Advanced Academic Programs (AAP)

Fairfax County Public Schools offers a continuum of advanced academic services for students K-12 that builds upon students' individual strengths and skills and maximizes academic potential for all learners.

FCPS policies and procedures are grounded in excellence, equity, and inclusion. The Advanced Academic Program (AAP) believes in developing the strengths and talents of all students and offers a continuum of advanced academic services to meet a broad range of student needs.

Providing rigor to all students is a part of the:

Click on an area below to see more details.

FCPS AAP Philosophy

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) believes in developing the strengths and talents of all students. Every student needs to be challenged and engaged in exciting learning experiences.

FCPS policies and procedures are grounded in equity and inclusion. Our commitment to providing rigor to all students is part of the FCPS strategic plan. AAP offers a continuum of advanced academic services to meet a broad range of student needs. We take a holistic approach that uses a variety of assessments to determine the level of service to match the child’s current needs.

With the FCPS talent development model, all students in FCPS will receive:

  • Critical and creative thinking lessons.
  • Access to AAP curriculum and strategies.

Some students need a differentiated curriculum to address their cognitive and social-emotional needs. These students receive additional AAP services based on:

  • Academic needs beyond peers at their grade level.
  • Strengths in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.
  • A need for increased depth, complexity, and pace of instruction.

Students’ advanced academic needs may change over time. The AAP continuum of services develops and builds on students’ current strengths and talents.

Presentations: Learn about Advanced Academic Programs and Services

Elementary School AAP Services

FCPS offers a continuum of services for elementary students to meet their current academic needs. The continuum of services supports the two main goals of the Advanced Academic Programs Office:

  • Talent Development
  • Meeting the Needs of the Advanced Learner

Access to Rigor (level I): Grades K-6 – All students receive talent development lessons with critical and creative thinking strategies and AAP curriculum lessons.

Subject Specific Advanced Differentiation (level II): Grades K-6 – Identified students receive AAP curriculum lessons in the general education setting in areas of academic strength.

Part-Time Services (level III): Grades 3-6 – Identified students receive AAP curriculum lessons in more than one academic content area. The Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART) leads these lessons. Programming has increased depth and complexity in several content areas.

Full-Time Services (level IV): Grades 3-8 –Identified students receive AAP curriculum lessons full-time. Programming has increased depth, complexity, and pace in all academic content areas.

Middle School AAP Services

Honors Classes: Any student who seeks academic rigor may enroll in honors classes. Students should consider taking honors classes in areas of strengths or interest.

Full-Time (Level IV): Eligible students may either attend their assigned AAP center school or enroll in Honors classes at their base school.

High School AAP Services

Any student may enroll in advanced courses in high school as long as they have met the course pre-requisites.

Honors Classes: Any student who seeks academic rigor may enroll in honors courses. Students should consider taking honors courses in areas of strengths or interest.

Advanced Placement (AP): AP coursework is similar to first year college courses. They help prepare students for college level coursework.

International Baccalaureate (IB): The IB programs provide rigorous coursework. Students engage in deep thinking, reading, and writing with an international perspective.

Dual Enrollment: FCPS teachers teach Dual Enrollment courses. Students may earn college credit through agreements with a college or university.

Young Scholars, Twice Exceptional (2e), English Learners (ELs) Advocacy

FCPS Advanced Academic Programs is committed to identifying and developing strengths and talents in all students including:

Understanding the AAP Screening Process

Learn about the referral, screening, and selection process for full-time (Level IV) and school-based (Levels II/III) Advanced Academic Program.

Current FCPS Students

FCPS aims to provide each student with the level of service they need to be challenged and make continuous academic growth.

Students currently attending FCPS may apply by following these published deadlines and instructions.

Pathways to School-Based (Level II/Level III) Services (Grades K-6)

All students are evaluated for school-based services using multiple measures during the spring screening window in May.

For consideration outside of the May screening window:

  • Contact your school's AART for questions regarding student eligibility or placement in school-based services.
  • Submit the Level II-III Referral Form to the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART) at your local elementary school
Level II-III Referral Form (PDFs)

All decisions regarding these services are made at the local school.

Eligibility decisions may be appealed once per school year by contacting the AART in writing and providing new information about the student.

Pathways to Full-Time Level IV Services (Grades 2-7)

There are three pathways for students to be considered by the central selection committee for AAP Full-Time Level IV services:

  • Universal screener referral (Grade 2 only) 
  • Staff referral 
  • Family referral

Universal Screener Referral (Grade 2 only)

One pathway is an annually determined universal screener referral for second grade students.

Universal screener referral students are not guaranteed eligibility, but they are automatically referred for screening.

Staff and Family Referrals (Grades 2-7)

Staff, Parents, or guardians may refer students for screening prior to the referral deadline.

