May 20, 2022

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K-12 Education: Students in DOD Schools Generally Score Higher Than Public School Students on National Assessments

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<div>What GAO Found Over the past decade, Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) students in the fourth and eighth grades have generally received among the highest assessment scores nationwide in math and reading, according to our analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data. For example, in 2019, DODEA's average scores for the fourth grade math and reading assessments were higher than 98 percent and 100 percent of states, respectively. DODEA also generally had a higher percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the fourth and eighth grade math and reading assessments, compared to other states. Why GAO Did This Study The DODEA manages a federally-operated school system that provides pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education, primarily for the children of military service members and Department of Defense civilian employees. Since 1969, the NAEP has measured the academic achievement of students in the United States across a variety of subjects. The same assessments are administered in every state, making it the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of American students' knowledge. The most comprehensive state-level data is available for the fourth and eighth grade math and reading assessments. DODEA is treated as a state for the purposes of the NAEP. Section 589H of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 includes a provision for GAO to report on the educational outcomes of DODEA students compared to those of public school students. This report examines the differences in student achievement between DODEA and public school students for math and reading. GAO analyzed NAEP data from the fourth and eighth grade results to compare DODEA student test results to other states' mathematics and reading results. For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or nowickij@gao.gov.</div>

What GAO Found

Over the past decade, Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) students in the fourth and eighth grades have generally received among the highest assessment scores nationwide in math and reading, according to our analysis of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data. For example, in 2019, DODEA’s average scores for the fourth grade math and reading assessments were higher than 98 percent and 100 percent of states, respectively. DODEA also generally had a higher percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the fourth and eighth grade math and reading assessments, compared to other states.

Why GAO Did This Study

The DODEA manages a federally-operated school system that provides pre-kindergarten through grade 12 education, primarily for the children of military service members and Department of Defense civilian employees.

Since 1969, the NAEP has measured the academic achievement of students in the United States across a variety of subjects. The same assessments are administered in every state, making it the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of American students’ knowledge. The most comprehensive state-level data is available for the fourth and eighth grade math and reading assessments. DODEA is treated as a state for the purposes of the NAEP.

Section 589H of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 includes a provision for GAO to report on the educational outcomes of DODEA students compared to those of public school students. This report examines the differences in student achievement between DODEA and public school students for math and reading.

GAO analyzed NAEP data from the fourth and eighth grade results to compare DODEA student test results to other states’ mathematics and reading results.

For more information, contact Jacqueline M. Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or nowickij@gao.gov.

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