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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:

Purple Star Schools Map

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 Identifier 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

The Virginia Purple Star Designation Program for Schools


The Virginia Purple Star Designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military. Schools that earn the award will receive a special Purple Star recognition to display onsite.

A school will be honored with the Purple Star Award if it completes all the required activities, plus one optional activity. The Virginia Department of Education’s Military Student Support Process Action Team, (MSSPAT) will review all school applications for the award. Final approval on awards will be made by members of the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on the Educational Opportunity for Military Children.


Purple Star Honorees

The Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact for Military Children recognize Virginia Purple Star Schools for their excellence in supporting military-connected children and their families.

Poquoson Public Schools and Chesapeake Public Schools have the distinct honor of having all schools in their division designated as Purple Star Schools.

How to Qualify

The school must have a staff point of contact (POC) for military students and families. The POC serves as the primary link between the military family and the school. This contact could be a counselor, administrator, teacher, or another staff member;

  • The school-based POC must have completed VDOE Modules: Supporting Our Military–Connected Children in School Settings: Moving them from Risk to Resilience, Module 1 and Module 2. Additionally, the POC must complete the follow-up questions found in the application and supply a copy of the module completion certificate. School Based POC's who have completed the modules may submit a completion certificate for the Module: Building Awareness of the Social Emotional Impacts of Military Family Transitions.

  • The POC works with school administration and/or military program partners to conduct a school-wide professional development (PD) that informs staff of the unique needs of military-connected students and on supports available to support these students. Evidence of this training would include copies of sign-in sheets and training materials presented, or a letter from the school administration stating that 70 percent of the school staff attended the PD. 


The school keeps or links to a division-wide page dedicated to military student and family support. This web page must include the following information.

  1. Military Families: Planning your Arrival to (Insert School Division):
    Information on Enrollment and the registration process.

  2. Military Families: Preparing your Move from (Insert School Division):
    Information on educational records requests and transfers - School and/or linked division webpages for supporting military families will be reviewed to determine if the page contains clear and concise information on the division’s remote registration process for incoming military-connected students. Remote registration is permissible under Section B-3 of the Code of Virginia § 22.1-3. Persons to whom public schools shall be free. Also helpful is information on the school division's open enrollment policies for military families residing in privatized military housing as required under the Code of Virginia § 22.1-7.2 Enrollment for Students residing on military installation or in military housing.

  3. Academic Planning for Military Families:
    Information on Advanced Academic Programs and application deadlines (Specialty Centers), Graduation Requirements, Diploma Options, and Home Instruction.

  4. Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children:
    Information on the Compact Rules and their application.

  5. Special Needs Navigation and Parental Rights:
    This includes information on Special Education services and parental rights to include parental consent.

  6. Other matters of Importance:


This may include, Impact Aid, Student-Parent Survey, PTA and PTSA, Extra Curricular Activities and local Community Supports etc.

  • The school division has assigned a central office staff member to be the contact for the school-based liaison and military families; and

  • The school maintains a student led transition program to include a student transition team coordinator. This program should provide peer support for newly enrolled and withdrawing students to include those that are military connected. Evidence could include calendar of events, a narrative of activities conducted, flyers, photos or student welcoming or training materials. 

  • Division Wide Activities - Purple Star Schools must provide evidence that the division completed at least one of the following:

    • Division-wide professional development of at least 70 percent of school division personnel regarding special considerations for military students and families. Evidence of this training should include the following documentation: Letter from division superintendent stating that 70 percent of all division staff took and/or attended the training or the training agenda, presentation materials, and names of all participants.

    • The school board passes a resolution publicizing the school division’s support for military students and families. Applicant must include a copy of the resolution.

    • The school division hosts a military recognition event designed to demonstrate a military-friendly culture across the school division community. In addition to the event summary please provide copies of marketing materials, news articles or photographs.

  • Submitted the application by the deadline.



The application window is now open and will remain open until close of business on September 22, 2023. If you have properly prepared your responses and are ready to upload them, please proceed to Step 2 below. For all others, please continue reading.

