Arlington, VA — Community, higher education, and business partnerships are often touted as critical links to helping students graduate from high school and making sure that they are college- and career-ready when they do. Now a panel of state board of education members from across the country has found common ground for partnerships with the country’s single largest employer: the military.

A report, released in October 2010, from a National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) study group, Common Ground: Education and the Military Meeting the Needs of Students, examines the desired outcomes shared among educators, the military, business and higher education and how to align these goals with shared best practices.

“We as a nation need to increase our high school graduation rates and to make this happen, we need the best ideas from education, the military and industry,” said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn. “When educators join as equals with the military, it means each partner can aid the other in the interests of students. We must pursue every available opportunity in our drive to prepare students for success in all postsecondary pathways.”

The group determined that educators can adapt many of the best practices the military applies to instruct secondary students enrolled in a cross-section of programs, including JROTC and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe. The application of these practices that give students discipline, pride, and a sense of belonging can be harnessed for use in many school settings. In addition to partnerships, military education programs exhibit a host of best practices that can be used to inform civilian program, including:

  • A holistic approach to a student’s education, including personalized learning plans, planning assistance, and consideration of non-academic goals and abilities;
  • Integrated, relevant curricula and lessons aligned to desired outcomes; and
  • Providing a safe, structured environment.

While much of the work of maintaining programs occurs at the local level, state boards of education can help facilitate partnerships and the use of these best practices through a range of policy decisions. The study group arrived at six recommendations for state boards including:

  • Examination of their policies to ensure that none hinder student participation in programs that help students become productive and responsible citizens.
  • Consideration of instituting cognitive and non-cognitive assessments, such as the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), as diagnostic tools to assist students as they plan for their transition from secondary education to postsecondary life.
  • Leveraging their authority over state school counseling mandates, guidance counselor certification requirements and school counseling programs so counselors can better inform students and parents about education programs and strategies, including military-themed/generated programs, and help them create a postsecondary plan that examines all options: work, college, or the military.
Key Findings from the Report and Podcasts of the Meetings are available below.