AAP: Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Questions About AAP in FCPS

What Advanced Academic services are available in FCPS?

FCPS is committed to providing challenging learning experiences for all learners that build on individual strengths and optimize academic potential.  In order to meet the needs and develop the potential of advanced learners, FCPS provides a continuum of advanced academic services.

How does the school determine the appropriate level of advanced academic service for each student?

Each FCPS elementary school is staffed with an Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART). The AART collaborates with the school staff to determine the appropriate level of advanced academic services.  Parents may refer their child for advanced academic services by contacting the AART at the local school.  Ongoing observation and assessment ensures that student needs are being met.

 

My rising kindergartener is very advanced.  What are my options for placement and services?

The Code of Virginia and Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) regulation state that a child's fifth birthday must fall on or before September 30 of the school year for the child to be eligible to attend a Virginia public school.  FCPS does not have waivers or considerations based on student skills.   
                                                                
If a parent elects to place a child in a private kindergarten program because the child did not meet the public school age requirements, the child will be considered eligible for kindergarten the following year.  However, the principal has the option of promoting the child to first grade upon review of the child's academic records and staff assessment of performance.  If a child attends private school kindergarten and first grade the child would be eligible for second grade but the principal maintains the option to place the child in first grade if concerns arise.   

Students in kindergarten may be considered for level II services beginning in kindergarten in areas of academic strength.  Services are delivered by the general education teacher in consultation with the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher with regards to appropriate curriculum and resources to add depth and complexity to the Program of Studies. 

 

Who can provide additional information about advanced academic services?

For additional information about the screening process or advanced academic opportunities at your child’s school, contact the principal or Advanced Academic Resource Teacher at your local elementary school or the Director of Student Services at the middle school. For information on countywide services for advanced learners, visit the Advanced Academic Opportunities web site or call the Advanced Academic Programs office at 571-423-4740.

 

Are there summer enrichment programs for advanced academic students?

Although there are no summer enrichment programs specifically designed for advanced academic students, FCPS summer school offers many programs designed to enrich and extend student learning. The summer school catalog, with descriptions and locations of the classes, is mailed to each home in the spring.

The National Association for Gifted Children, http://www.nagc.org/ publishes a list of summer enrichment programs.

 

What is the difference between full-time AAP (level IV) center program and the general education program?

The full-time AAP (level IV) center program for students in grades 3 through 8 offers identified students a highly challenging instructional program that follows the FCPS Program of Studies. Differentiation in the depth, breadth, and pace of instruction, along with a strong emphasis on higher level thinking skills is designed to meet the needs of advanced learners with a strong emphasis on higher level thinking skills. Adaptations are made to the curriculum in order to provide an appropriate level of challenge for advanced learners with a strong emphasis on critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.

The general education elementary school program offers instruction in the core curriculum as defined by FCPS Program of Studies (POS) and Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL).

 

Screening, Testing, and Identification

How do parent/guardians refer FCPS students for full-time AAP (level IV) center screening?

Parent/guardians of students currently enrolled in FCPS may initiate full-time AAP (level IV) center screening by submitting the AAP (Level IV) Referral Form to the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher at the local school according to the published timeline.  This is the only action that is required to initiate the screening process. The referral form is located in the Parent Information Packet for AAP Screening, Testing and Identification which is available at all FCPS elementary and middle schools and on the Advanced Academic Programs website.

 

I missed the deadline to turn in a referral for my student to be screened for Level IV services.  What are my options?

Due to the size of our district and the large number of screening files created and reviewed each year, the deadline for submitting a referral for level IV screening is published very early in the year in multiple formats and is held absolutely firm.  If you miss the deadline, you may still have your student screened for school-based services (level II and level III) by submitting the referral form for school-based services.  Please complete the form and submit it to the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher at your local school.  Screening for school-based services is done by a local screening committee and each elementary school can provide information on the school-based services available for your child.  If you would like your child screened for Level IV, your next opportunity would be the following year according to the published timeline.

 

What tests are used to screen students for Advanced Academic services?

The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) is administered to all first graders. The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), Custom Form for Grade 2, will be administered to all FCPS second graders this fall.  These assessments are used as part of the screening process for advanced academic services. Students in grades 3-8 who are missing an ability test score are also tested. Parents of students in grades 3-8 may request a one-time retest option for either the CogAT or the Naglieri by informing the school at the start of the school year. Parent/guardians of students not enrolled in and attending FCPS are responsible for obtaining test results. Group ability test results will only be accepted from George Mason University (GMU), FCPS, and/or other school districts. Individual intelligence assessments administered by private psychologists will be accepted if conducted by a state licensed psychologist and the report is accompanied by a copy of the license. Please note that results must be reported as standard age scores.

Testing may also be obtained from George Mason University Psychological Clinic (telephone 703-993-4200, website http://cap.gmu.edu).

 

What ability tests are accepted for screening for Advanced Academic Programs?

List of Approved Ability Test

  Group Tests

  • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)
  • Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test
  • Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT)


 Individually Administered Tests

  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC IV)
  • Cognitive Assessment System (CAS)
  • Kaufman Assessment Battery
  • Differential Ability Scale (DAS)
  • In-View Cognitive Abilities Assessment

What is the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)?

The Cognitive Abilities Test is a group ability test that measures general intellectual ability.  The test consists of three batteries: Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal. Each battery is designed to assess a group of general abstract reasoning skills that research suggests are related to learning and problem solving.  The Verbal and Quantitative Batteries require the student to use verbal and mathematical concepts that are acquired from experiences both in and out of school. The Nonverbal Battery uses geometric shapes and figures that have little direct relationship to formal school instruction.

 

What is the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test?

The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT) is a group ability test that does not require English language skills and knowledge that is taught in school. This test allows students to demonstrate their ability to think and reason by figuring out problems that are presented through a complex series of geometric shapes and designs. The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test allows students to demonstrate advanced levels of reasoning without word knowledge, mathematics, or reading skills. The content of the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test is completely nonverbal, the instructions are brief, and the questions may be solved using only the information that is presented in each diagram.

