BPS backs bills to add JROTC success to school grades
Feb. 20, 2020
Brevard Public Schools is advocating for bills in the Legislature that would award points under Florida’s school-grading system for preparing students for military careers.
As a pair of locally sponsored bills advance toward House and Senate votes, BPS asks Floridians who support the idea to contact their legislators. Residents can quickly find their state representative and senator and their contact information HERE.
Florida’s grading system already awards points to secondary schools for “career and college acceleration” based on how many students earn industry certifications or pass exams that can earn college credit, such as those tied to Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge courses. However, school and district grades do not reflect student success at one of America’s oldest and most proven career- and college-readiness programs: the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC), which includes preparation for the U.S. military’s standardized entrance exam.
Senate Bill 662 and House Bill 445 would add student success on that military exam, known as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, to the data behind Florida schools’ scores for career and college preparation. The Senate bill would require that ASVAB scores be counted only for students who have participated for two years in JROTC; enlisted in the military; been accepted into a U.S. military academy; or received documented military career counseling.
The ASVAB is a three-hour standardized exam that tests:
· Math reasoning and knowledge
· Reading comprehension and vocabulary
· Mechanical comprehension
· Electronics information
· Automotive and shop information
· Assembling objects
· Verbal expression
Sponsored by State Sen. Tom Wright (R-New Smyrna Beach), and Rep. Tyler Sirois (R-Merritt Island), the legislation was unanimously supported by the five-member Brevard County School Board among its 2020 legislative priorities. In Brevard, 14 public high schools have JROTC units that include 2,147 students.
“It’s a special kid who goes through it,” said Lt. Commander Sheldon Chatman, Navy JROTC teacher at Titusville High School. “These kids are choosing to be different from 90 percent of the students on campus.”
At Titusville High, Navy JROTC cadets explained their military and leadership-development activities during a Feb. 14 inspection by representatives from the U.S. Navy, Army and Marines. In addition to taking JROTC as an elective class, the 135 cadets participate in physical training on Tuesdays and wear uniforms Thursdays. Students perform community service, attend orienteering camps, and participate on drill teams and competitive air-rifle teams. They track their hours and activities in a computerized Citizen Development Management Information Subsystem.
About two-thirds of Titusville’s JROTC-program graduates go on to enlist in the military or enter officer-development programs that include college ROTC scholarships or service academies, Chatman said.
Navy JROTC cadets at Titusville High School underwent an inspection Feb. 14 by representatives from the U.S. Navy, Marines and Army. About two-thirds of the THS unit’s graduates enlist in the military or go on to officer-development programs in college.
Photo by Matt Reed, Brevard Public Schools