DOD Overseas Schools:

Additional Assurances of Educational Quality Needed

HRD-90-13: Published: Mar 15, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Department of Defense (DOD) schools for military dependents and civilian personnel located overseas, focusing on the: (1) quality of the schools' education information; and (2) school system's responsiveness to parental concerns.

GAO found that: (1) DOD students consistently scored above the average on nationally recognized standardized achievement and aptitude tests; (2) DOD needed better assessment of schools' effectiveness; (3) 25 percent of the 1988 DOD high school graduates in Korea and 10 percent of such graduates in the Philippines did not meet DOD minimum graduation requirements, but student files often did not document waivers or alternative actions which would qualify them for graduation; (4) teachers' files often lacked DOD-required documents confirming their qualifications; (5) many DOD school advisory committees lacked influence on school operations due to limited discussions, lack of information, and non-voting influences at committee meetings; (6) DOD had implemented drug and alcohol abuse prevention problems in all its schools; and (7) at 30 inspected schools, DOD had corrected over 70 percent of the facilities problems and did not consider the remaining problems severe enough to detract from the quality of education.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A May 30, 1990, memorandum from the Director, DOD Dependent Schools, to regional directors, emphasized comparing DOD dependent school educational performance indicators, and the continued need for improved performance in data collection.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Office of Dependents Schools to use, in addition to standardized test scores, other measures of education quality to assess its schools, such as: (1) attendance, promotion, and drop-out rates; (2) the ranges of courses students take; and (3) how successful students are in meeting college entrance requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A September 7, 1990, memorandum from Director, DOD Dependent Schools, to school principals, through DOD regional directors, directed compliance with DOD dependent schools regulations ensuring specific documentation for school principals waiving graduation requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Office of Dependents Schools to ensure that procedures are implemented requiring school principals to document in students' files the rationale for each exception granted to minimum graduation requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOD Civilian Personnel Office directed the services to ensure that civilian personnel offices are complying with OPM requirements for record and documentation reviews and retention of official college transcripts and SF-171 for job qualifications.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that teachers' files include all documents needed to demonstrate that they meet DOD requirements to teach their subjects and grade levels.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An August 31, 1990, memorandum from the Director, DOD Dependent Schools, to DOD regional directors, established guidelines requiring school advisory committees to annually certify that they have been informed of the opportunity to advise on policy issues such as curriculum and budgets, and that they can evaluate unresolved concerns above the principal level to DOD dependent schools management.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require the Office of Dependents Schools to ensure that advisory committees are provided the opportunity to review school policy issues and to advise school principals on them, specifically curricula and budget issues. This can be ensured by requiring the committees to document that they have been given that opportunity and are aware that they can elevate unresolved concerns to school system management above the principal level.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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