 

What are the similarities and differences between the two tests?

Both tests use a multiple choice format. The CogAT has three sections which yield three sub scores, one for each section. The NNAT has one section and one score. The highest possible score for each sub test of the CogAT and the NNAT is 160. The average score for each test is 100. The tests are given according to a child's grade level and the score is based on his/her age. In Fairfax County Public Schools, the tests are administered by classroom teachers, usually in multiple settings. Occasionally, other staff, such as the counselor, administrator, or testing coordinator may administer the tests.

 

How can I prepare my child to take the tests? Can I see sample questions or practice sheets?

Sample questions are practiced by students as part of the test preparation. Sample tests are not commercially available. The best test preparation is a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast.

 

What do the different terms that are found on the score report mean?

Percentile Rank
This shows the relative standing of a student in comparison with other students of the same age or grade. For example, 95% means that a student scored higher than 95% of other students in the same age or grade taking the test during the same time of year (fall, winter, or spring).

Stanine

This indicates the student's relative standing in the national norm group and ranges from 1 - 9 with a mean of 5.

Standard Age Scores (SAS) on the CogAT and Nonverbal Ability Index (NAI) on the NNAT
These scores may be interpreted in terms of how many standard deviation units the score is above or below the mean for the age group. An SAS or NAI of 100 is zero deviations from the mean. The three digit SAS score for the CogAT and the three digit NAI score on the NNAT are used to select a second grade pool of candidates for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program. They are also reviewed as one of the criteria that must be submitted in a screening file.

 

Can students be re-tested?

Parent/guardians of students enrolled in and attending FCPS may request one re-test in grades three through seven. This test may be administered during the fall testing cycle. Please let the testing coordinator and Advanced Academic Resource Teacher at your local school know at the start of the school year if you wish to have your student re-tested. Additional testing may be obtained from George Mason University Psychological Clinic (703-993-4200, http://cap.gmu.edu/). Students must wait at least 6 months before retaking any group ability test or individual intelligence test. Students may take a different approved individual intelligence test administered by a state licensed clinical psychologist within the 6 month period.

 

My child is in private school.  Is it possible to have him tested in a Fairfax County School so that I do not have to pay for the cost of the test?

The group ability tests that are required for screening and selection for the Level IV advanced academic program are administered during the school day by classroom teachers in the local  FCPS schools. 
As a large school district, we receive many requests to administer abilities tests to private school students.  In order to provide a testing clinic for students in private school, it would be necessary to create a registration process,  hire proctors, order additional tests, schedule a time outside of the school day for testing, and open a location to hold the clinic.  In addition, funds would be needed to score the additional tests and provide individual score reports.  With the current budget constraints, this cost is not feasible and unfortunately, we do not have the staff or resources to carry out such a task.

FCPS initiated a partnership with the GMU Cognitive Assessment Program in order to make it possible for students in private school to be tested for the screening and selection process for Level IV placement without registering and enrolling in the school district.  Information on this testing service is available at http://cap.gmu.edu/index.html

 

How is the second grade pool of candidates for the full-time AAP ( level IV) center program determined?

The purpose of the second grade screening pool is to identify a starting point for creating files to screen for possible Level IV service. The second grade pool is determined through a review of the NNAT test results from grade 1 and FCPS CogAT, Custom Form for Grade 2 test results from grade 2. Each year the benchmark score varies slightly and is determined based on how students across the district performed as a group. Second grade students not in the screening pool and third through seventh graders (as there is no screening pool outside of second grade) may be screened by referral. Administrators, teachers, parent/guardians, or students may submit a referral/self-referral.  

 

Why is the benchmark for the 2nd grade pool different each year?

The make-up of the 2nd grade pool is determined by student performance on the two tests. It is difficult to predict how the students will do from year to year and, therefore, the benchmark or cutoff scores vary accordingly.  This score is usually in the 130's.

 

Why does the score used for the benchmark vary?

Each year FCPS tries to capture a similar number of students as a starting point for screening.  In some years, capturing that number is best accomplished through use of the subtest scores;  other years the composite score better captures that number.  It is important to remember that the pool is just a starting point and does not guarantee eligibility since, according to Virginia regulation, no single piece of information can find a student eligible or ineligible.  FCPS uses a holistic case study approach as prescribed in the National Association for Gifted Children’s best practices.  Students for whom referrals are done have files created in the same manner as pool candidates and are screened at the same time as pool candidates. 

 

My child is in the 2nd grade pool – Do I need to submit optional materials?

Parents of 2nd grade pool candidates as well as parents of students referred for Level IV services are encouraged to submit optional materials (parent/guardian questionnaire, work samples, awards/commendations) according to the guidelines in the Parent Information Packet.   FCPS uses a holistic case study approach as recommended by the National Association for Gifted Children’s best practices for screening and identification.  Having parent input for consideration while reading the file, for both pool and referral candidates, is very helpful to the Central Selection Screening Committee. 

 

If my child is not in the 2nd grade pool, can he/she still be considered for center placement?

The second grade pool is a starting point. It is a means to identify a group of second grade candidates for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program. It typically comprises one half of the files that are screened during the screening cycle because any parent/guardian, teacher, administrator, or student may refer/self-refer a student and many do. During Central Selection Committee meetings in March/April, both pool and referral files are mixed and screened.  Students who are referred receive the same consideration as students who are in the pool. 

The AAP (Level IV) Referral Form is located in the Parent Information Packet for Screening, Testing, and Identification which is available at your local school or on line at the Advanced Academic Programs website.  It is also available as a fillable form at http://www.fcps.edu/is/aap/forms.shtml.

 

How important are the test scores in determining eligibility for full-time AAP (level IV) center placement?