All applicants are asked to read the information below carefully. Before selecting the application link, applicants must prepare written summaries and artifacts for evidence. These must be uploaded at the time the application is being summited. File types supported for upload include PDF, DOC, DOCX, PNG, JPG, JPEG and GIF. Please feel free to contact Dan Dunham, VDOE Military Student and Families Specialist, at if you have any questions or concerns.


Step 1: Prepare Application Responses

The following information and questions will be asked of all Purple Star applicants. Please make sure to read each question carefully.  It is estimated that the online application (link found at the bottom of this section) will take no more than three minutes to complete. Only one document up to 16MB is permitted to be uploaded per question. Please pre-assemble all written narratives and artifacts of evidence into one document before attempting to upload your responses. Questions concerning division-level support or division-wide activities do not apply to private schools and/or pre-schools without this support. 


Question 1: Applicants will be asked if they are applying for a school that previously earned the Purple Star Designation during school year 2020-2021. Be prepared to answer yes or no.


Question 2: Applicants will need to supply the following contact information.

  • Applicants First and Last Name

  • Email Address of Applicant

  • Name of School

  • Principal's Full Name

  • Email Address

  • School Phone Number


Question 3: Applicants will be asked to provide the school or division URL that is dedicated to providing military families with information they need to navigate important information about the school and division. These pages are reviewed, and information must be up to date and accurate at time of review. 


The next few questions will be asked and a separate file with written narratives and supporting evidence must be prepared and uploaded for each question. Again, note that only one file per question is permitted so please pre-assemble the written narrative and all supporting artifacts into one file.  Applicants are highly encouraged to review these questions and prepare these files before selecting the link to submit a Purple Star application. As stated earlier only the following file types are accepted. PDF, DOC, DOCX, PNG, JPG, JPEG and GIF.


Question 4: Additional Contact information will also be required.

  • Name of School Based POC

  • Email for School Based POC

  • Name of Division Level Staff Support for School Based POC (Private School and Pre-School Programs without divisional level support need not worry about this information)

  • Email of Division Level Staff Support for School Based POC

  • Name of Division Superintendent and/or Head of School

  • Email of Division Superintendent and/or Head of School


Question 5: Applicants will be asked to upload a copy of the School Based POC's completion certificate for the following VDOE Modules:


Question 6: Applicants will be asked to upload a written summary of active peer transition team efforts and include evidence to support the team’s engagement with peers and the school community. This response should be robust as peer transition support is perhaps the greatest aspect of support that makes a significant impact on the incoming student. Reviewers realize that the degree of peer support will likely vary depending on the developmental level and age of the students involved. However, please showcase the best you can how your students support one another.


Question 7: Applicants will be asked to upload a written narrative and supporting evidence of schoolwide professional development (PD) of 70 percent of school staff on supporting military-connected students and their families. This must include the date the training occurred. The PD must have been delivered between January 1, 2020, and September 22, 2023. Applicants whose schools attended a similar division-wide PD may use that training to satisfy this requirement so long as a letter from either the school administration and or division superintendent is provided stating that 70 percent of the school attended the training.


Question 8: Applicants will be asked to upload a written narrative and supporting evidence that demonstrates how your school addresses the additional transitional needs of military-connected students who receive special education services.


Question 9: Applicants will be asked to upload a written narrative and supporting evidence of at least one of the following division-wide efforts to build community support for military students and their families. Again, this question does not need to be submitted by private schools and or pre-schools without this support.

  • Division-wide professional development regarding special considerations for military students and families. Evidence of this training should include a letter from a division level administrator that includes the date of training between January 1, 2020, and September 22, 2023, and a list of schools participating where at least 70 percent of school level personnel attended;

  • The school board passes a resolution publicizing the school’s support for military students and families. Please submit a copy of this resolution; and/or

  • A military recognition event hosted by the school division designed to demonstrate a military-friendly culture across the school division community. In addition to the event summary, please provide copies of marketing materials, news articles, or photographs.


Question 10: Applicants will have the opportunity to provide any additional information. Reviewers appreciate any and all pieces of information that assist them in understanding what makes your school's support for military-connected students unique. 


Step 2: Submit Application Form

After you have prepared written summaries to include artifacts of evidence as described above, submit your responses through the Online Application Portal.

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