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MCEC is the national advocate for Purple Star Schools, a program that supports military-connected children as they relocate to new schools due to a parent’s change in duty station. 

Military children move every two to three years. The Purple Star School program is designed to help schools respond to the educational and social-emotional challenges military-connected children face during their transition to a new school and keep them on track to be college, workforce, and life-ready. Military-connected refers to children of service members on active duty, and in the National Guard and Reserves. 

MCEC is the nation’s most complete resource for states seeking to start a Purple Star School program. We stand ready to offer guidance and serve in a consultative role every step of the way. As of October 10, 2023, 38 states have received Purple Star School designation, and four states have proposed/pending legislation:

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To better understand the landscape around and impact of the Purple Star program, MCEC partnered with the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University (CPRL) in 2020 to conduct a study of the program across four states. In 2021, CPRL and MCEC released a summary report of findings related to the landscape of the program, including recommendations for improvements at the school, district, and state levels. Read the original report here.

A new 2022 report builds on the findings from the 2021 summary and provides additional detail on how the program has been implemented over time. It specifically focuses on how the program has evolved and how stakeholders have worked to ensure rigor and sustainability. 


Drawing on research across six focus states, this report reviews the benefits of, and challenges associated with program requirements, provides insights on program administration at various levels, discusses the effects of COVID-19 on PSS, and provides recommendations at the state, district, and school levels to improve and expand the initiative. 

Read the 2022 Purple Star Research Reports here:





Once your state begins a program, we also offer support to individual schools seeking designation as a Purple Star School. 

Learn more about Purple Star Schools and how your state can begin the process below. And if you have any questions, please contact Amanda Woodyard, MCEC Vice President of Education Services. She is available at

MCEC Issue Paper: Purple Star School Designation Program  
Click here to Download