Test scores are just one piece of data considered when a file is reviewed for full-time AAP (level IV) center placement. The Level IV Center Central Selection Committee, made up of FCPS teachers, specialists, and administrators, considers multiple criteria, including: the Gifted Behaviors Rating Scale (GBRS), ability and achievement test scores, work samples, student progress reports, and other optional information such as the Parent/Guardian Questionnaire (available at http://www.fcps.edu/is/aap/forms.shtml).

 

How do teachers contribute to the screening process?

Teachers may refer students for advanced academic services by completing and submitting the AAP (Level IV) Referral Form. In addition, classroom teachers are members of the Local Screening Committee. The Local Screening Committee reviews student work samples, anecdotal evidence of students' academic potential, and teacher input in order to complete the Gifted Behaviors Rating Scale with Commentary (GBRSw/C).

To complete the GBRSw/C, students are rated in four areas: exceptional ability to learn, exceptional application of knowledge, exceptional creative/productive thinking, and exceptional motivation to succeed. In the commentary portion of the GBRSw/C, teachers and educational specialists provide relevant anecdotal information that supports the rating scale.

Please note that because input from FCPS staff is included in the GBRS w/Commentary, recommendations from individual FCPS teachers will not be accepted.

 

What is the Gifted Behavior Rating Scale and how is it completed?

The Gifted Behavior Rating Scale with Commentary (GBRSw/C) was created by Fairfax County Public Schools in collaboration with Dr. Beverly Shaklee, professor at George Mason University (Shaklee, 1992).  The scale has four categories:  exceptional ability to learn, exceptional application of knowledge, exceptional creative/productive thinking, and exceptional motivation to succeed.  Each category on the GBRS includes a list of indicators that provide examples of what this behavior might look like in a school setting.  For example, under exceptional ability to learn, one of the indicators states “is acquiring language at a rapid pace”.  This would apply to a student whose primary language is not English and who is demonstrating an exceptional ability to learn a new language.  In another category, exceptional application of knowledge, one of the indicators states, “communicates learned concepts through role playing and/or detailed artwork”.  This allows teachers to note gifted behaviors that may be demonstrated through alternative modes of expression such as drama and the visual arts. 
The GBRSw/C is completed by assigning a single whole number from 1-4 to each category. A rating of 4 designates a student who consistently demonstrates the behaviors in a particular category.  A rating of 3 describes a child who frequently demonstrates a behavior. A rating of 2 describes a child who occasionally demonstrates the behaviors that are listed in a particular category.  A rating of 1 describes a child who rarely demonstrates the behaviors that are listed in a particular category. The total score is the sum of the numbers assigned to each of the four categories and the highest score is a 16. 

The GBRSw/C is completed by a committee made up of administrators, classroom teachers, the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART), and other support teachers within the school. All teachers receive training from the AART on how to collect evidence and how to complete the GBRSw/C.  The school district has created videos to show teachers how these behaviors look in classrooms with students from diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds.  The videos are used as part of the training that all teachers receive on how to use the GBRSw/C.  During the committee meeting, each child is discussed and members share work samples and examples to support their rating, and then the committee come to consensus for each category.  The teachers’ observations are merged into a single GBRSw/C form and only one completed GBRSw/C may be submitted. 

In addition to the rating scale, there is a place to note if a student is working above grade level in reading or mathematics.  A student who is working above grade level in reading consistently accesses reading materials suited for one or more grade levels above the current grade level. A student who is working above grade level in mathematics works consistently above grade level as determined by the Elementary Mathematics Instruction Sequence (EMIS).

Finally, in the Comments/Summary section, teachers list examples, observations, and/or descriptions of observed behaviors.  These may include instructional modifications, inclusion in special programs, or additional information profiling the student’s strengths.  The comments support categorical ratings with specific examples illustrating the behaviors.

It is important to note that the GBRSw/C is a record of observable classroom behaviors and it is not a recommendation or favorable support for or against full-time AAP placement or for other advanced academic services.  All screening file documents including the GBRSw/C are available to parents or guardians. 

 

How do parents contribute to the screening process?

Parents may refer students for advanced academic services by completing and submitting the AAP (Level IV) Referral Form. In addition, parents can submit optional information to the school. This optional information could include a Parent/Guardian Questionnaire, a maximum of four single-sided 8 1/2" x 11" pages of student work (one page of work produced at school will be provided from the school to make a maximum of five work sample pages), and a maximum of five singe-sided 8 1/2" x 11" pages of certificates, awards, honors accomplishments, letters of commendations, report of previous participation in GT programs and academic extracurricular activities.

 

When is notification of eligibility sent to parent/guardians?

For spring screening, notification of eligibility is mailed in May. For fall screening, eligibility notification is mailed in January.

 

How are students assigned to Level IV Centers?

Full-time AAP (level IV) center assignments are based on the student's address. The eligibility letter indicates the appropriate Level IV center.  Transportation information is mailed in August.

 

What are procedures for appealing an ineligibility decision?

Parent/guardians of students not selected for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program may submit an appeal. Only parents or guardians may submit an appeal.  Appeal information is contained in the ineligibility letter.  Appeals must contain new information not contained in the original screening file.  Parents/guardians of an FCPS student may obtain a copy of the screening file from the local school Advanced Academic Resource Teacher. 

The new information along with the Full-time AAP (Level IV) Appeal Form, available on the forms page, is submitted to the Advanced Academic Programs Coordinator according to the timeline

 

How is the appeal decision made?

The new data is added to the original screening file for review by the appeals committee. The Advanced Academic Programs office notifies the parents/guardians and the local school of the appeals committee decision by the end of July. The decision of the appeals committee is final.

 

Can ineligible students be screened again?

Yes, students found ineligible for the full-time AAP (level IV) center may be considered for school-based advanced academic services at the local school.  Parents/guardians of ineligible students may also refer their child for level IV center screening the following year according to the published timeline.

 

How does the Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission (MIC3) help ensure I can enroll my student into the gifted program without delay?

