Here’s how the Air Force rates public education services at your base

Air Force families – and other military families stationed at Joint Air Force bases – have new information on key quality of life issues at facilities, with a base-by-base assessment for them. public education services and the portability of military spouses’ licenses to practice.

This is the second year that the Air Force has conducted this comprehensive assessment of these issues in the communities around the 157 Air Force bases. The first, published in 2020, was based on data from 2019. This assessment is based on public data available in May 2021.

The assessment used publicly available data for school districts to assess school performance, school climate, and service offerings. An Air Force team assessed pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public school districts in the Air Force facilities military housing area, defined as the geographic areas in which military personnel are expected to seek housing community.

The service offers include pre-kindergarten classes; student-advisor ratios; student-support ratios in mental health; student-nurse ratios; and student-teacher ratios. These offerings facilitate transitions and provide emotional academic support to students. The overall score is based on 60% on academic results, 20% on the school climate and 20% on service offers.

The report compares the public education opportunities at the 157 Air Force facilities and ranks them based on these results. It does not provide numeric rankings, but divides them into thirds to provide information about the position of a particular base relative to all other bases. It color codes the overall results and each component of the results. A “red” code means the base is in the lower third, described as the least favorable to military families; “Yellow” means moderately favorable and “green” means that it is one of the most favorable bases.

Bases moving up or down

Seventeen Air Force bases saw their rankings improve this year for public education support, and 18 fell. Many of those that have improved are Air National Guard bases, but among the active-duty bases that have made gains include Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and Mountain Home Air Force Base, in Idaho, who rose from the middle of the three levels to the highest level. Vance AFB, Oklahoma; Holloman AFB, New Mexico; and Scott AFB, Illinois, moved from low to intermediate.

Some of the active duty bases that fall at the high end of the “most favorable” level for education include Luke AFB, Ariz .; Beale AFB, Los Angeles AFB and Vandenberg AFB, California; Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts; Whiteman AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Arnold AFB, Tennessee; Sheppard AFB, Texas; and Hill AFB, Utah.

Among the active duty bases that sank into the assessment was Goodfellow AFB, Texas, which moved from the upper level of public education support to the lower level. Others have moved from the middle level, which was previously moderately favorable, to the lower end, with the least favorable education services. They include: Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Fairchild AFB and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. ; Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; and Shaw AFB, South Carolina.

At the bottom of the scale, the “least favorable” active duty bases are the US Air Force Academy, Colorado; Maxwell AFB, Alabama; Little Rock AFB, Arkansas; Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado; MacDill AFB and Tyndall AFB, Florida; Robins AFB, Georgia; McConnell AFB, Kansas; Barksdale AFB, Louisiana; Columbus AFB, Mississippi; Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; and Laughlin AFB, Texas.

Many bases are squarely in the middle of the upper and middle levels.

Transfer of professional licenses

Officials also looked at the ease of transferring professional licenses, a significant issue for spouses.

The assessment provides the same color coding to assess the portability of the license to practice, but does not rank the bases against each other regarding this issue. Policies regarding license portability depend on state laws and regulations.

In this year’s assessments, two states – Idaho and South Dakota – moved from yellow to green, with progress made in portability efforts for virtually every profession. But South Carolina has been demoted from green to yellow, due to legislation passed that increased licensing requirements.

The occupations assessed are accounting, cosmetology, emergency medical services, engineering, law, nursing, physiotherapy, psychology, teaching and “other professions”. Some states have made changes to the portability of certain professions. For example, although California has a rating of “red” or less, there has been a change to change the portability of accounting licenses in that state from “red” to “green”.

The air force takes the lead

Education and license portability are issues that have long been identified as key components of quality of life, retention and family readiness for all military families.

The Air Force is the only branch of service that has undertaken these comprehensive public education assessments around its bases and made them public. The assessment gives military families an overview of the state of public education opportunities at each individual base, with maps of the local school districts that serve the base.

By analyzing state-level information, the assessment also assesses the ease of transferring professional licenses from a spouse to the state where that base is located. The process is often expensive and time consuming, delaying a spouse’s ability to pursue a career in new locations.

The evaluation serves other purposes as well.

The results of these assessments are one of many factors considered in the Air Force’s strategic base decisions. In this process, Air Force officials will collect additional data to update local school and licensure information.

The publicly available results also provide information on what local and state authorities can do to reduce the challenges for military families. According to the Air Force’s announcement of the 2021 assessment results, there has been increasing discussion among local school districts, local government officials and the Air Force that focused on the how communities can understand the needs of children related to the military and provide the best opportunities for support.

“A lot of those discussions turned into action, which helped the facilities improve their overall academic performance,” officials said.

On the issue of the ease of transfer of professional licenses, Air Force officials found that more than 60 state laws related to the exercise license of military spouses have helped to remove some obstacles, accelerate processing times and reduce costs. A number of efforts are underway, spurred by more than a decade of work by the DoD Liaison Office.

The effects of the pandemic

Many schools across the country have been severely affected by the pandemic over the past year. In their snapshot, officials said that to date COVID has not impacted any of the data they use in their analysis, but that they will continue to assess the impacts COVID may have on people. criteria they use. Based on the different survey periods for education data sources (2017-2018; 2018-2019 and 2019-2021), many periods fall just before or just at the onset of the pandemic. The Air Force uses the latest data released by the Department of Education and Stanford Education Data Archive.

To develop the assessment, Air Force officials worked with national-level policy professionals and subject matter experts to develop the criteria and framework for assessing military family support each year.

Here is more information on the assessment and methodology.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for over 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families “. She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Florida, and Athens, Georgia.

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