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Military families know the drill. They know what it means to pack up and move to a different installation, a new house, a new life — often with very little notice. Military family websites and YouTube videos abound with moving checklists and how-tos for all types of families and relocations. For parents, however, it is the school transition for their children that can make a permanent change of station (PCS) especially daunting. Indeed, changing schools — educational disruption — is regularly identified by military families as the most difficult of part of moving.

At the request of the Military Child Education Coalition® (MCEC) in February 2017, the Centerfor Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University (CPRL) set out to understand the current state of school transitions and military-connected students (Grades K-12). In our report that is informed by a comprehensive literature review, we describe our insights from conducting more than 70 interviews of school personnel, district administrators, parents, students, and other stakeholders.