If you are a military family moving to the area, please follow the directions for identification of geographically new students on our website. In FCPS, we have three levels of service for students who are identified as needing advanced academic services. Your child's records and available test scores will be reviewed to find the best match between services from your prior district and what FCPS offers. For more information about navigating gifted education programs as a military transfer student in Virginia, please see this document from the Virginia Department of Education.

 

Elementary School

Critical and Creative Thinking Strategies (Level I)

 

What services are available for all students in grades K-6?

Critical and Creative Thinking Lessons are provided for all grades K-6 students that represent a broad range of thinking strategies which extend and enrich the FCPS Program of Studies (POS) and the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL).  The lessons support differentiation within the classroom.  Grade-level specific lessons are available in math, language arts, social studies, and science.

 

Who teaches the Critical and Creative Thinking Strategy lessons and when are they taught?

Critical and Creative Thinking Strategy lessons are available to all FCPS teachers through 24/7 Blackboard.  Advanced Academic Resource Teachers model the lessons for other teachers in the school. Teachers then integrate and apply appropriate thinking strategies into grade-level lessons throughout the year according to the FCPS Program of Studies.

 

Differentiated Services (Level II)

 

How are students identified for Differentiated Lessons in Areas of Academic Strength, Grades K-6 (level II)?

Students who exhibit a need for additional challenge in an area of academic strength are considered for Differentiated Services within the classroom. These services are specifically planned for the identified child to provide more challenging content, assignments, resources and/or instructional grouping within the classroom.  The Advanced Academic Resource Teacher collaborates with the classroom teachers to provide additional challenges and resources within the general education program.

 

Do Differentiated Services change or do they always stay the same?

Differentiated Services are determined based on student needs and therefore may change over time.  For example, a group of students might require additional challenge in math for a specific unit.  These students might work together in a small group on math extension activities instead of basic skills.  Or a student may have extensive knowledge on a particular science or social studies topic.  In this case, the student might work on an independent research project on that topic.  Services are tailored to the individual student and the content area(s) and/or the unit of study.

 

What is the Young Scholars Model?

Young Scholars (YS) is a K-8 model that is designed to increase the proportion of historically underrepresented students in advanced academic programs. School administrators, teachers, and Advanced Academic Resource Teachers work together to find and nurture advanced academic potential in young learners. Through flexible grouping, summer school, and after-school programs, students are provided an educational setting that raises their personal expectations and prepares them for more challenging and rigorous courses as they advance in grade level.  Young Scholars is a county-wide initiative.

 

Part-Time AAP Services (Level III)

 

How are students identified for the grades 3-6 part-time AAP services (levels II and III)?

All students are considered for school-based services on an ongoing basis. Parent/guardians of students currently enrolled in FCPS may also initiate screening for the school-based program by submitting the AAP School-Based Services (Levels II-III) Referral Form to the school's Advanced Academic Resource Teacher. The Local School Advanced Academic Screening Committee considers ability and achievement test scores, the Gifted Behavior Rating Scale (GBRS), progress reports, and parent/guardian input to determine the need for advanced academic services.

 

Who serves on the Local School Advanced Academic Programs Screening Committee?

The Local School Advanced Academic Programs Screening Committee consists of at least three people to include the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher, principal/administrator designee, and classroom teacher(s).  A school counselor, reading teacher, media specialist, ESOL teacher, and/or other specialists may also serve on the committee.

 

What are the school-based services for students in grades 3-6?

Advanced Academic school-based services are delivered to eligible students in grades 3-6 through a collaborative model that supports a continuum of advanced academic services. The model is designed to strengthen direct services for advanced learners and to enhance the quality of instruction offered to all students. The Advanced Academic Resource Teachers collaborate with classroom teachers to design differentiated lessons that challenge students to learn at a faster rate, think on a higher level, and/or study sophisticated and complex content through extensions of the FCPS Program of Studies for students identified for differentiated lessons in areas of academic strength (level II).   Students identified for school-based (level III) services receive direct services from the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher either in a pull-out program or through small-group interaction within the general education classroom.

 

Full-Time APP (Level IV) Center Program

 

In what grades are students eligible to attend a full-time AAP (level IV) center?

Full-time AAP (level IV) center placements are for grades 3-8.

 

May a child be referred for full-time AAP placement more than one time?

Yes. Children in grades 3-8 may be referred once each school year. Parents, who would like their child considered for full-time AAP placement, must complete a referral form each year and submit it to the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher at the local elementary school or the Director of Student Services at the middle school by the published deadline.

 

What is the full-time AAP placement (level IV) program?

The level IV program provides full-time academic placement for highly gifted students. Teachers follow a curriculum framework to differentiate the depth, breadth, and pace of instruction based on the FCPS Program of Studies.  Students work with academic peers in all core subject areas. 

 

Where are Full-time Advanced Academic (Level IV) centers located?

Level IV center locations

 

How is transportation provided to a full-time AAP (level IV) center?

FCPS provides transportation for students who have accepted placement to a level IV center.  Level IV centers mail bus routes to parent/guardians.

 

What are Local Level IV Services?

Local Level IV Services provide an important option for advanced learners who need the challenge of a full-time AAP center curriculum and do not want to leave their local school. They also provide another avenue of access for advanced academic services to students who may need to practice and strengthen their basic skills but have the capacity to think, reason, and problem solve at advanced levels.

 

How does Local Level IV differ from the Full-time AAP Center?

The teachers in both settings are trained in gifted education and teach the same advanced academic curriculum to students who are ready for a highly challenging instructional program in the four core subject areas.  The main difference is in the make-up of the class.  All of the students in a full-time AAP center-based class have been identified as center-eligible by a central selection committee and will be coming from several neighborhood schools to comprise the center class.  In a Local Level IV classroom, the students are a mix of students who are center-eligible and high achieving students who are capable of working at advanced levels, all enrolled in their local school.   

Many schools that offer Local Level IV services add students to the Level IV class in areas of academic strength through flexible grouping.  This is an important avenue of access for students who have traditionally been underrepresented in advanced academic programs. 

 

Will Local Level IV Services replace the existing full-time AAP center programs?

