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.يرجى زيارة موقعنا الألكتروني لقراءة هذه النشرة الإخبارية بلغات أخرى
Dear Fairfax Students, Staff and Families,
Happy Thanksgiving! It’s one of my favorite holidays - one that most everyone celebrates together, has a chance to focus on gratitude for our lives, and enjoys tasty food! I hope you have a chance to rest and connect with your family and friends over the long weekend. I enjoyed spending time with new and current school board colleagues at the Virginia School Board Association conference in Williamsburg, learning about AI in education, strategies to address chronic absenteeism, and more. And November means football playoffs and fall plays and musicals! I’ve loved attending games cheering our athletes and listening to pep bands and watching our amazing thespians. The talent amongst our students is off the charts and these productions rival many professional productions. I hope you have the chance to enjoy some of the winter concerts in December.
In the spirit of gratitude, I want to extend a deep and sincere thank you to Fairfax voters who supported the 2023 Bond Referendum! I appreciate the support of our schools. You can stay informed on construction and capital improvements by visiting our Capital Improvement Project webpage. Passing the bond helps us maintain our schools and facilities so thank you! I am also grateful and humbled for the opportunity to return to the School Board for four more years. I am here to represent each and every one of you so please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of service.
The School Board has been focused on our student’s academic achievement and innovating to offer new class offerings for FCPS students. Last week, at our Work Session, we discussed the Goal Three report of our new strategic plan. Goal Three is focused on academic growth and excellence. This first year, the primary focus is on metrics demonstrating all students reading by third grade, successfully completing Algebra I by 8th grade, and advanced coursework in high school. The first two metrics are key indicators for long term success. Third grade is the point where students transition from learning to read to reading to learn, where reading ability starts to significantly impact learning across subjects. Students who read at or above grade level in third grade graduate and attend college at high rates and are four times less likely to drop out of high school. Similarly, students who successfully complete Algebra I by 8th grade are better able to access higher level mathematics in high school and are better able to access STEM careers.
In addition, at our Regular Meeting, we voted on new course offerings to introduce students to additional career paths, such as aircraft and remote piloting, healthcare, AI, and welding, adding Cybersecurity Fundamentals as a standard offering at all high schools, and increasing GPA weighting for some more rigorous courses.
I’ve also heard many concerns regarding staff retention, especially given the national teacher shortage that also impacts FCPS. We have made some recent changes that demonstrate appreciation for our employees. First, the Board voted to revise the FY 2024 budget to fund a 2% compensation increase for all employees effective January 2, 2024. This is on top of the 3% increase that was already part of the FY 2024 budget. This increase comes later because the state adopted a budget that amends the FY 2024 budget and provides FCPS with some additional revenue that can be used towards this increase.
While I am grateful for the opportunity to provide a much-deserved increase for our employees, I urge our state legislators to address the deficiencies in school funding recently highlighted by a report from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.
Second, in response to employee feedback, FCPS has announced the addition of a sick leave donation to current leave policy. This leave-sharing program will allow eligible FCPS employees to donate up to a maximum of 160 hours of their accrued sick leave to other FCPS employees for medical necessities.
Read below about FCPS’ annual pass rates, efforts to address chronic absenteeism and build student health habits, and special education resources, among other items. I hope you find this information informative and helpful.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me to share your questions and feedback.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Below you will find:
School Board Updates
School Board Approves New Name for W.T. Woodson High School
The School Board unanimously voted to rename W.T. Woodson High School at the November 9 Regular Meeting. Starting in school year 2024-25, the school will be known as Carter G. Woodson High School. The vote comes after two months of public engagement. Read more about the name change.
School Board Seeking FPAC Applicants
The Fairfax County School Board invites applications from community members interested in serving on the Facilities Planning Advisory Council (FPAC) for an At-Large member and a Sully District member. FPAC advises and informs FCPS staff and the School Board in the development of comprehensive, long-term plans for facilities. The Facilities Planning Advisory Council consists of 13 members, one from each Fairfax County magisterial district, three At-Large representatives, and one representative from the City of Fairfax.
FCPS encourages individuals with experience in construction, engineering, architecture, land use planning, development, demographics, government operations, and financing to apply. The deadline to submit an application is November 28. Read more and apply.
