Military families face a unique challenge with their children’s education. New surroundings, new schools and, most important, new and often unknown standards and expectations. Anyone who has ever served knows the problems involved in placing their military child in a new school, especially a school that might not be oriented to the unique challenges that confront military children. When I retired after 23 years, my oldest son was in the ninth grade and in his fifth school! Every time we moved, there were new standards, curriculum, texts, and new testing criteria. We never knew if our children would be ahead or behind and how the assessments were designed.

We worried about whether our children were going to be at the same level as the students in the “new school.” What were the standards? One of the biggest concerns was testing. Were the assessments designed to measure students’ writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills? Were they designed to make our children more college and career ready? Were the assessments aligned with the curriculum?

After I retired, I became a Tennessee public school educator. All three of my children attended public schools and thrived. I have watched as Tennessee has made real progress towards establishing rigorous standards aligned with assessments clearly designed to measure what students know. Tennessee has aligned those assessments with what teachers are teaching.

This is certainly great news for Tennessee’s many military families and their students! When a military family moves from one assignment in the state to another or moves from out of state, they can be assured that their students will be welcomed into a school system that is working hard to help those students meet their unique challenges. They can be certain that the standards in their new school are rigorous, the assessments are aligned with those standards and that their students will be on the path to being “college and career ready.”

Since April is Military Child’s Month, it is important to acknowledge the unique stress students from military families face. They deal with the uncertainties of multiple deployments, long absences, and never-ending relocations. Going into an uncertain academic environment should not be part of that stress. Tennessee has implemented real changes that can alleviate a great deal of the uncertainty for the children of military families.

To learn more about how to support military families in Tennessee, visit