The U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) is one of the largest character development and citizenship programs for youth in the world. The National Defense Act of 1916 established organized JROTC programs at public and private educational institutions. In 1964, Congress expanded the program to all military services and changed from active duty to shared support from the services and schools. As congressionally mandated by Title 10 United States Code, Section 2031, each military service must have a JROTC program to “instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.” JROTC’s mission, “To Motivate Young People to be Better Citizens”, is the guide post for the program’s success.
The U.S. Army’s JROTC program currently operates in more than 1,700 public and private high schools, military institutions, and correctional centers throughout the United States and overseas. Approximately 40% of JROTC programs are in inner city schools, serving a student population of 50% minorities. As JROTC students (Cadets) progress through the program, they experience opportunities to lead other Cadets. A major component of the JROTC leadership and citizenship program is female Cadets. Female Cadets make up 40% of the Cadet population. The JROTC faculty is led by nearly 4,000 instructors who are retired from active duty, reserve duty, or National Guard Army service. Instructors are trained and qualified in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act 2007 to teach and mentor approximately 314,000 JROTC Cadets annually.
The JROTC Curriculum
Since 2005, the U.S. Army JROTC program has been accredited as a Special Purpose Program by the national accrediting agency known as AdvancED (www.advanc-ed.org). JROTC curriculum provides equitable and challenging academic content and authentic learning experiences for all Cadets. All lessons are designed using a four part model to motivate the Cadet, allow the Cadet to learn new information, practice competency, and apply the competency to a real-life situation. Moreover, the four part model requires Cadets to collaborate, reflect, develop critical thinking skills, and integrate content with other disciplines. JROTC curriculum includes lessons in leadership, health and wellness, physical fitness, first-aid, geography, American history and government, communications, and emotional intelligence.
The curriculum is rigorous and relevant to 21st century education. In fact, many high schools grant core credits for some of the subjects taught in JROTC. Our curriculum meets the standards of Common Core State Standards and in many states it aligns with Career and Technical Education clusters. Cadets learn and apply the curriculum using technology in the classroom.
Instructors use technology in the classroom as an instructional strategy to engage Cadets in their learning. Examples of instructors using technology can be observed at the schools when they use our learning management tool, the Curriculum Manager (CM) which houses the instructors’ lesson plans, classroom management strategies and techniques, references, and a myriad of other teacher help aids. Our partnership with Turning Technologies enables Cadets to engage in JROTC lessons using an interactive student response system (clickers) and a mobile interactive whiteboard (MOBI). Cadets use these technologies to complete summative and formative assessments, present presentations, and play educational games to promote learning. Outside the classroom, Cadets can extend their use of technology. When Instructors register their Cadets with the Conover Company using Conover Online, Cadets are able to assess their emotional intelligence and complete skill enhancement lessons using any mobile device. Cadets must participate in co-curricular activities to reinforce what is learned in the classroom.
JROTC Co-Curricular Activities
Cadets participate in a myriad of co-curricular activities to demonstrate their attainment of lesson outcomes. Some of these activities include precision and exhibition military drill competitions, air rifle competitions (optional), Raider Challenge competitions, JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl (JLAB), Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Camp, and a physical fitness competition known as JROTC Cadet Leadership Challenge (JCLC). Cadets who complete 4 years of JROTC co-curricular activities and its challenging curriculum will be more college and/or career ready.
With assistance from an organization working independently of JROTC, the College Options Foundation can help Cadets locate colleges offering credits for completing JROTC. Additionally, Army ROTC (not JROTC) offers college scholarships to Cadets who qualify for their scholarship program. For more information, visit www.collegeoptionsfoundation.net or www.goarmy.com/rotc/high-school-students.html.
Arguably, JROTC is one of the most successful and significantly impactful youth-oriented programs in American history. As educators and others measure success, we have identified five Quality Indicators used to measure the effectiveness of the program in high schools. These five Quality Indicators are attendance, graduation, indiscipline, drop-out rate, and GPA. JROTC exceeds schools’ averages in each of these categories:
As an accredited Special Purpose Program, JROTC must adhere to AdvancED’s Standards of Quality. In 2015, JROTC implemented the JROTC Program Accreditation (JPA) evaluation program. The JPA provides a holistic review of Cadets’ and instructors’ performance with emphasis on documenting continuous improvement.