No, Local Level IV Services are not an attempt to close the existing full-time AAP centers; they are designed to provide access to the advanced academic level IV curriculum to more students.  Families of eligible students have a choice about which option best meets their student's academic and social-emotional needs while access to curriculum and teachers trained in working with advanced learners is expanded to reach more students who are ready in areas of academic strength.

 

How is it determined which schools will provide Local Level IV Services?

Elementary schools that are interested in providing this level of service with strong community support submit a proposal to their Cluster Assistant Superintendent.  The proposal is reviewed, discussed, and then forwarded to the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and the Advanced Academic Programs office.  The proposal includes a rationale for providing Local Level IV Services, an implementation timeline, professional development plans for teachers, and staff and community input. 

 

Which elementary schools offer Local Level IV Services?

Local Level IV service locations

 

If my local school offers Local Level IV Services, what are my choices and how do I indicate my decision?

Parent/guardians of students at schools that offer Local Level IV Services have two choices if they wish their level IV- eligible child to participate in the full-time AAP (level IV) curriculum.  The eligibility letter mailed to parent/guardians includes a Permission Form.  Parent/guardians may elect to keep the child at the local school and receive Level IV Services OR request that the child be placed in the full-time AAP (level IV) center based on your FCPS street address.

 

If my local school does NOT offer Local Level IV Services, what are my choices and how do I indicate my decision?

Parent/guardians of students found eligible for full-time AAP (level IV) center placement are assigned to a full-time AAP (level IV) center based on their address.  The eligibility letter mailed to parent/guardians includes a Permission Form.  If your local school does not offer Local Level IV services and you choose not to send your child to the available full-time AAP (level IV) center, your child may participate in the school-based (level III) program at your local school.

 

What do I do with the Permission Form?

The Permission Form contains all necessary instructions.  The form is completed and returned to the Advanced Academic Programs office by the due date.

 

What are the student-teacher ratios for students who receive Local Level IV Services and full-time AAP (level IV) center classes?

The staffing formula for Local Level IV Services and full-time AAP (level IV) centers is the same as for general education classes.

 

Are there space limitations?

No, all students found eligible for the Level IV services are guaranteed placement.

 

How are teachers chosen to teach Local Level IV Services?

Teachers are selected by the school principal.  All FCPS teachers must hold a valid Virginia Teaching License. Teachers are required to receive an endorsement in Gifted and Talented Education on their state license or an FCPS endorsement in working with advanced learners within five years of accepting an AAP assignment.

 

How much homework can students expect to receive?

Schools with full-time AAP (level IV) centers follow the same regulation guidelines as the general education program. FCPS regulation number 3205 states, "On average, homework across disciplines should not exceed 0.5 hours for primary level, 1 hour at the upper elementary level, 1.5 hours at the middle school level, and 2 hours at the high school level."  For more information on homework policies, refer to Regulation 3205, available online.

 

Are there orientations/tours for students who are eligible for full-time AAP (level IV) center placement?

Yes, information regarding orientations and tours is included in the eligibility letters mailed to parents/guardians.  Orientations occur in May.  The specific dates are determined by each level IV center school.

 

What happens if my child is found eligible for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program but chooses not to attend the designated center or receive Local Level IV Services?

Students found eligible for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program may defer eligibility by noting so on the parent/guardian Permission Form. Students may activate their eligibility status at a later date by submitting the Reactivation Form to the Advanced Academic Programs Office and including a copy of the eligibility letter.  The Reactivation Form is available on the forms page.  Students may also be considered for school-based services at the local school.

 

Can a sibling of a student in the full-time AAP (level IV) center be transferred to the same school?

A parent or guardian may request a student transfer for his or her school-aged child (K-12) for the next school year during transfer season.  Student transfers are made on a space available basis and must meet one of the requirements in regulation 2230 acrobat:

(1) family relocation;
(2) child care hardship (elementary only);
(3) medical, emotional, social adjustment;
(4) FCPS parent employee working 20 or more hours per week; or
(5) high school curricular program. 
Parents or guardians are advised to review the student transfer regulation and frequently asked questions before making a request.  Student transfer information

 

What is the difference between full-time AAP (level IV) centers, foreign language immersion schools, and magnet schools?

Students found eligible for placement in a full-time Advanced Academic Program (Level IV) through a central selection process receive a highly challenging instructional program in the four core subject areas.  The Level IV program is designed to meet the needs of advanced learners with a strong emphasis on higher level thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. Students have ongoing opportunities for reflection and self-assessment that develop an understanding of the characteristics, demands, and responsibilities of advanced intellectual development.

Foreign Language partial immersion is a means of acquiring a foreign language through content matter instruction. Students learn mathematics, science, and health through the medium of a foreign language (French, German, Japanese or Spanish). Half the school day is spent learning in the foreign language. Students receive instruction in English for language arts and social studies during the other half of the day. Math, science, and health were chosen for the beginning years of development of the foreign language because they use manipulatives and concrete, hand-on activities, both of which help with the natural second language acquisition process. The foreign language immersion teacher teams with the grade-level English teachers to integrate the total FCPS curriculum.

Hunters Woods and Bailey's Elementary schools are Arts and Sciences magnet schools. These schools receive additional resources aimed at enhancing and enriching the Program of Studies. Bailey's and Hunters Woods serve their immediate attendance areas as well as accepting students from outside their boundaries through a computerized random lottery. Magnet students use state-of-the-art technology to extend their core studies and study subject areas through conceptual units by integrating the visual and performing arts to increase academic achievement. The magnet schools integrate the arts, science, and technology with instruction to make learning a creative, enriched experience. Students conduct research, produce live dramatic performances, compose original musical scores, design science experiments, and build museum exhibits.

 

If my child attends a magnet school or a foreign language partial immersion school that also houses a Level IV center, may my child stay at this school if they are found eligible for Level IV advanced academic services?