Strategic Plan Updates
The School Board held a Work Session on November 14 to discuss the baseline report for Goal 3 - Academic Growth and Excellence. The baseline report provides a tremendous amount of data on the selected measures of the current achievement of our students, explores underlying reasons for the data and explores strategies to address growth for our students. It is an important foundation for achieving the goals described in our Strategic Plan. You can see the materials here.
FCPS Pass Rates and Accreditation Outcomes
During the October 26 Academic Matters segment, Dr. Reid discussed FCPS’ annual pass rates and accreditation outcomes, stating that we’re seeing a return to baseline levels in pass rates at FCPS. Post-pandemic assessment growth has leveled off. Reading, mathematics, and science pass rates for FCPS are up by an average of almost 9% since the 2021-22 school year. FCPS’ annual pass rates on state assessments continue to be higher than the state average by an average of 5%.
The Virginia Board of Education’s accreditation ratings are based on six-to-nine school quality indicators. These include state assessment results and achievement gaps; graduation and dropout rates; and participation in college/career readiness programs.
For the 2023 accreditation ratings, 99.5% of Fairfax County public schools are accredited (compared to the state average of 89%). The remaining 0.5% are accredited with conditions.
Watch Dr. Reid's presentation on YouTube or view the slides.
During the Academic Matters segment of the November 9 School Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid discussed student attendance and engagement. Attendance and absenteeism rates are one measure of Goal 2 of our Strategic Plan.
Chronic absenteeism — which is defined as a student missing 10% or more of school for any reason — is a concern across Virginia school districts. Although FCPS continues to outperform the state average in attendance rates, we are tracking chronic absenteeism closely and stressing the importance of attendance to students and parents while providing a multi-tiered system of intervention.
Attendance is critical for academic success. Data shows that:
- Missing just 10% of school — just two days a month — negatively affects a student’s academic performance.
- Only 17% of students who were chronically absent in both kindergarten and first grade were reading proficiently in third grade, compared to 64% of those with good attendance.
- Students who fail to read at grade level by the end of third grade are four times more likely than students who achieve proficiency to drop out of high school.
- By sixth grade, chronic absenteeism becomes a leading indicator that a student will drop out of high school.
Attendance is critical for academic success!
Changes to Secondary Course Offerings
At the November 9 Regular Meeting, the School Board approved secondary course changes recommended by the FCPS Course Review Committee. These changes include new courses intended to introduce students to explore possible career paths, such as aircraft and remote piloting, healthcare, AI, and welding. The changes also include increased GPA weight for certain courses that have rigorous curriculum. In addition, Cybersecurity Fundamentals will become a standard offering that will be available at all high schools. See the full list of changes and the rationale.
Upcoming School Board Meetings
Tuesday, November 28, 10:30 am - Forum: Artificial Intelligence; Work Session: Facilities Engagement Plan
Thursday, November 30, 6 pm - Public Hearing: McLean Elementary Schools Capacity Challenges
Monday, December 4, 7:30 pm - Regular Meeting: McLean Elementary Schools Boundary Adjustments
Tuesday, December 12, 10:30 am - Work Session: Strategic Plan Goal 1 Report; SR&R
Thursday, December 14, 7:30 pm - Regular Meeting: FY24 Midyear Budget Review; Strategic Plan Goal 1 Report Vote
Please note that times and topics are subject to change.
The work sessions and regular meetings are broadcast live on Channel 99 (Verizon channel 11) and the FCPS website. Both are recorded for future viewing and posted to the FCPS School Board YouTube channel.
For Spanish speakers, to watch recorded School Board meetings, or live during regular meetings, visit the FCPS en Espanol YouTube channel.
Visit the community participation webpage to sign up to speak at a regular meeting. Visit BoardDocs for more meeting logistics, agendas, and handouts.
Successfully Completing Algebra 1 by Eighth Grade
Helping students to complete Algebra 1 by eighth grade is part of our Strategic Plan (Goal 3: Academic Growth and Excellence). Algebra Access Network Improvement Community (AANIC) is working to increase the diverse representation of students who take advanced math classes and succeed in them. This video shares more about the AANIC cohorts at Kilmer and Key middle schools and lets students explain why Algebra matters to them.