Suggested Use for Military Student Indentifier Code
Click here to Download FAQ


Virtual Town Hall  | Recorded on October 6, 2020
Learn How to Launch a Purple Star School Program 
Click here to View Recording
  • Guidance Documents & Training Materials
    Overview The following documents provide general guidance and information related to military-connected students. They are designed to provide technical assistance for school officials, administrators, and teachers in formulating local policies and decisions. Special Education Guidance Transfer of Children with Disabilities and Special Education Protections Briefing (PDF) Guidance for Military Families with Students in Special Education (PDF) Graduation Requirements Providing Flexibility to Military Transfer Students to Facilitate On-Time Graduation – April 29, 2011, Superintendent’s Memo Alternate Provisions for Military Transfer Students to Meet Graduation Requirements – April 1, 2011, Superintendent’s Memo Flexibility in Health and Physical Education Requirements to Facilitate On-Time Graduation for All Transfer Students – April 18, 2014, Superintendent’s Memo Requirements for First Time Transfers to a Virginia Public School by Grade level and School Year Overview (Word) Enrollment Issues Open Enrollment for Military Students and Enrollment for Military Families In Temporary Housing – June 15, 2018, Superintendent’s Memo Guidance for Enrollment in Kindergarten for Military Children – July 15, 2011, Superintendent’s Memo Children on Military Personnel Relocated to Military Housing – September 1, 2006, Superintendent’s Memo Implementing the Interstate Compact Guidance for Treating Students Transferring from Department of Defense (DOD) Schools for the Purpose of Implementing the Interstate Compact – April 15, 2011, Superintendent’s Memo Superintendent’s Memo on Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children – August 6, 2010, Superintendent’s Memo Briefing & Training Materials Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3) Resource Materials
  • Questions
    For questions about or assistance with the application process, please contact Dr. Kaitlin Quigley, Coordinator of Special Projects, at or 410-767-0476. For questions regarding the Purple Star Schools Program, please contact Mary Gable, Assistant State Superintendent, at or 410-767-0472. Thank you for your commitment to Maryland's military-connected students, and MSDE looks forward to celebrating your school's success as a Purple Star School! Contact: Kaitlin Quigley, Ph.D. Coordinator of Special Projects, Division of Student Support, Academic Enrichment, and Educational Policy Office: (410) 767-0476 Purple Star School Application
  • Welcome
    Purple Star Schools Program ​The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has released the inaugural Purple Star Schools application. This prestigious recognition program, established by Education Article 7-129 and approved by the Maryland General Assembly in 2022, honors schools that go above and beyond to support military-connected students and their families. If your school is dedicated to creating a welcoming and supportive environment for these students, now is the time to apply for this esteemed designation. About Maryland's Purple Star Schools Program In February 2023, the Maryland State Board of Education adopted COMAR 13A.06.10 Purple Star Schools Program. To attain Purple Star designation, schools must meet, at a minimum, the four criteria outlined in COMAR 13A.06.10. They are: Military Liaison: A staff member should be designated as military liaison, serving as the point of contact for newly enrolled military-connected students and their families. This person is also tasked with coordinating support programs for this population, connecting the students to needed resources, and generally aiding in their transition into the school. The school must have a process in place to identify and track military-connected students, including those with parents or guardians currently serving on active duty, in the reserves, or in the National Guard. Digital Resources: The school’s website must have an easily accessible page of resources for military-connected students and their families. This page should include information that facilitates a smooth transition to the school, including the process for enrolling in the school and transferring records, preparing for moving schools, academic requirements, and available support services. Peer-Led Transition Program: Whenever possible, schools should offer a student-led program tasked with orienting the student to both the physical and academic environments of the school through activities such as campus tours and a military-connected student orientation. If requested, this program should also offer military-connected students the opportunity to have a student leader accompany them throughout campus during their first week of enrollment. Staff Training: School staff should receive appropriate training and professional development aimed at fostering an understanding of the unique challenges faced by military-connected students so that they may provide appropriate support. These training opportunities will be coordinated by the school’s designated military liaison. Schools seeking Purple Star designation should be prepared to demonstrate that they have taken supplementary measures to provide top-notch support to military-connected students in addition to meeting the criteria outlined above.
  • Tips
    Application Details Application Deadline: The application is now open and will close on November 28th. Interested schools must their applications prior to this deadline to be considered for this year's designation. Who Can Submit: All public schools in Maryland are eligible to apply for the Purple Star School designation. How to Apply: The Purple Star Schools application can be found here. Supporting documentation requested throughout the application should be sent to Why Apply? Recognition: Becoming a Purple Star School is a mark of distinction. It indicates that the school is dedicated to serving military-connected students and their families, which can boost the school's reputation and community engagement. Impact: By creating a supportive environment for military-connected students, Purple Star Schools positively impact their educational experience and well-being, fostering a sense of belonging and stability. This is essential to furthering Maryland’s goal of providing an excellent and equitable education for all students.
  • Application Guidance and Support