Students are assigned to Level IV centers based on their home address.  If the magnet school or foreign language partial immersion school is not your assigned Level IV center, then your child must attend the assigned center if you would like them to be enrolled in Level IV services. 

 

Middle School

AAP Services (Level II - IV)

What services are available for students in middle school?

Honors classes offer students who demonstrate previous high achievement in specific areas of strength the opportunity to experience the Extended Program of Studies at greater levels of depth and complexity. Honors classes offer a rigorous and challenging curriculum in the four core subject areas. They also offer students an opportunity to develop relationships with peers who will then attend the same high school.  Honors classes are available in all middle schools. In addition, eleven middle schools offer the Advanced Academic Level IV center program.

What subject areas offer middle school Honors classes?

Honors classes are available in the four core academic areas of English, mathematics, social studies, and science. Honors classes use a Fairfax County Public Schools-developed middle school curriculum that extends the FCPS Program of Studies in depth and complexity. The curriculum is based on the Parallel Curriculum Model, a nationally endorsed model for high-ability learners.

How and when are students enrolled in Honors classes?

The course selection process begins in February-March when middle schools begins the process of visiting elementary schools and sending home course selection forms. Parents will then have the opportunity to choose which Honors classes in which they would like to enroll their child and return the form to the school.

How do I refer my child for Honors classes in middle school?

Honors classes are open enrollment. If parents/guardians feel that their child would benefit from Honors classes (or from additional Honors classes), they may contact the middle school principal and request enrollment in Honor classes.

How much homework is involved in middle school Honors?

The amount of homework will vary depending on the instructional decisions made by the individual teacher and student learning styles.  For more information on homework policies, refer to Regulation 3205, available online.

My child has been in an elementary full-time AAP (level IV) center.  What options are available at the local middle school?

Rising seventh grade level IV center-eligible students may attend the assigned full-time level IV center. They also automatically qualify for Honors English, Honors Social Studies, and Honors Science classes at their local middle schools.  Parents/guardians help students make the decision whether or not to leave the level IV center at the end of the students' sixth grade year.

How is the middle school AAP level IV center program different from the middle school Honors?

The level IV center program for students in grades 7 and 8 offers identified students a full-time, highly challenging instructional program in all core subjects: English, mathematics, social studies, and science. Honors classes are designed to provide opportunities for all students to develop academic strengths through a more rigorous and challenging program in identified subject areas.

Full-Time APP (Level IV) Center Program

 

In what grades are students eligible to attend a full-time AAP (level IV) center?

Full-time AAP (level IV) center placements are for grades 3-8.

 

May a child be referred for full-time AAP placement more than one time?

Yes. Children in grades 3-8 may be referred once each school year. Parents, who would like their child considered for full-time AAP placement, must complete a referral form each year and submit it to the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher at the local elementary school or the Director of Student Services at the middle school by the published deadline.

 

What is the full-time AAP placement (level IV) program?

The level IV program provides full-time academic placement for highly gifted students. Teachers follow a curriculum framework to differentiate the depth, breadth, and pace of instruction based on the FCPS Program of Studies.  Students work with academic peers in all core subject areas. 

 

Where are Full-time Advanced Academic (Level IV) centers located?

Level IV centers locations

 

How is transportation provided to a full-time AAP (level IV) center?

FCPS provides transportation for students who have accepted placement to a level IV center.  Level IV centers mail bus routes to parent/guardians.

 

What are Local Level IV Services?

Local Level IV Services provide an important option for advanced learners who need the challenge of a full-time AAP center curriculum and do not want to leave their local school. They also provide another avenue of access for advanced academic services to students who may need to practice and strengthen their basic skills but have the capacity to think, reason, and problem solve at advanced levels.

 

How does Local Level IV differ from the Full-time AAP Center?

The teachers in both settings are trained in gifted education and teach the same advanced academic curriculum to students who are ready for a highly challenging instructional program in the four core subject areas.  The main difference is in the make-up of the class.  All of the students in a full-time AAP center-based class have been identified as center-eligible by a central selection committee and will be coming from several neighborhood schools to comprise the center class.  In a Local Level IV classroom, the students are a mix of students who are center-eligible and high achieving students who are capable of working at advanced levels, all enrolled in their local school.   

Many schools that offer Local Level IV services add students to the Level IV class in areas of academic strength through flexible grouping.  This is an important avenue of access for students who have traditionally been underrepresented in advanced academic programs. 

 

Will Local Level IV Services replace the existing full-time AAP center programs?

No, Local Level IV Services are not an attempt to close the existing full-time AAP centers; they are designed to provide access to the advanced academic level IV curriculum to more students.  Families of eligible students have a choice about which option best meets their student's academic and social-emotional needs while access to curriculum and teachers trained in working with advanced learners is expanded to reach more students who are ready in areas of academic strength.

 

How is it determined which schools will provide Local Level IV Services?

Elementary schools that are interested in providing this level of service with strong community support submit a proposal to their Cluster Assistant Superintendent.  The proposal is reviewed, discussed, and then forwarded to the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and the Advanced Academic Programs office.  The proposal includes a rationale for providing Local Level IV Services, an implementation timeline, professional development plans for teachers, and staff and community input. 

 

If my local school offers Local Level IV Services, what are my choices and how do I indicate my decision?

Parent/guardians of students at schools that offer Local Level IV Services have two choices if they wish their level IV- eligible child to participate in the full-time AAP (level IV) curriculum.  The eligibility letter mailed to parent/guardians includes a Permission Form.  Parent/guardians may elect to keep the child at the local school and receive Level IV Services OR request that the child be placed in the full-time AAP (level IV) center based on your FCPS street address.

 

If my local school does NOT offer Local Level IV Services, what are my choices and how do I indicate my decision?

Parent/guardians of students found eligible for full-time AAP (level IV) center placement are assigned to a full-time AAP (level IV) center based on their address.  The eligibility letter mailed to parent/guardians includes a Permission Form.  If your local school does not offer Local Level IV services and you choose not to send your child to the available full-time AAP (level IV) center, your child may participate in the school-based (level III) program at your local school.