Passing Algebra 1 earlier allows for students to take more advanced classes like Dual Enrollment courses, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. These advanced courses help students succeed in college. A recent study from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) found that completing Algebra 1 by grade eight led to 30% more ninth graders and 16% more 11th graders taking advanced courses.
Community Review of Elementary Language Arts Basal Instructional Resources
Fairfax County Public Schools will adopt new Elementary School Language Arts Basal Instructional Resources for the 2024-2025 school year. A review committee composed of community members, administrators, and teachers met in August to review the initial list of state-approved materials for grades K-3. The committee will reconvene in January to review a second list of state-approved materials for K-5.
Public review of the recommended materials is an important part of the resource selection process. The Elementary English Language Arts basal instructional resources may be accessed in person and online from November 15, 2023 until noon on December 15, 2023.
Materials may be viewed at the Pimmit Hills Center - Room 207 at 7510 Lisle Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22043. Materials will be available to review Mon-Thur, 9 am to 9 pm.
Digital Materials can be accessed via the Elementary Language Arts Basal Resource Review website during the public review period.
All community feedback will be shared with the review committee and with the School Board before the vote at a School Board Regular meeting.
Results of the 2022-23 Fairfax County Youth Survey
The Fairfax County Youth Survey provides insights into the behaviors and attitudes that affect the health and well-being of Fairfax County youth.
Most Fairfax County students reported they feel safe at their school. Overall, the percentage of students who reported risky behaviors continued to decrease in many areas including substance use, sexual activity, and aggressive and delinquent behavior.
Mental health indicators including feelings of sadness/hopelessness, suicidal ideations, and suicide attempts also improved noticeably compared to 2021. Students who reported the recommended amount of physical activity increased compared to the prior year as well.
Read more about the report’s findings, and find the full report on the county’s website.
Protective Factors Support Healthy Habits and Positive Choices
Results from the Fairfax County Youth Survey highlight the importance of students having three or more “protective factors.” Protective factors are individual, family-based, school-based, and community-based assets (such as participating in extracurricular activities, having parents available for help, or having teachers recognize good work) that support healthy habits and positive choices. Learn more about promoting positive outcomes.
Survey data shows that students with at least three protective factors have a lower likelihood of reporting mental health challenges and engaging in a variety of risky behaviors, including substance and opioid abuse. These findings led to the development of the Three to Succeed program, which is being implemented divisionwide to educate FCPS students, families, and staff on the importance of protective factors and increasing the number of high school students with three or more of them.
Special Education Resources for Families
Fairfax County Public Schools has the following resources available to assist families of students with special needs.
- The Office of Special Education Procedural Support helps staff, families, and students with the implementation of and compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended.
- Kathy Murphy, the assistant ombuds for special education, provides information and support to caregivers and students regarding special education and Section 504 services. Contact the Ombuds Office by submitting a question, calling 571-423-4014, or emailing [email protected].
Additionally, the Virginia Department of Education has updated the Virginia Family's Guide to Special Education. This state guide was developed to help those involved in special education including families, teachers, school administrators, advocates, and students.
Eighteen Fairfax County Public Schools Recognized for Supporting Military-Connected Families
Eighteen Fairfax County public schools have been recognized by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Council on the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children as 2023 Purple Star Schools. The Purple Star Designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the needs of military-connected students and their families. Read more about Purple Star Schools.
Observance Graphics Created by Students in Design Challenge
In May, the FCPS Office of Communications called for entries for new graphics to help acknowledge the religious and cultural observances identified on the 2023-24 School Year Calendar. Eleven winning designs will be featured on FCPS and school social media platforms, and in newsletters leading up to the holidays. See the full list of winners.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Opening in December
The FAFSA is needed to determine a student's eligibility for financial aid. Families of current seniors should be thinking about completing financial aid applications in order for students to be eligible to receive financial help to cover the costs of post-secondary education. With the late opening of the FAFSA, there are some things families can do now (English only).
A funding opportunity is available for students who are unable to complete the FAFSA — the Virginia Alternative State Aid (VASA) program. Find out which aid option is right for your family on the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia website.
