Military revises its recruitment policy in regard to virtual students

In March of last year, Keeping Pace was one of many voices in the K-12 online world to raise questions around an outdated military policy that included online high school graduates with correspondence school graduates when determining military eligibility. The original policy was designed to limit the number of recruits from correspondence schools, as the military’s research had shown them to be less likely to finish their term of service than students from traditional schools. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Obama on 12/31/11, updates the policy in section 532. The new policy states that all secondary school graduates shall be treated equally for purposes of recruitment and enlistment, as long as the graduate receives a diploma from a legally operating school that is in compliance with state laws.

Additionally, it requests the Secretary of Defense to prescribe a new recruitment and enlistment policy within 180 days to determine who are qualified for recruitment and enlistment—suggesting perhaps based on aptitude or personality assessments—as well as using data to analyze the success rates of different types of recruits.

This updated policy not only opens the door for virtual school graduates to receive equal consideration in the military recruiting process, but puts a framework in place for reviewing outcomes to learn from successes and failures. We have been discussing quality and accountability extensively lately, and have suggested a shift to determining quality based on outcomes. If the Department of Defense implements a procedure to do just that, the education world could learn some lessons.

The new policy:



(1) EQUAL TREATMENT.—For the purposes of recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces, the Secretary of a military department shall treat a graduate described in paragraph (2)  in the same manner as a graduate of a secondary school (as defined in section 9101(38) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 7801(38)).

(2) COVERED GRADUATES.—Paragraph (1) applies with respect to person who—

(A) receives a diploma from a secondary school that is legally operating; or

(B) otherwise completes a program of secondary education in compliance with the education laws of the State in which the person resides.

(b) POLICY ON RECRUITMENT AND ENLISTMENT.—Not later than  180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary  of Defense shall prescribe a policy on recruitment and enlistment that incorporates the following: H. R. 1540—107

(1) Means for identifying persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are qualified for recruitment and enlistment in the Armed Forces, which may include the use of a non-cognitive aptitude test, adaptive personality assessment, or other operational attrition screening tool to predict performance, behaviors, and attitudes of potential recruits that influence attrition  and the ability to adapt to a regimented life in the Armed  Forces.

(2) Means for assessing how qualified persons fulfill their enlistment obligation.

(3) Means for maintaining data, by each diploma source, which can be used to analyze attrition rates among qualified persons.

(c) RECRUITMENT PLAN.—As part of the policy required by subsection (b), the Secretary of each of the military departments shall develop a recruitment plan that includes a marketing strategy for targeting various segments of potential recruits with all types of secondary education credentials.

(d) COMMUNICATION PLAN.—The Secretary of each of the military departments shall develop a communication plan to ensure that the policy and recruitment plan are understood by military recruiters.