 

What do I do with the Permission Form?

The Permission Form contains all necessary instructions.  The form is completed and returned to the Advanced Academic Programs office by the due date.

 

What are the student-teacher ratios for students who receive Local Level IV Services and full-time AAP (level IV) center classes?

The staffing formula for Local Level IV Services and full-time AAP (level IV) centers is the same as for general education classes.

 

Are there space limitations?

No, all students found eligible for the Level IV services are guaranteed placement.

 

How are teachers chosen to teach Local Level IV Services?

Teachers are selected by the school principal.  All FCPS teachers must hold a valid Virginia Teaching License. Teachers are required to receive an endorsement in Gifted and Talented Education on their state license or an FCPS endorsement in working with advanced learners within five years of accepting an AAP assignment.

 

How much homework can students expect to receive?

Schools with full-time AAP (level IV) centers follow the same regulation guidelines as the general education program. FCPS regulation number 3205 states, "On average, homework across disciplines should not exceed 0.5 hours for primary level, 1 hour at the upper elementary level, 1.5 hours at the middle school level, and 2 hours at the high school level."  For more information on homework policies, refer to Regulation 3205, available online.

 

Are there orientations/tours for students who are eligible for full-time AAP (level IV) center placement?

Yes, information regarding orientations and tours is included in the eligibility letters mailed to parents/guardians.  Orientations occur in May.  The specific dates are determined by each level IV center school.

 

What happens if my child is found eligible for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program but chooses not to attend the designated center or receive Local Level IV Services?

Students found eligible for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program may defer eligibility by noting so on the parent/guardian Permission Form. Students may activate their eligibility status at a later date by submitting the Reactivation Form to the Advanced Academic Programs Office and including a copy of the eligibility letter.  The Reactivation Form is available on the forms page.  Students may also be considered for school-based services at the local school.

 

Can a sibling of a student in the full-time AAP (level IV) center be transferred to the same school?

A parent or guardian may request a student transfer for his or her school-aged child (K-12) for the next school year during transfer season.  Student transfers are made on a space available basis and must meet one of the requirements in regulation 2230 acrobat:

(1) family relocation;
(2) child care hardship (elementary only);
(3) medical, emotional, social adjustment;
(4) FCPS parent employee working 20 or more hours per week; or
(5) high school curricular program. 
Parents or guardians are advised to review the student transfer regulation and frequently asked questions before making a request.  Student transfer information

 

What is the difference between full-time AAP (level IV) centers and foreign language immersion schools?

Students found eligible for placement in a full-time Advanced Academic Program (Level IV) through a central selection process receive a highly challenging instructional program in the four core subject areas.  The Level IV program is designed to meet the needs of advanced learners with a strong emphasis on higher level thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. Students have ongoing opportunities for reflection and self-assessment that develop an understanding of the characteristics, demands, and responsibilities of advanced intellectual development.

Foreign Language partial immersion is a means of acquiring a foreign language through content matter instruction. Students learn mathematics, science, and health through the medium of a foreign language (French, German, Japanese or Spanish). Half the school day is spent learning in the foreign language. Students receive instruction in English for language arts and social studies during the other half of the day. Math, science, and health were chosen for the beginning years of development of the foreign language because they use manipulatives and concrete, hand-on activities, both of which help with the natural second language acquisition process. The foreign language immersion teacher teams with the grade-level English teachers to integrate the total FCPS curriculum.

 

If my child attends a magnet school or a foreign language partial immersion school that also houses a Level IV center, may my child stay at this school if they are found eligible for Level IV advanced academic services?

Students are assigned to Level IV centers based on their home address.  If the magnet school or foreign language partial immersion school is not your assigned Level IV center, then your child must attend the assigned center if you would like them to be enrolled in Level IV services. 

 

High School, AP, and IB

 

Are students who are eligible for the full-time AAP (level IV) center program automatically accepted to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST)?

No, all students wishing to attend TJHSST must follow the application for admissions procedure at: www.tjhsst.edu.

Honors/AP/IB

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) offers both rigorous standard level and advanced academic courses to ensure all students are college and workforce ready. The success of our high school students is evidenced by how well prepared our students for life after graduation.   


What are the advanced course options at the secondary level

Advanced course options at the secondary level include honors, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and dual enrollment courses.  In FCPS, standard and advanced academic course options are offered for each of the four core subjects: English, mathematics, socials studies, and science.

 

What is the difference between standard and honors courses

The goal of honors courses is to provide a consistent county-developed middle and high school curriculum that extends the FCPS Program of Studies (POS) in depth and complexity and meets the needs of a diverse group of learners.  In standard courses, curriculum and instruction is based on a rigorous POS that goes beyond the state requirements of the Standards of Learning.  In honors courses, curriculum and instruction is based on extensions to the POS that are developed through the Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM).  Depending on the course, honors can be a stepping stone for AP/IB; however, standard courses also prepare students for the rigor of AP/IB courses. 

 

What are the honors course options in FCPS

In middle school, honors courses are available in the four core academic areas of English, mathematics, social studies, and science.  In high school, honors courses are available for: World History and Geography I, World History and Geography II, U.S. History, Government, English 9, English 10, English 11, English 12, Biology, Chemistry, Geosystems, Physics, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus with Trigonometry. 

 

Do standard courses prepare students for AP and IB coursework? 

Yes, an examination of students taking a standard level course in the year prior to taking an AP or IB course yielded the following results (averaging over three years, 2008-2010):  Ninety percent of students who took standard English 10 and then IB English in grade 11 passed the exam with a score of 4 or better.  Fifty-one percent of students who took standard English 10 and then AP English Language and Composition passed the exam with a score of 3 or better.  Sixty-four percent of students who took standard World History and Geography 1 in grade 9 and then AP World History in grade 10 passed the exam with a score of 3 or better.