Good News - Student and Staff Successes
Youth Athletes, Coaches and Parents Honored
Youth sports athletes, coaches and parents were honored on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023 at the annual Stephen A. McLaughlin Champions of Character Awards at the Fairfax County Government Center.
The annual awards, founded in 2001, honor county youth, coaches and parents in each magisterial district for extraordinary service in pursuing victory with honor on and off the field of competition. Instituted by the Fairfax County Athletic Council, this program aims to support the tradition of amateur athletics in cultivating teamwork, leadership, good sportsmanship and community service. See the list of winners.
628 Students Named National Merit Commended Scholars
Six hundred twenty-eight FCPS students have been named National Merit Commended Scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).
In recognition of their outstanding ability and potential for academic success in college, NMSC will honor these students by sending Letters of Commendation to them through their high schools. See the full list of commended scholars.
FCPS Students Selected for Music Honors
Forty-six students representing 16 Fairfax County high schools have been selected for the 2023 All-Virginia Jazz Band and the 2023 VMEA Senior Honors Choir. Students throughout Virginia went through a rigorous audition process for positions within these ensembles. Student-musicians will rehearse with nationally recognized conductors. In addition, seven students representing two Fairfax County elementary schools have been selected for the 2023 All-Virginia Elementary Orff Ensemble. See the full list of students selected for these ensembles and a list of concerts that are open to the public.
Herndon HS Teacher Recognized in Congressional Record
Herndon HS teacher Gabe Segal was recognized by Representative Gerald Connolly for his efforts to raise funds to reduce school meal debt. The commemoration is included in the Congressional Record https://twitter.com/FCPSRegion1/status/1716833591848747300.
Reston Teen Helps Remove Arts Barriers
August Gabriel Rivers, a South Lakes HS senior, was named a finalist in WTOP’s Top Kids program for his work to raise money to support students who wish to participate in arts programs but were not financially able. Rivers worked with others to create “Reston Stars” which gives scholarships to students to participate in fine arts programs. He plans to use the $500 he received for the award to support additional scholarships. Read more.
Chantilly Academy Student Club Supports STEM Education
Future STEM Leaders Alliance (FSLA) is a student-led club with a mission to “spread STEM in our community and beyond, regardless of ethnicity or gender.” Members of the club have been planning and facilitating a 5-week workshop with students at Brookfield Elementary. Students describe the workshops as an interactive program that allows students to use LEGO Education kits to learn fundamental STEM concepts.
Annandale Students Win Engineering First Place at Innovation Contest
Annandale HS students Carolina Valenzuela Rodriguez, Ava Sweall, Fatmata Musa, and An Pham presented their work for the Audi of America DRIVE: Like a Girl engineering innovation contest. The Audi of America DRIVE: Like a Girl program is an annual STEM competition in which high school girls identify, design, and present a project focused on the automotive industry. The Annandale team was judged by a panel of engineers and employees from Audi and the Stem for Her organization.
November is …
Native American Heritage Month
Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native Americans. It is also a time to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges they have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.
Military Family Appreciation Month
Military Family Appreciation Month is celebrated all of November. If you are a military family, thank you for your service! The Office of Family and School Partnerships provides resources and support for military families transitioning to or exiting FCPS. Contact Meredith Ayala, family partnerships specialist and military liaison, for more information.
Newsletter for Military-Connected Families
Did you know that the Office of Family and School Partnerships sends a monthly newsletter for military-connected families? Subscribe today.
Here are just a few FCPS productions. Be sure to check out the Fine and Performing Arts Calendar on the FCPS website. Individual listings for many middle and high school theater events are featured. Users can subscribe to the calendar to be notified of upcoming performances, and each event can be added to a calendar or shared on social media.
Edison HS, The Diary of Anne Frank, November 29-December 2, https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/15633/
Holmes MS, Matilda, Jr., December 1-2, https://www.etix.com/ticket/v/15718/
West Potomac HS, The Nutcracker, November 29-December 2, https://www.fcps.edu/event/nutcracker-4
The views contained within this newsletter reflect the views of the individual school board member who is the publisher of this newsletter and may not reflect the views of the Fairfax County School Board.
© 2023 Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County, Virginia
E-mail: Rachna Sizemore Heizer, Chair and At Large Member
Prabha Rollins, Staff Aide
571-423-1078, [email protected]