of children eligible for free and reduced lunch. This selection decision produced a group of schools that reflect the depth, range, and diversity of DoDDS and DDESS schools.
- Conducted in-depth interviews, school and district documents, student/family demographic data, school handbooks, parent newsletters
- DV: Average 8th grade reading
- IV: Parents education, free/reduced lunch status, student mobility