 

Are there differences between honors course offerings at AP and IB schools

Honors course offerings at AP and IB schools are different in social studies to enable students to meet Virginia graduation requirements.  IB students must take government prior to their senior year when it is normally taken because of the required junior/senior IB social studies courses.  Therefore, ninth-grade IB students take standard or honors World History and Geography II instead of World History and Geography I.  Tenth-grade IB students take standard, honors or AP Government

 

What is the difference between AP and IB

Advanced Placement courses and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program offer distinct rigorous course offerings that are in line with their unique educational missions.  Please reference attached chart for detailed descriptions of the AP and IB programs.

 

Why does participation in AP and IB courses provide a greater advantage to students (as compared to taking honors courses)

AP and IB courses are recognized by colleges and universities for their rigor and challenge, as well as for their ability to prepare students to meet the demands of college study.  College Board data indicates that students who take AP exams (regardless of exam score) have higher first-year college GPAs, higher first-year college retention rates, and higher institutional selectivity compared to students who do not take AP courses.  The College Board report on The Relationship between AP Exam Performance and College Outcomes (2009) provides compelling data to provide evidence for the impact of taking AP Exams. 

 

A Description of the International Baccalaureate

Diploma Program and Advanced Placement Program

 

 

IB

AP

What is it?

The IB program is a rigorous pre-university program leading to assessment in six subject areas.  IB is noted for its challenging curriculum and international perspective.  Beyond completing college-level courses and examinations, IB students are also required to engage in community service, individual research, and an inquiry into the nature of knowledge.

The AP program is a challenging academic program designed to provide motivated high school students with college-level academic courses.  The AP program is a cooperative educational endeavor between secondary schools and colleges and universities and is considered a standard for academic excellence in the U.S.    

Mission

“The International Baccalaureate Organization aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.  To this end the IBO works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment.  These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

“The College Board’s mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity.  The AP program supports the principle that each individual school must develop its’ own curriculum based on a set of expectations that colleges and secondary school faculty nationwide have established for college-level courses.”  “For over 100 years, the College Board has partnered with leading educators, schools, and colleges to create innovative programs that help students, families, and educators to evaluate each student's academic strengths; challenge students to explore their interests and reach their potential; inspire students to do their best work; and pursue educational opportunities beyond high school.”

Courses

IB course curriculum is developed by an international committee of university professors and master secondary teachers.  IB standard level (SL) courses provide breadth while IB higher level (HL) courses provide specialization.  All HL courses are two years.  Some SL courses are two years and some are one year; these will also vary by school.  IB requires 150 teaching hours for SL and 240 teaching hours for HL courses.  FCPS offers 30 different IB courses at the HL and/or SL levels.  

Individual teachers develop their own curriculum based on established course requirements and AP standards that must be approved by the College Board as part of the AP Course Audit process. University professors review the course syllabi for rigor and content to match college standards.  All AP courses are one-year.  FCPS offers a total of 33 different AP courses in all of their AP schools. 

Why take IB or AP?

IB provides a comprehensive educational program that prepares students for selective universities and colleges.  IB is a rigorous program dedicated to educational excellence with an international perspective.

AP provides a challenging educational program that prepares students for selective universities and colleges.  AP is a rigorous program dedicated to educational excellence with a long-standing history in the United States.

Teacher Training

All IB teachers complete a comprehensive training that
includes curriculum, teaching strategies, and assessment. Teachers continue to attend workshops every 5—7 years.

All AP teachers complete comprehensive training that includes developing curriculum, teaching strategies, and preparing the students for examinations.  Teachers continue to attend workshops every 5—7 years. 

Diplomas and Certificates

Students pursuing the IB Diploma take 6 IB courses in different areas — English, *Foreign Language, Social Sciences, Science, Math, and an Elective. Diploma candidates must take a minimum of 3 higher level (HL) courses (maximum of 4) with all remaining classes taken at the standard level (SL). Diploma students also take the Theory of Knowledge course, write a 4000-word extended essay, and complete 150 hours of creativity, action, and service outside of class. A student must achieve a minimum score of 24 out of 45 points to be awarded the IB Diploma.
Students may also earn Certificates in individual IB courses.
*In FCPS, Foreign Language is referred to as World Languages.

Students may enroll in as many individual AP courses as they wish based on academic strengths and interests. The College Board recognizes students with exceptional performance in the Advanced Placement program as follows:
AP Scholar - 3 or higher on 3 exams;
AP Scholar with Honor – Average 3.25 with a 3 on at least 4 exams;
AP Scholar with Distinction – Average 3.5 with a 3 on at least 5 exams; and
National AP Scholar – Average of 4 on all exams with a 4 on at least 8.
Community service is a requirement of AP Government.

Examinations

Students take a series of internal assessments (assessed by the local teacher and moderated by an examiner) and external assessments (moderated by international standards). IB tests are scored on a scale of 1—7. Teachers predict student grades, and examinations are rescored if there is more than a one-point discrepancy. Several FCPS teachers are IB examiners.

Students sit for an examination at the end of the AP course.
AP tests are scored on a scale of 1—5. All examinations are graded by a group of AP readers. Many FCPS teachers are AP readers.

Types of Assessments

Assessments include lab work for science; papers for English and the social sciences; oral presentations or exams in English and foreign (world) language; portfolios in math and computer science; and various projects such as journals and art books in the electives.

Examinations include multiple choice questions and essays. Language exams include listening and speaking components. Art requires a portfolio and music includes sight-reading.

College Credit

Many colleges offer credit for HL exams with scores of 5, 6, or 7. Some colleges offer additional credit to students who complete the IB diploma. Some colleges offer credit for SL exams with scores of 5, 6, or 7. Most colleges list the credit policy on their websites. University recognition policies are also available on the IB website — www.ibo.org — under "University Recognition."

Many colleges offer college credit for AP examinations with scores of 3, 4 or 5. Universities and colleges list the credit policy on their websites. University recognition policies are also available on the College Board website.

 

 

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Dr. Carol V. Horn
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Last Updated

July 18, 2014