Eliminate one stress from your next PCS by planning ahead for your school PCS needs. AHRN.com has put together resources and suggestions for the smoothest move possible!
As your child reaches school ages, there are additional concerns with each PCS. Schools play an increasing important role in housing choices, the time of year you move and your PCS preparation. There are a number of steps you can take before your move to make the school switch!
If you are expecting your child to start school once you move, get a head start by gathering information and the needed documents before you start packing up. Start by looking up the school district your new installation is zoned for and identifying the age cut off. You can also check out “Get Your Ducklings In A Row” produced by the Military Child education Coalition for age cut offs and required vaccinations. Before you move, pull out the following paperwork and hand carry it to simplify the registration process when you arrive.
- social security card
- birth certificate
- photo id of parent/guardian
- proof of residency (many school districts will let you use a copy of your orders if you haven’t set up a permanent address yet)
- evidence of child’s physical exam (check the website, you might be able to print this form from the district website and have it done by your PCM before you leave)
- Additional health screenings like visual, auditory, dental or lead may be required
- Vaccination Records (some districts will require vaccination records to be submitted on a specific state form which should be outlined on the district website)
- Special Requirements Documentation (IEP, learning modifications or assistance)
- Medical records documenting health concerns that will affect your child at school
In your PCS binder, make note of your new school district’s website, contact phone number, the school you expect to be zoned for (if you know where you’ll live), registration date and place, and the installation School Liaison Officer.
Transferring To A New School
Once your children have started school, there is a whole new level of planning and paperwork with each PCS. Communication with the new school is vital. Although we are moving to a more standard set of expectations with the implementation of Common Core, the differences in curriculum, standardized testing and timing of classes can cause educational roadblocks for military children.
If you are PCSing over the summer months, fall sports can be easily missed as the start date is often before the start of school itself. Participating in school sports are a wonderful way to help your child make friends and feel included in their new school. Check the school website or call to determine the start date of any sports your child is interested in, any requirements for participation and necessary physical forms.
Documents you may need for your school age child that should be hand carried include:
- attendance and tardy records
- report card
- withdrawal grades (if leaving while school is in session)
- current class schedule
- transcript/course history (with grading system description)
- class rank for high school students
- testing information
- standardized test scores
- end of course test scores
- competency test scores
- shot records
- birth certificate
- social security card
- activities records (co and extra curricular)
- IEP/504/gifted class records
PCS and Standardized Tests
When you are preparing for your PCS, it is essential that you understand how your PCS affects your child’s standardized test taking. In some states, standardized tests are required for promotion to the next grade level. Depending on curriculum differences, the new school’s test may be assessing knowledge that your child has not learned. Identifying potential gaps and their impact on the school’s assessment of your child’s learning is an essential aspect of preparing for your PCS.
This is an area where you can lean on the School Liaison Officer, who should be familiar with the specific requirements on the new school’s testing and assessment plan.
PCSing with an IEP
For many children, school success is dependent on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) and collaboration between educators, parents and school administrators. If your student has an IEP, advance planning and organization will make transitioning your student much smoother.
Your new school is required by law (IDEA) to provide services that are comparable, but not necessarily identical to those applied by the previous school and IEP. Identifying the person you need to talk with at the new school about your student’s IEP and opening lines of communication before your move is an excellent first step.
Before you PCS, get prepared by utilizing the educators that you have established a positive working relationship with – they are powerful allies in continuing your child’s IEP. Before you leave your current duty station, make sure to prepare for your PCS by:
- request copies of all educational records
- verify that your IEP, evaluation and eligibility determination are current for the upcoming year
- get current teachers’ recommendations for implementing your child’s IEP in writing
- contact your new school before arrival, if you know which one it will be
- utilize the installation EFMP office or MilitaryOneSource’s EFMP Specialty Consultants (available at 1-800-342-9647) to assist with implementing your child’s IEP
- make contact with the school liaison officer as the school you will be moving to, as they serve as facilitators between schools and military families
Prepared, but flexible
Like with any aspect of military life, there is always the potential for the unexpected – short notice PCS orders, housing issues, and any number of other possibilities. The military child will attend an average of 9 schools in 13 years. By educating ourselves as parents on the tools and resources available, we can be the best possible advocate for our children throughout their education.
Looking for more resources? Check out the Military Child Education Coalition.
Looking for more PCS resources? AHRN.com’s PCS Toolkit has the information you need for a smooth, organized PCS!