    Application Guidance and Support To aid schools in preparing competitive applications, MSDE has developed an evaluation rubric and is offering four technical assistance sessions. Additionally, MSDE will hold office hours to answer questions and provide guidance and support in completing the application. The dates and times of these sessions are as follows: Technical Assistance Sessions: Friday, September 22nd from 9-10 am Wednesday, September 27th from 10-11 am Thursday, October 5th from 1-2 pm Tuesday, October 10th from 3-4 pm Office Hours : Thursday, October 19th, from 10-11 am Wednesday, October 25th from 10-11 am Friday, November 3rd from 10-11 am
  • How does your state start a Purple Star Program?
    There are two ways in which states launch a Purple Star School designation program. In a more formal process, states can pass legislation establishing a program. The advantage of this method is that it may allow for budget allocations in support of the program. For an example of Purple Star legislation and process, click here. States may also take a more informal route by having the state department of education establish and manage the program. The advantage here is that the passage of legislation is not required for this option. Learn more about the Purple Star School programs in Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia (called Military Flagship Schools), and Indiana. One of the most important aspects of any state program is ensuring the local education agencies and school districts are aware of the program and that they disseminate applications to local schools to encourage them to apply for a Purple Star School designation. This can be achieved through online brochures and other outreach. MCEC is available to support states, local education agencies and school districts with guidance on establishing, implementing and promoting a Purple Star School program. There are helpful resources in the last section to get you started. Contact MCEC for support with your Purple Star School program.
  • Purple Star Schools in the News
    New Hampshire starts up statewide Purple Star program Department of Defense names the Purple Star designation a new priority Texas designates 106 campuses as Purple Star Schools More states should focus on supporting the needs of military kids Purple Star designation can help local communities retain bases Two Schools named 2020 Purple Star Schools in Fairfax County. Va. Several Ohio schools earn Purple Star award More Ohio schools receive the Purple Star Indiana’s inaugural class of 60 Purple Star Schools South Carolina gives Purple Star designation to schools in 10 districts. Scores of schools in North Carolina earn Purple Star recognition Virginia’s big push to designate Purple Star Schools
  • What is a Purple Star School?
    A Purple Star School is a public or charter school that has committed to supporting the unique educational and social-emotional needs of military-connected children. These schools recognize that military-connected students must move whenever their active-duty parent receives a relocation order (called a Permanent Change of Station) and will uproot and change schools far more often than their civilian peers. In fact, a military-connected child can expect to move six to nine times from kindergarten through their high school graduation, with approximately 200,000 students transitioning to a new school in any given year. How they help Purple Star Schools help military-connected students transition successfully with measures that include: Training a staff member to ease entry into the new academic environment, Student-led programs to help create social connections, A military family webpage on the school website to inform parents, and Relevant professional development opportunities for additional school staff. State programs may require schools to meet additional criteria such as holding school-wide military recognition events that encourage tolerance and inclusion. A primary goal of these programs is to ensure that staff can help manage the challenges military-connected children face when they move between schools with different cultures, curricula, standards, course offerings, schedules and graduation requirements. Purple Star Schools are especially attentive to students who arrive mid-year, missing out on the normal cycles of sports and club activities. Finally, Purple Star Schools acknowledge that every military-connected child has left behind friends and support networks and may be dealing with a parent who is away from home on deployment. State-led programs A national, grassroots effort, the Purple Star School initiative encourages states to develop a certification program that designates qualifying schools as friendly to, and familiar with, the unique education and social-emotional needs of military-connected children. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to Purple Star School programs, most states create an application process in which schools apply for designation as a Purple Star School by showing they have, at a minimum, met the four basic criteria noted above. Learn more about the criteria under the requirements section below. The initiative has been so successful in certain states, military parents now routinely seek out Purple Star Schools for their children due to the level of support they can expect from these schools and their awareness of the challenges of life in a military family. School District programs The Purple Star School initiative is intentionally flexible: individual school districts are encouraged to start a program when their state department of education is unable to do so. MCEC can provide comprehensive guidance and consultation for states and school districts seeking to launch a program.
  • MCEC Purple Star School contact and resources for starting a Purple Star School program.
    MCEC is available every to step of the way to support states, local education agencies and school districts with guidance on establishing, implementing and promoting a state program. Please reach out to our contact for Purple Star Schools – Amanda Woodyard, MCEC Vice President of Education Services. She is available at For those considering starting a Purple Star School program, here are some helpful resources: See how states are implementing Purple Star School programs in Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia (called Military Flagship Schools), and Indiana and Montana. See how Texas is using legislation to create its Purple Star School program here See how South Carolina promotes its Purple Star School program to military families and educators: – South Carolina’s state brochure on Purple Star Schools. – Memo from South Carolina’s Superintendent for Education to district superintendents, principals and school liaison officers from the military inviting them to learn more about the state’s Purple Star School program. Read more about Purple Star Schools in MCEC's On the Move® magazine. Learn what one military parent and expert in school transitions says about Purple Star Schools.
