By Brooke Scanlan

Military families move from installation to installation on a regular basis. It’s a way of life they grow accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

For a military child, transitioning through the process of PCSing, or permanent change of station, can be extremely hard. They have to start fresh and make new friends, and of course they go through being the new kid at school yet again. Additionally, trying to get school credits transferred from school to school can add to the stresses of moving. Until recently, getting credits transferred for classes already completed has been a huge struggle.

Trisha Dring paints a mural on a wall at Zama American High School at Camp Zama, Japan. | Photo credit Department of Defense

For a long time—before 2006 to be precise—there was no system in place that provided any assistance for military students when it came to transferring credits. Most families brought their new school a paper copy of their child’s transcript, and more often than not, the document wouldn’t be accepted until the official version had arrived. This often caused the school to incorrectly place the student in the wrong class or grade level.

The Department of Defense slowly began resolving this issue in 2006 with the creation of the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3). It was developed by the Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts, the Department of Defense, military families and host of other organizations.

The commission was established to support families transferring between school districts. According to Stephen Hogan, MIC3’s executive director, there was no road map for schools, states or military families to use while navigating through the process of transferring transcripts, immunization records, state exams or extracurricular activities.

“Before the commission existed, there was not a common standard or practice to gain the information and navigate the nuances between local education agencies to address these transition issues of highly mobile military children,” Hogan said. “This commission provides this resource, and is the agent of collaboration for assistance to military families.”

When the commission started, only a few states participated. Today, all 50 states are abiding by MIC3’s regulations, meaning military students are represented by a national organization. Each state has its own commissioner who serves as a representative within the commission. The DoD provides assistance for overseas families and others who are heading to international locations.

“Military parents are welcome to contact their state commissioners, local school officials, school liaison officers, or contact the MIC3 National Office in Lexington, Kentucky, if they have any questions,” Hogan added. “Also, since many military children are deployed overseas, DoD Education acts as its own entity in terms of assisting military families that are transitioned to and from a DoD school.”

Military students and parents once feared a delay in graduation because the school the family was transferring to might not accept existing test results or school records. Now, each state abides by MIC3 to make this process easier and less nerve-wracking for military families and each state has someone to help should these families need assistance.

“In my view, the graduation specification is the highest measure of success the commission provides. The intention of this specification is that the child of military parents will be able to graduate on time,” Hogan said.