According to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress testing program, children who attend school on military bases do better academically than students who attend public schools. The test assess fourth and eighth graders in math and reading.
Thirty-two percent of fourth grade students who attend public schools had scores that show them as being proficient in reading. At the military schools, seven percent more (39 percent) students scored the same.
Another impressive finding showed that there is a smaller achievement gap between white and African American students in the military schools, and this gap is shrinking faster than the gaps at public schools.
So how are these military schools preparing their students so well? Is it extra test preparation?
“No,” said Leigh Anne Kapiko, the principal of Tarawa Terrace Elementary, a military school in Jacksonville, North Carolina. “That’s not done in Department of Defense schools. We don’t even have test prep materials.”
Kapiko said that at her school, standardized tests are only used to identify a child’s specific academic weaknesses. “We don’t have to be so regimented, since we’re not worried about a child’s ability to bubble on a test,” she said.
A more likely cause for the difference in achievement levels could be the class sizes of military base schools and public schools. The average kindergarten through third grade class in NYC public schools has an enrollment level of 24 students; in military schools, this number is only 18 students. This number is much closer to the enrollment levels at top-level private schools.
Also, the military puts a priority on education and allows many parents, like Petty Officer Bryant Anderson, to take time off from his job in order to serve on the school board and coach the middle school’s track and basketball teams. When parents are more involved in their children’s educations, the students are more likely to do better in their academic studies.