  • Why does America need Purple Star Schools?
    Eighty percent of America’s military-connected children attend public schools. In every state with a military installation, there will be military-connected children transitioning into and out of nearby public schools because of a parent's Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders. With an estimated 1.2 million active-duty military-connected children enrolled in schools in the United States and abroad, the number of children affected by these transitions is significant. To date, there are only nine states with Purple Star School programs. MCEC’s goal is that every state in the nation should commit to our military families by initiating a Purple Star School designation program. Why states should start up a Purple Star Schools Program: It will help the military service members who make their home in your state while they serve our country. The Purple Star certification lets them know that a school is dedicated to helping their child gain the educational skills necessary to be life-, work- and college-ready. The certification signals that a school supports the social and emotional wellbeing of military kids adjusting to new schools and the absence of a parent during deployment. It is consistent with your state’s commitment to helping military-connected children transition into new schools. All states have obligations under the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. A statewide Purple Star School program shares the Compact’s goals of ensuring that military children transition successfully into new schools and stay on track for graduation. It will help protect your state revenue. The U.S. military is now including the quality of K-12 schools near military facilities as part of its calculus in deciding future basing and personnel decisions. Communities with Purple Star Schools can help retain bases and attract military families who bring economic benefits to local communities.
  • How does a Purple Star School program help meet state obligations?
    All 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. This Compact is an agreement among states to provide uniform treatment for military children moving to new school districts. Its goals include ensuring that military-connected children are immediately enrolled in their new school after a move, placed in the appropriate academic program, and are able to graduate on time. Because compacts are passed through a state’s legislature and signed into law by the governor, they carry the same weight as statutory law. Many states are challenged to find ways to support their commitment to the Compact. While the Purple Star Program is not endorsed by, nor associated with the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3), which administers the Compact, creating a Purple Star School program is a method that some states have chosen to implement on their own. Such a program encourages schools to help address transition issues for military children in a timely and consistent manner, and the Commission is appreciative of any state doing more to support military families and children. Purple Star Schools offer even wider benefits to schools and communities: Purple Star Schools foster diverse, inclusive and supportive school environments through their initiatives and trainings, which serves all students, regardless of military connection. Purple Star Schools enhance local economies by attracting military families who will buy or rent and become active participants in these communities. Locating the nearest Purple Star School is often the first thing parents do upon receiving relocation orders.
  • What are the requirements for a Purple Star School?
    Once a state has launched a Purple Star School designation program, the state department of education will establish an application process, which is then promoted to schools through local education agencies and school districts. For examples of established programs, see the Texas and Virginia application webpages. In the states that have implemented a Purple Star Schools designation program, a school seeking the designation must demonstrate that it has met the Purple Star School requirements set by its state. MCEC would recommend that states consider, at a minimum, adopting the four requirements for a military-friendly school originating from MCEC’s 2000 Secondary Education Transition Study (commissioned by the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center). These require that the school: Designate a staff point of contact for military students and families. The POC serves as the primary link between the military family and the school. The individual can be a counselor, administrator, teacher, or other staff member. Establish and maintain a dedicated page on its website featuring information and resources for military families. See an example here. Maintain a student-led transition program to include a student transition team coordinator. Provide professional development for additional staff on special considerations for military students and families. In addition to these four criteria, states might wish to consider requiring schools to meet one additional criteria chosen from a menu of options. Such options might include: A commitment by the school to hold a school-wide military recognition event Passage by the school division’s school board of a resolution publicizing support for military students and families Partnering with School Liaison Officers (military personnel who work with local school divisions in support of military-connected children) to provide opportunities for active duty parents to volunteer in the school. School District Programs The Purple Star School initiative is intentionally flexible: individual school districts are encouraged to start a program when their state department of education is unable to do so. MCEC recommends that schools districts establishing a program follow the same requirements for certification as a state program. MCEC can provide comprehensive guidance and consultation for states and school districts at all points in the process. Parents can learn more about Purple Star Programs here.
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