Identification of Military Connected Students

Ohio is committed to serving military members and their families. Ohio’s schools and districts can welcome and support military-connected students and their families by properly identifying them as members of the school community. The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires districts to identify and report these students who have a parent or legal guardian who is a member of the Armed Forces or National Guard each year.

Reporting the Military Student Indicator

Ohio schools and districts report military-connected students in the Education Management Information System (EMIS) each year. It is reported under the Military Student Identifier Element (MSI).  Valid options for this reporting field are:
  1. Active Duty. Student is a dependent of a member of the Active-Duty Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard).
  2. National Guard. Student is a dependent of a member of the National Guard (Army National Guard or Air National Guard).
  3. Reserves.

Best Practices for Identifying Students

To collect accurate information, schools and districts may include a question on the district’s enrollment form. Consider the following best practices:
  • When asking about student’s military connection, include a required, clear and straightforward question that mirrors the information that will be reported. For example:
    • Military connection: Student’s parent or legal guardian is (required, select one):
      • Active Duty. (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard or Space Force)
      • National Guard (Army National Guard or Air National Guard)
      • Reserves
      • N/A
  • If not collected as part of enrollment, information can be collected as part of a parent survey.
  • Schools and districts should consider including this question in forms required to be updated yearly at the start of the school year and/or upon enrollment.
Some schools and districts may wish to collect additional information about military connections than what should be reported in the Military Student Indicator. For example, schools and districts may ask if a parent or guardian is a veteran. Veterans deserve our support and have connections to the military that may serve as a bridge to assist military families that are currently serving. Some schools choose to expand this to include immediate family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. This information should not be reported as part of the Military Student Indicator. 

Supporting Identified Students

Identifying and supporting military-connected students allows them to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged in alignment with Ohio’s Whole Child Framework.

Military-connected students face challenges that are unique to other students and families. Active-Duty service members typically change duty stations every two to three years. Reserve and National Guard members can be activated for time frames stretching from months to years at a time. Active, Guard, and Reserve members can be deployed out of the state or country for months at a time. The average military family moves six to nine times over the course of their time in school. This video outlines the importance of the Military Student Identifier and its impact on schools.

Through identification, schools can better serve and support the needs of military-connected students. Identification supports military-connected students in many ways:

  • Allows for implementation of the Interstate Compact for Military Children. Ohio is part of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. The compact eases educational barriers for military families that transition due to military service.
  • Helps determine if schools and communities are eligible for financial aid. Communities and schools that are directly impacted by military installations receive Federal Impact Aid to offset these costs and lost tax revenue. That funding is determined by the number of students a district identifies.
  • Facilitates continuous improvement in serving military-connected students. Information on the identification of military-connected students can be used by schools to improve and personalize academic and whole child responses for the unique military student population. Schools can create welcoming practices and transition plans for military-connected students. The Military Child Education Coalition offers an overview on the importance transition planning.
  • Meets an eligibility requirement for schools to earn the Purple Star Award. Identifying military-connected youth is one of the requirements to earn the Purple Star Award. The award is open to schools that identify and develop programming for military-connected students. Please visit the Purple Star Designation site for more information.
For more information on the Military Student Identifier, access the Military Child Education Coalition’s Frequently Asked Questions or contact Jason Scragg, Military and English Learner Educational Consultant at (614) 466-4109 or

Last Modified: 1/27/2023 3:28:28 PM