  • Students must be in grades 2-7.
  • Turn in the Advanced Academic Programs Level IV Referral Form to the school.
Level IV Referral Form (PDFs)

Parents are reminded to submit a referral form in the referral window if they want to be sure that their student is screened for Full-Time (Level IV) services. Parents should not wait for the announcement of the universal screener referral.

Referrals are not accepted after the window closes as local schools will begin scheduling and coordinating the steps required to complete the student portfolios immediately after the window closes.

Learn more about pathways to screening for AAP Full-Time (Level IV) services.

Timeline for Submitting an AAP Level IV Referral (Aug 21-Dec 15, 2023)

  • Referrals for AAP level IV screening will be collected between August 21 through December 15, 2023
  • Referral forms may be dropped off at the local school or emailed to the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART) and principal at the local school.
Level IV Referral Form (PDFs)

Students new to FCPS as of January 1, 2023: The Fall Screening deadline for Level IV Referrals is October 15, 2023.

Level IV Testing and Identification Timeline

Parent or Guardian Materials for Level IV Referrals


A referral form is required for any student (grades 2-7) whose parent would like them screened for full-time services.

Level IV Referral Form (PDFs)


Parents may submit:

  • the parent/guardian questionnaire
  • up to two pages of student work samples
  • Achievement test results (SOL scores already included)
  • Private ability test results (from a private, clinically licensed psychologist or George Mason Cognitive Assessment Program)

These optional materials should be submitted to the Advanced Academic Resource Teacher at the local school when submitting the referral form.


Awards, certificates, and letters of recommendation will not be part of screening files.

Testing Updates for 2023-24

  • The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) will be offered to all students in grade 2 this school year (2023-24).
  • The Naglieri Nonverbal Abilities Test (NNAT) will be offered to all students in Grade 1.
  • Parents/Guardians may request a one-time retest of either the CogAT or NNAT.
    • FCPS policy permits one retake of one ability test per student.
    • Submit the request to the local school by contacting the AART or assistant principal.
    • The one-time retest for the NNAT or CogAT test is an option for families who feel their child did not perform well on the ability test for a variety of reasons.

Note: While private testing that follows guidelines may be submitted, testing is only one type of data considered. All ability tests are considered within the larger context of the overall screening portfolio. FCPS does not encourage families to seek additional testing beyond what FCPS provides to all students.

Learn more about ability testing dates on the Full-Time (level IV) Testing and Identification Timeline

AAP Full Time Center Transportation

The following transportation information is dependent on the adoption of the FY24 budget.
  • Transportation is available for students who live outside of the school’s transportation boundary but within the school's AAP boundary.
    • Use the boundary locator to determine the AAP Full Time Center placement for middle and elementary students.
  • A bus ride for students being transported from outside of the school boundary can be longer than an hour without traffic.
    • ​​​​​​​When deciding to enroll in an AAP Full Time Center school, consider the travel time for your child.
  • Centralized bus stops are finalized at the end of each school year and may be adjusted annually as enrollment continues to change.
    • The AAP stop for an elementary student may differ for a middle school student.
    • Final stop information is provided via ParentVue in August.  
  • It is the responsibility of a family member to transport the child to and from the bus stop location or make alternate arrangements that work best for their child and schedule

Matching Students to Services

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has shifted from a focus on labeling students as gifted to a focus on identifying student strengths. FCPS provides advanced academic services designed to develop and nurture students’ academic strengths over time.

Advanced Academic Programs identification and placement practices are guided by an understanding of current research about ability and intelligence showing that both:

  • Develops over time.
  • Can be nurtured.
  • Shows in different ways for individuals and across cultures.
  • Is complex and affected by both genetic and environmental influences.

New Elementary and Middle School Families

Military and Foreign Services Families

FCPS offers flexible deadlines to our students of military parents who are interested in our Advanced Academic Programs.

Military families, foreign service employees, and civilian members of the Armed Forces of the United States under federal orders who move into Fairfax County from another county or state should follow the steps outlined in AAP Identification and Placement for Military Families.

The Academic Planning for Military Families site provides information about:

  • elementary academics
  • middle and high academics
  • special education instruction and services
  • advanced academics
  • graduation requirements
  • credit for home instruction
  • and more

New FCPS Residents

FCPS aims to provide each student with the level of service they need to be challenged and make continuous academic growth.

Families who move into Fairfax County from another county or state may apply for immediate placement.

Private/Home School Families

FCPS aims to provide each student with the level of service they need to be challenged and make continuous academic growth.

Fairfax County residents who attend a private school or homeschool have two opportunities to apply each year.

Screening files for private and homeschool families must be submitted through the mail to the Advanced Academic Programs office at Willow Oaks Administrative Center (8270 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, Fairfax, VA 22031).

File packets must be postmarked by:

  • November 15, 2023 (Fall screening window)
  • January 24, 2024 (Spring screening window)

Please visit the Identification and Placement for Private/Home Schooled Families page for more information on the screening process.

Contact the Advanced Academic Program Office